Badminton and Sexism

Women’s Tennis was not popularised by the likes of Anna Kournikova but by stalwarts like Martina Navratilova and Steffi Graf

The Badminton World Federation (BWF) wants women players to wear skirts in tournaments from June 1 “to ensure attractive presentation” of the sport.  How sexist and insulting to women!

If we go by this logic, women’s tennis ought to have gained popularity through glamour dolls like Anna Kournikova and Sania Mirza , who oozed oomph on and off the courts, and not the likes of Martina Navratilova and Steffi Graf, who wowed fans with their brilliant play. Male fans may have been drawn in by the physical charm and beauty of such players as Gabriela Sabatini, Ana Ivanovic and Caroline Wozniacki, not by what they wore.

By stipulating that women badminton players should wear only skirts, not shorts, in tournaments, the BWF is clearly displaying a sexist attitude. In fact, the expectation of drawing mileage from sexy attire is an insult to women players who would want to corner glory for themselves with their playing strength and thereby do their might to popularise the game. They are not strip-tease artistes dancing to the tastes of audiences with sexy clothing.

Shorts Underneath Skirts: Wearing skirts may be no big deal for the players (as they can wear shorts underneath), but the reasoning of the BWF is farcical. It can lead to conclusions of racial prejudices. For instance, players from the West are used to wearing skirts whereas their Asian counterparts tend to be concerned about their modesty and may not be comfortable with swaying skirts (wearing shorts underneath may help ease this, but skirts then are an unwanted addition anyway).

The world knows that badminton is dominated by Asian women from countries such as China, Indonesia and India. So, it looks like the BWF is seeking to end that dominance through this new dress code. Imposition of Western cultures and practices on the rest of the world has to be resisted at all costs.

Cheer Girls: If the BWF is concerned that badminton was not attracting spectators, it can think of propping tournaments up by bringing on cheer girls, rather than try to get sex appeal from players.  Far from popularising the game, this may turn to be counter-productive and deter girls from taking to the game. Let men turn up at championships to watch women play great badminton, not to get cheap voyeuristic thrills from their mean instincts.

G Joslin Vethakumar

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One response to “Badminton and Sexism

  1. Pingback: Badminton and Sexism | Top of the Word | Badminton News and Events

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