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How this sports reporter shut down a sexist crowd chant with a single movement

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Hannah-Rose Yee
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When this female journalist was confronted by a disgusting movement in the crowd she had the perfect response. 

It’s great being a woman in 2019, isn’t it? So fantastic to go to work and, while carrying out that work, be hassled and heckled by men.

That was the experience of Diletta Leotta this week, an Italian sports reporter who, while on the job at a football match between Napoli and Brescia, was met with some appalling catcalling. “Fuori le tette!” the fans chanted at Leotta, which translates roughly to the inelegant “get your tits out”. 

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Leotta, who is a reporter for Radio 105 and DAZN among others, wasn’t fazed by the heckling. The immensely classy journalist kept walking through the chants, only pausing to raise her finger and shake it. She chastised those catcallers like they were the set of naughty, misbehaving schoolkids that their chants revealed them to be. Then, after wagging her finger, Leotta brandished a thumbs down to the crowd. 

Epic though Leotta’s clapback may be, it exposes the sadly all too frequent reality of street harassment suffered by women every day, especially women who are on the job and even more especially… female sports reporters.

All around the world, in every code, female journalists on the sports beat are subjected to appalling comments both on and off the field. Remember when Helen Skelton ‘flaunted her legs’ – by which we mean, she wore a skirt – at the Rio Olympics and social media had a meltdown? (This is how we feel about headlines stating that a woman “flaunted her legs” by wearing a skirt, by the way.) 

Or, in 2016, when West Indies cricketer Chris Gayle told Australian reporter Mel McLaughlin not to “blush, baby” during a post-match interview. “I wanted to see your eyes for the first time,” he said. “Hopefully we can win this game and then we can have a drink after as well.” Gayle was fined £5,000 for his sexist remarks and was asked to apologise to McLaughlin, who was described as “angry and upset” by the incident. 

Less than a year later, when Gayle was profiled in the Times magazine, he told journalist Charlotte Edwardes that he had a “very, very big bat, the biggest in the woooorld [sic],” before asking “you think you could lift it? You’d need two hands.” He also asked Edwards how many black men she has “had” and whether or not she had been in a threesome. “I bet you have,” he said. “Tell me.” 

Or there was this year, the year 2019, when Bulgarian boxer Kubrat Pulev kissed Jenny Sushe, a reporter for Vegas Sports Daily, and groped her buttocks during their post-match interview. 

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“I did not encourage or consent Mr Pulev grabbing my face, kissing me, or grabbing my backside,” Sushe said in a statement. “I was at the event covering the boxing match as a professional member of the press. Kissing a woman on her lips without her consent and grabbing her is not acceptable.” 

While we applaud the cool, calm and collected responses of journalists on the job like Leotta, we wish they didn’t have to contend with such sexism in their workplace in the first place. 

Images: Getty

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Hannah-Rose Yee

Hannah-Rose Yee is a writer based in London. You can find her on the internet talking about movies, television and Chris Pine.

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