For the Uninitiated: #TwirlGate

#Twirlgate: refers to social (and consequently mainstream) media criticism and discussion of an incident that occurred during the 2014 Australian Tennis Open.

The world number 7, Eugene Bouchard appeared to be pressured into doing a twirl on court during her post match victory interview.  The incident resulted in a media storm with some commentators  describing it as a serious example of casual sexism in sport.

#Twirlgate arose out of this little incident:

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Which lead to the male reporter being accused of sexism and lots of social and mainstream media traffic debating and discussing what exactly the incident says about sexism in tennis, sport and the world generally.

Men like this help women to hate sport.  If such successful athletes come under attack for the way they look, how does the average woman with a muffin-top thinking about going for a jog feel? That fear of judgment – by men, other women and, just as importantly, themselves – clearly contributes to the shocking fact that, in the UK, two million fewer women than men exercise regularly.  Glenda Cooper – Daily Telegraph

As is often the case with such ‘twitter storms’, the debate raged across a offense-o’meter spectrum ranging from ‘for the love of god, when will this blatant hatred, oppression and objectification of women end‘ to ‘Seriously dude? Do any rational adult human beings not being paid to bang on about this sort of thing actually give a rats ass?

Have a guess which end of the fence this lady is sitting on:

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For what it’s worth, while I get the point Janet Mock and her twitter informants are attempting to convey, I personally am closer to the other end of the scale along with the one person in this sad sordid scenario who has a genuine right to be offended, or not, as the case may be:

One of the splendidly diverse range of ways that a man can be accused of acting in a sexist manner is by talking on behalf of their female partner when, in her capacity as a mature adult human being, she is obviously more than capable of giving her own opinion.

Ironically this is something that people like Janet Mock are guilty of when taking offence on behalf of someone who isn’t actually offended.  Mock also appears to be experiencing an episode of glass blind-spotism when she conveniently ignores the bit of the Serrena Williams quote that would completely torpedo her preferred narrative…

“I didn’t really want to twirl because I was just like, you know, I don’t need all the extra attention. “But, yeah, it was fine. I don’t think and look that deep into it.  “Life is far too short to focus on that. We have so many other problems we want to deal with that we should focus on.  “Whether I twirl or not, it’s not the end of the world. It’s about being positive and just moving forward.”  Serena Williams

At best, I think #twirlgate is indicative of the type of first world feminist problem that most women in this world would love to have at the top of their activist list.  At worst, it might just be the type of simple sexist shenanigans that women who either don’t really like men or are paid to talk about sexism excel at pushing into the media.

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In the run up to the incident the two sports stars that were unceremoniously sucked into the centre of the twitter storm, were tweeting about each other’s outfits and, as the next two links show, they both clearly love fashion.  My guess is that this probably had a lot to do with the twirl thing and I suspect that if Rafael Nadal had his own clothing label or was the type of guy to give media interviews about the tiny pink shorts he was gifted by a Perth designer before the tournament, then he might end up having to give his audience the occasional twirl also.

Based on the available evidence, I do get the impression that neither Bouchard or Williams particularly wanted to twirl but they also both appeared extremely reluctant to embrace the whole shame the horrible sexist pervy olde dinosaur narrative.

“They try to ask funny questions,” “It’s entertaining, I guess. I don’t mind it. People can think what they want about it, but I just answer how I want and do what I want. I’m fine with it.” Eugine Bouchard

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One wonders what personal and professional fall out was experienced by the tv sports journalist who’s had his card marked as sexist on the world stage.  Lest we forget he was accused of conducting a sexist television interview, which wasn’t actually broadcast on television until after someone reached for their twitter app.

The most worrying thing about #trending incidents like this is their general randomness.  If anyone can explain why Ian Cohen deserved to win the public shaming lottery for this incident, as apposed to the incident in the previous round when he asked Serena Williams to do exactly the same thing then please enlighten me.

For bonus bloke credits if anyone out in the blogosphere can explain why Cohen deserved to get ‘called out’ more than the guy in the next video then I reckon we’ll all be able sleep a little sounder knowing what exactly the rules are, not to mention who gets to make them and why.

Next | Erin Prizey

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