Yes, it’s 2019 and women in sport are still being sent sexist abuse on Twitter.
It’s tough being a woman playing sport, from being told to hide “flabby stomachs” while swimming to being subjected to stale and sexist advertising campaigns and being banned from playing in male-only snooker halls. It’s enough to make a woman feel unwelcome.
For some, like ex-England defender Alex Scott, life continues to be difficult even after their professional career on the pitch has ended.
Scott played for Arsenal as well as other teams and earned 140 caps for England before retiring in 2017. She was part of the BBC’s team of World Cup pundits in 2018 and is a regular pundit for both the BBC and Sky News.
But despite her expertise, is still subjected to sexist abuse on social media.
Speaking to the BBC, Scott said: “Twitter is there for everyone to see. I think I get it [sexist abuse] every single day now.”
We can’t read the minds of those who direct abuse at Scott, but we can only imagine they feel insecure about a knowledgeable, confident woman having the gall to give her expert opinion on men’s football.
But with her visibility, Scott is inspiring the next generation of young women who want to play sport. She told the BBC that she wouldn’t quit social media because that mean the trolls had won, and added: “What keeps me going is knowing that I’m helping. People are now coming up to me on the street and are saying exactly that.”
There has been progress in gender equality when it comes to sport. A new all-female motorsports race series has just launched, and the first race aired on Channel 4. The BBC’s Summer of Women in Sport this June and July will see women’s sport across all its channels, in the same way that men’s sport is shown.
These are great moves, but sport will only be truly equal when we’re able to stop talking about women’s football, or women’s tennis, or women’s cycyling, and just talk about football, tennis and cycling.
As Scott said: “We’ll get to the stage when I’m not regarded as a female pundit, I’m just a pundit.
“When we get to that point we’re getting somewhere.
“Me sitting there being strong enough to give my opinions in the way that I do it is normalising it.”
Scott, we applaud you.
Images: Charlotte Wilson/Offside/Getty Images, Molly Darlington/AMA/Getty Images