I've become sucked into watching the World Cup games this year. I think my mind is starving for something to focus on that's not horrifying world news. But it's hard to ignore the many ways in which the event is, and always has been, incredibly gendered.
While many are criticizing the sexual harassment and sexism pervasive at this year's World Cup, sexism in the world of sports (or anywhere) is nothing new at all. But seeing how the World Cup is currently in its throes, there's no time like the present to take a look at some of the many shocking ways in which this year's mega-event has truly crossed the line, including for sports journalists that are women.
On Sunday, Julia Guimarães, a sports reporter for Brazil's TV Globo and sportv, had to scold a man who tried to kiss her during a live report in front of a stadium in Yekaterinburg before the Senegal-Japan match. She successfully ducked the idiot and proceeded to tell him off as her mic was cut. "Don't do this," she said. "I don't allow you to do this, never, OK? This is not polite. This is not right. Never do this. Never do this to a woman, OK? Respect."
Guimarães later tweeted that it's "hard to find words," and that similar incidents had also happened to her twice already in Russia, one of these at the Egypt-Uruguay game. "It's awful. I feel helpless, vulnerable. This time I gave an answer, but it's sad, people do not understand. I wanted to understand why you think you have a right to do that," she said, according to a translation.
Julieth Gonzalez Theran
Berlin-based Colombian journalist Julieth Gonzalez Theran was groped and kissed during a live-air broadcast at the World Cup. It happened fast. As she was giving a live report from Moscow, a man appeared out of nowhere, grabbed her breast and kissed her on the cheek. She continued with her report, fully ignoring the guy, but later expressed her outrage on Instagram.
Claudia Neumann is the first woman ever to narrate a men's World Cup game for German public broadcaster ZDF. Sadly, and unsurprisingly, Neumann has experienced a barrage of hatefully sexist online abuse and criticism from male fans.
At the start of this year's World Cup, she responded to the internet hate calmly. "No, I do not care about it," she said, adding that the internet hate represents only a "minority that receives a lot of attention."
Burger King's "controversial" World Cup ad campaign
Yo, check out this: Burger King Russia's ad was honestly and truly offering money and free burgers to Russian women impregnated by Russian World Cup players. Unsurprisingly, it was removed after people, you know, reacted.
"Each will receive 3 million rubles [$47,000 USD]," said the ad, "and a lifelong supply of Whoppers. For these girls, it will be possible to get the best football genes and will lay down the success of the Russian national team on several generations ahead."
Although it's unclear whether or not this next-level vile ad was a response to comments made by Russian politician Tamara Pletnyova, who urged Russian women not to have sex with foreign World Cup visitors, I'm calling multiple isms on this one either way. Burger King has since issued an apology, but, um, where to even start?
Getty Images joins the party too, because why not
If I haven't sufficiently rained on your World Cup parade just yet, Getty Images posted a gallery of photographs titled "World Cup 2018: The Sexiest Fans," comprised entirely of shots of (conventionally) attractive (and in most cases, scantily clad) women. They, of course, came under the gun after that for not feeding their straight women (or gay/bi men) viewers any eye candy whatsoever, and seemingly mocking the concept of women enjoying sports. Getty has since removed the gallery and issued a brief apology.
Brazilian UN Women issues a statement
The many misogynist incidents at this year's World Cup are just the latest evidence that rape culture is thriving around the world, and knows no cultural bounds.
In addition to these incidents, a bombardment of Twitter posts showcasing sexist and harassing behaviours by Brazilian soccer fans in Russia actually prompted the Brazilian office of UN Women to issue a statement, decrying the "deliberate intention of some Brazilian fans to sexually harass women during the World Cup."
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For me, one silver-lined takeaway in all of this is social media. In many cases it has been a real outlet for targeted women reporters, and a powerful tool for rallying support and rightful indignation, as well as spreading awareness. Because what more can we really do than spread the good word and fight misogynist bullshit wherever and whenever possible?
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