Sven Spoormakers twitter remark over Argentinian reporter Belén Mendiguren top raises questions of gender issues and sexism amidst social media onslaught.
Lesson 101: Objectifying a female’s body will never end well in the court of public opinion – especially when it’s a man taking issue with the female form.
A Belgian journalist and former pro cyclist has been widely condemned after posting a screengrab on Twitter of a young female reporter covering the Vuelta a San Juan and making what many have decried as sexist comments.
In his since deleted post, Sven Spoormakers made reference to the reporter’s low cut top — since identified as Belén Mendiguren — after taking a screenshot of her interviewing one of the riders for television, asking in Dutch: ‘Is it cool in Argentina?’
The post lead to numerous fans and pundits condemning him for allegedly sexually objectifying the female reporter.
Australian journalist Sophie Smith challenged Spoormakers on his remark, writing: ‘Seriously? Please tell me this is lost in translation and you did not just publicly objectify a young female reporter.’
‘Speaking from experience, let me say she does the exact same job as you but has to work and withstand twice as much still because of bulls–t like this.’
Spoormakers in turn responded: ‘Objectify, really? Come on. Don’t draw the feminist card on this one. She knows exactly what she’s wearing – or not wearing – and why.
‘If I would interview a female athlete with my balls out, you’d be joking about it too. Or calling it a disgrace.’
But that might be the rub- cause the journalist didn’t literally have her breasts hanging out – even if her shirt did pronounce her ‘ample’ form to anyone who cared to notice ( or pretend not to notice).
You know where this one is going kids….
Thank you Sophie, it’s gonna take time, but I really hope men will finally understand that this kind of comments are a complex gender issue. We live with this kind of gender violence since we r born. I invite everyone to ask your closest female friends about it as a first step. https://t.co/o0X0k7faGY
— Belén Mendiguren (@lelumendy) January 30, 2020
Do women bear any complicity in sexist attitudes towards them?
Spoormakers’ remark led to Smith retorting: ‘So it’s her fault because you can’t stop looking at her boobs? What’s she meant to do, wear a potato sack so you don’t get excited? If I take a picture of you at work, post it and comment on how small your d–k looks in a pair of shorts would you be alright with that?’
Which augers the time old argument – is a woman inviting sexual harassment or sexism if she chooses to dress in a particular way. Should she at least be aware of what her choice of dress sense may inspire certain reactions and worse certain actions in a hyper sexualized world- especially one where women openly take advantage of large dollar bills in exchanging of appearing scantily dressed (if at all) on billboards, magazine covers and or TV?
Adding his thoughts on the matter, British sports journalist Ned Boulting added fissure when he lent support to the female dilemma of using the suggestion of sexuality to gain attention, while slapping those who would then dare to objectify/shame a woman for doing so.
‘Over and over and over again, my female colleagues have to defend themselves from institutional disrespect. I take your voice, Sophie, and I add mine,’ the male reporter pitched in.
Commentators on Twitter soon latched on, with one fan posting, ‘Mate, she’s wearing a top. That’s it. What’s the problem? Jesus Christ you’re a dinosaur.’
Yes she’s wearing a top, and she has every right to dress as she may. But dare any man publicly condemn or question why (and forget trying to be funny…) any female may choose to dress or behave in a certain way- for fear of being pounced on in a post #metoo climate.
Spoormakers has since issued the following apology: ‘What was meant to be a funny remark, turned out to be offensive to a lot of people. That was bad judgement. Sorry. And to @lelumendy in particular: we never met, but if you’re ever in Belgium, you’re welcome to discover I’m not the brontosaurus you think I am.’
A little too much too late Sven…