feminism / politics

Closing the gender gap in sports: probably not achieved with Zumba


“I think let’s see how it goes and to be fair to broadcasters they’re looking at it and getting better,” she says. “You have to give it the chance don’t you. Let’s see how we do at the Olympics.”

^This is an actual quote from our Minister of Sport and Equalities when asked about the fact that there was little-to-no coverage of the women’s Ashes, which the female cricket team actually won. May I respectfully say that suggesting we watch for potential Olympic success as an indicator of women’s broadcasting/winning potential (after giving virtually no funding to the women involved) is like planting 3 lonely seeds, settling back for a while and saying ‘let’s see how well the orchard grows’. Just 0.5% of commercial sponsorship goes to women in sport and only 5% of the media coverage. So, really, do we expect to win so many Olympic medals that Sky Sports will suddenly say, “guys! Hey guys! Oh god, we’ve been getting it all wrong! LOOK at all the talented women!”…?

…yes, because that tactic worked so well for us post-summer games, didn’t it?

Over a year on from London 2012 and though Helen Grant makes the reasonable and true point that “we need to get to the point where women’s sport is looked on and regarded as equal to the men’s game.”, she then disappointingly moves on to suggest it’s about ‘asking grown women what they want…whether it’s a Zumba class or rounders”.


I have nothing against rounders. I actually really enjoy it. But by suggesting that we focus on ‘more feminine’ ways into sports for women will absolutely not close that gender gap. By suggesting a nice gentle Zumba class might be just what we secretly really want won’t garner more coverage for our utterly deserving women’s teams. Plus, staring down a chasm of funding disparity with an offer of ballet and gymnastics and femininity won’t garner more respect for women who are winning more medals in traditionally ‘male’ sports than the men are. Nor will it mean that brilliant olympians like Beth Tweddle won’t face disgusting levels of sexism for not looking ‘feminine’ enough or, quite frankly, for just being a woman in sport.


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