Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation

Why Andy Murray is a perfect reminder of the importance of male feminist allies


This week, Andy Murray refused to let a BBC presenter ignore the Olympic achievements of Venus and Serena Williams. Stylist.co.uk's Moya Crockett says we need more men like Murray. 

I’ve always liked Andy Murray. I don’t care about his sporting abilities, or the glory-by-proxy his wins have bestowed upon Britain; I’ve tried to summon up an interest in tennis, but it hasn't happened yet. Despite this, there’s something about a dour Scot with a Chandler Bing-style aversion to smiling for the camera (see also: Gordon Brown) that has always warmed the cockles of my cold, cold heart.

And now, my long-standing soft spot for the world’s least charismatic sportsman has been softened even more.

In case you missed it, Murray won his second gold medal at the Rio Olympics on Sunday, after defeating Argentina’s Juan Martín del Potro. After the match, he popped along for an interview with the BBC’s John Inverdale.

“You’re the first person ever to win two Olympic tennis gold medals,” gushed Inverdale. “That’s an extraordinary feat, isn’t it?”

It is an extraordinary feat, of course. But as Murray – who has been a self-defined feminist ever since he witnessed the “criticism and prejudice” experienced by his former coach, Amelie Mauresmo – was quick to point out, he wasn’t “the first person ever” to achieve it.

“Well, to defend the singles title,” he reminded Inverdale. “I think Venus and Serena [Williams] have won about four each, but hadn’t defended a singles title before.”

In Rio, conversation quickly moved on. On the internet, however, people applauded.

With his characteristically understated manner, Murray’s gentle rebuke to Inverdale has reminded men around the world that it’s not only possible, but necessary, for them to call out low-level sexism when they see it. In the moment, it would have been so easy – so easy – for Murray to say nothing at all; to simply nod and grin along with Inverdale, and allow the Williams sisters’ “extraordinary feats” to be obscured by his own.

But part of being a male feminist must involve calling other men out on their bullshit – particularly ones like Inverdale. (Lest we forget, this is the man who once said of tennis star Marion Bartoli: “I just wonder if her dad did say to her when she was 12, 13, 14 maybe, ‘Listen, you are never going to be, you know, a looker… so you have to compensate for that’”.)

Because while there are exceptions, it’s often actually easier for men than women to challenge sexist language and behaviour when they see it happening. That’s the messed-up beauty of patriarchy, y’see: sexist men tend to be more likely to listen to other men.

So three cheers for male feminist allies – and three cheers for Andy Murray.

Images: Rex Features


gabby douglas at rio 2016 olympic games.jpg

Rio 2016: Gabby Douglas “heartbroken” over online bullying


Andy Murray backs Serena Williams in sexist pay gap debate

helen skelton short dress.jpg

Rio 2016: Female TV host wears shorts, #everydaysexism ensues

laura trott.jpg

Britain's female athletes celebrate wins at Rio 2016


Ready, set, go: Stylist meets Olympic sprinter Dina Asher-Smith

alessandra ambrosio team rio.PNG

This week's best A-List Instagrams

Corey Cogdell-Unrein.jpg

People are hitting back at sexist Olympics coverage


Kim Sears swearing; who gives a f***?


Wimbledon commentator accused of sexism after “creepy” comment


The best A-list Instagrams from the week so far

From Sienna Miller’s backstage inspiration to Jennifer Lopez’s cosy couple snap

by Nicola Colyer
23 Aug 2017

Prince Harry emotionally criticizes the paparazzi over Diana’s death

“She was still very much alive on the back seat of that car”

by Kayleigh Dray
23 Aug 2017

Chrissy Teigen gets real about her troubled relationship with alcohol

“I need to fix myself”

by Kayleigh Dray
23 Aug 2017

5 famous women have been targeted in disgusting private photo hack

Miley Cyrus, Kristen Stewart and Stella Maxwell are the latest stars to have their pictures leaked.

by Moya Crockett
22 Aug 2017

Tom Hardy's final CBeebies Bedtime Story is a tribute to his late dog

“Run with the angels... I will see you when I get there”

by Kayleigh Dray
22 Aug 2017

UKIP candidate suggests paying British Indians to leave the UK

And Twitter responds perfectly

by Moya Crockett
21 Aug 2017

Elisabeth Moss denies that Scientology is anything like Gilead

The Handmaid’s Tale star discusses the parallels between her show and her faith.

by Moya Crockett
21 Aug 2017

JK Rowling spots mansplainer in the wild, and deals with him perfectly

The Harry Potter author won’t let any woman’s confidence be knocked by mansplaining

by Kayleigh Dray
21 Aug 2017

The best A-list Instagrams from the week so far

From Nicki Minaj’s vintage look to a Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants reunion

by Nicola Colyer
18 Aug 2017

Chris Brown tried to excuse his attack on Rihanna, and it’s not OK

“Violence is a choice he made – and he alone is responsible for it”

by Kayleigh Dray
17 Aug 2017