In an article on gender equality in sports, Rappler’s Ariel Ian Clarito wrote: “How women in sports are viewed by fans is largely influenced by how female athletes are depicted by the press. It is not uncommon to see sports stories where words and phrases like ‘statuesque,’ ‘pretty face,’ and ‘eye candy’ are mentioned, as if these descriptors had anything to do with one’s sporting abilities.”
Now that’s addressing the issue head-on.
He isn’t wrong. And, to be frank, I was a part of that. “Let’s write a feature because she’s pretty.” How often have I given that instruction influenced after years of getting such instruction?
“Why do you always use Sharapova’s pictures?” A former boss once told me and I confidently answered, “Because she’s pretty.” And I didn’t even think there was anything wrong with that response.
Of course now, I know better. Things that happened since 2016 have shown me the error of my ways.
Gender equality in sports needs a major change in one’s outlook—be it the athlete, the writer or the organizer. And it’s not too late to change.
“She’s good and she’s pretty.” How often have we heard that comment? What will it take when the conversation becomes only about skills and not about looks?
Perhaps it’s time that we changed things. Why does every opening program have a Best Muse contest? Why do we need round girls in boxing? I tell you, no one in the audience watches a round girl to know what the next round is.
Early in my career, during the running boom before the running boom in Cebu, I got curious why the prize money for the women’s event wasn’t the same for the men’s. The answer I got was interesting. It’s because the number of participants aren’t the same.
Since then though, and I think before the major events in the world started offering the same prize money, running events in Cebu began offering equal pay, something the women in global sports are advocating for.
You don’t have to have a voice to help that advocacy.
Just avoid having a double standard for women.
And not just in sports.
And it’s okay to realize that you were wrong.
The fight for gender equality in the country necessitates a change in one’s mindset. A real change. Not that change-is-coming change.