Being a woman in today’s world is a task in itself, you have to be cautious all the time; check the way you walk, talk, sit and eat. Perhaps even breathe. If you don’t, society will turn a blind eye as patriarchy's pawns unleash their sexist opinion and scrutiny against you. Italian athlete Linda Cerruti too had to endure trolling on social media, because people chose to focus on what she wore over her achievements.
Cerruti had recently shared a photo of herself on Instagram with the eight medals that she won at the European Aquatics Championships, however, the Olympian's post went viral but for all the wrong reasons.
In the picture, she was posing upside down by the ocean in a leopard-print bikini. Cerruti’s eight medals were seen suspended from her legs, which were hoisted in the air as she performed a split. Cerruti received “thousands” of sexist comments on her post as trolls objectified her body in every way possible.
In a subsequent post, Cerruti slammed the trolls for objectifying her, writing, “I find it Shameful, to say the least, and it is heartbreaking to read the hordes of people making jokes that sexualise my body." Cerruti further asked, “Is a bum and two legs really the only thing there and the main topic of conversation? The minimum, and the only thing I can do, expose the inappropriateness of those comments, mirroring a society that is still very masculine and different from the one I would like to be born into and raise my children one day.”
Sexism knows no end
Our society claims to be working on gender-equality, but when a female athlete posts a photo of hers, men still think it is right to wash over her achievements by sexualising her body. If similar photos had been posted by a male athlete would we be scrutinising his body too? It is as if no matter what a woman achieves in her life, in the end, she is judged, shamed or celebrated just for her looks and body.
We as a society need to address this ‘mild-misogyny' that pushes women down and trivialises their achievements. What's worse is that men can get away with such demeaning comments because there are no checks in place to ensure accountability. Who is responsible for the mental health impact such online abuse can have on women? What is being done on policy-making level to deter sexism in the digital space? When will men face action for online harassment?
Holding men accountable for sexualising women's bodies is not enough. Action is needed from all corners of society to ensure that women don't have to fight the same battle again and again. Yes, sex and sexuality are an important part of a woman's life. Yes, our bodies are precious. But, as Cerruti pointed out, that can't be the only topic of conversation about women. Besides, male gaze shouldn't get to validate which aspect of women's existence matters more. We have to reclaim the narrative, not only about our achievements, but our lives too. We can wear what we want, and do as we please.
Views expressed are author’s own.