By Alle McMahon
A controversial interview with Canadian tennis player Eugenie Bouchard at this year’s Australian Open has formed a central part of a new online campaign calling for equal media treatment for female athletes.
After wrapping up a win against the Netherlands’ Kiki Bertens in the second round of this year’s Open, Tennis Australia commentator Ian Cohen asked Bouchard to spin around for the camera and show off her clothes.
“Could you give us a twirl and tell us about your outfit?” Cohen asked.
While the 2014 Wimbledon runner-up may have obliged, the interview sparked widespread criticism, with many taking to social media to express their disapproval using the hashtag #twirlgate.
Now, the interview is making a resurgence on social media as a key part of the #CoverTheAthlete campaign, which aims to level the playing field when it comes to media coverage of women in sport.
“Sexist commentary, inappropriate interview questions, and articles commenting on physical appearance not only trivialise a woman’s accomplishments, but also send a message that a woman’s value is based on her looks, not her ability — and it’s much too commonplace,” the campaign’s website states.
“It’s time to demand media coverage that focuses on the athlete and her performance, not her hair, clothes or body.”
To accompany its message, the campaign has released a video parodying the types questions that female athletes are often asked at sporting press conferences.
The video takes actual questions that have been asked of female sports stars in the past and adapts them to fit over news clips of interviews with male athletes.
The questions cover everything from the sport star’s figure to their sex life.
“You’re getting a lot of fans here, a lot of them female, and they want to know if you could date anyone in the world, who would you date?” one asks.
“Removing your body hair gives you an edge in the pool, how about your love life?” says another.
The campaign is gaining traction on Twitter, with many heeding the video’s message to contact their local media network with the message: “When you cover a female athlete, we want you to cover her performance and abilities.”
— There’ll Be Pancakes (@bringpancakes) November 5, 2015