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17 Times Female Athletes Had To Put Up With Sexist Bullshit

Sure I can imagine saying that male athletes "glisten like wet otters."

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1. The mayor of London said that Olympic beach volleyball athletes are "semi-naked women" who "glisten like wet otters."

Cameron Spencer / Getty Images

It was one of Mayor Boris Johnson's "jolly good reasons" reasons to get excited about the 2012 Summer Olympics.

2. A reporter wrote about Serena Williams' body and how other female athletes avoid emulating her physique.

Toby Melville / Reuters

During Wimbledon this year a New York Times reporter centered his article about body image among elite female athletes on Williams' "large biceps and a mold-breaking muscular frame" and why other female athletes don't want to have a similarly muscular physique. The Times' public editor said: "I see this article as a missed opportunity to really get under the surface of a pervasive and troubling issue in women's sports and, particularly, women's tennis."

3. A sports reporter called race-car driver Danica Patrick a bitch (and more).

In the segment Fox5 San Diego anchor Ross Shimabuku says:

"Danica Patrick is such a pretty girl. And she makes a lot of money in sponsorships because of it. But what’s not sexy is that she’s sexy and she knows it."

The segment then cuts to a clip of Patrick in an interview (the words "I'm sexy and I know it" under her name on the screen) saying, "I don't quite understand — when you're referring to a girl, a female athlete in particular — you have to use the word 'sexy.' Is there any other word you can use to describe me?"

Shimabuku comments: "Oh, I got a few words. Starts with a 'b' and it’s not beautiful."

4. A tennis announcer asked Serena Williams and Eugenie Bouchard to "twirl" to show off their outfits.

Do you think the 'twirlgate' story is a bit of lighthearted fun or was it sexist? Let us know: http://t.co/7qBgnMg9Om

It happened at the 2015 Australian Open; the announcer asked both athletes (ranked numbers 1 and 26 in singles tennis in the world respectively) to twirl following their second-round matches. ESPN reported that Bouchard clearly felt awkward. It became known as #Twirlgate.

5. In an effort to help them look more feminine, the International Amateur Boxing Association (IABA) provided female boxers with athletic skirts to box in.

Chung Sung-Jun / Getty Images

In 2010 the president of the IABA said: "I have heard many times, people say, 'We can't tell the difference between the men and the women,' especially on TV, since they're in the same uniforms and are wearing headgear."

6. During the Women's World Cup a SportsCenter anchor said that Germany failed to stop a goal because they didn't want to muss their hair.

Andre Ringuette / Getty Images

TV personality Stephen A. Smith said that the German team didn't stop Norway's free kick goal because "they might not have wanted to mess their hair up."

7. The NYT implied that Lolo Jones was getting way more attention for her beauty than she should considering her athletic achievements.

GABRIEL BOUYS / Getty Images

In the lead-up to the 2012 Summer Olympics, an article in the New York Times said that track and field athlete Lolo Jones had been getting more publicity than any other American track-and-field athlete who'd be competing in the Games and that her popularity was "based not on achievement but on her exotic beauty." It also reminded readers that Jones had posed "on the cover of Outside magazine seeming to wear a bathing suit made of nothing but strategically placed ribbon" and that "she has proclaimed herself to be a 30-year-old virgin and a Christian. And oh, by the way, a big fan of Tim Tebow."

He concluded: "If there is a box to check off, Jones has checked it. Except for the small part about actually achieving Olympic success as a hurdler."

8. An Australian newspaper polled readers on their thoughts about an Olympic swimmer's body.

Ezra Shaw / Getty Images

The Herald Sun asked readers to weigh in on whether Olympian Leisel Jones — who has, in the four trips she's made to the Olympics, won three gold medals, four silvers, and a bronze — was fit enough to swim in London in the 2012 Olympic Games. A photo caption in the article read: "The Olympic veteran's figure is in stark contrast to that of 2008."

9. An official from UK Athletics said that British heptathlete Jessica Ennis-Hill needed to lose weight.

Ian Walton / Getty Images

Ennis-Hill's coach reported that an official he wouldn't name said that "she's fat and she's got too much weight." A few months later Ennis-Hill won the gold medal in the heptathlon (an event made up of 10-meter hurdles, high jump, shot put, 200- and 800-meter races, long jump, and javelin throw) at the London Olympic Games.

10. South African Olympic gold medal runner Caster Semenya was made to undergo a "gender verification test."

OLIVIER MORIN / Getty Images

After Semenya won the 800-meter race at the World Championships in 2009, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) demanded she be tested by "an endocrinologist, a gynaecologist, an internal medicine expert, an expert on gender and a psychologist" to determine whether she should be allowed to keep her medal and continue competing as a woman. The IAAF eventually ruled that Semenya would be allowed to compete.

11. In 2013 a BBC broadcaster said that French pro tennis player Marion Bartoli was "never going to be a looker."

Elsa / Getty Images

BBC personality John Inverdale was fired after saying on live radio, "Do you think Bartoli's dad told her when she was little: 'You're never going to be a looker, you'll never be a Sharapova, so you have to be scrappy and fight?'"

12. Conan O'Brien made fun of Olympic weightlifter Holley Mangold's weight and sexual attractiveness on Twitter.

O'Brien tweeted, "I predict 350 lb. weight lifter Holley Mangold will bring home the gold and 4 guys against their will." Mangold can lift a barbell that weighs 320 pounds from the floor to over her head.

13. Leading up to the 2012 Summer Olympics, a Scottish comedian made fun of swimmer Rebecca Adlington's face.

Clive Rose / Getty Images

Frankie Boyle tweeted, "I worry that Rebecca Adlington will have an unfair advantage in the swimming by possessing a dolphin's face." Adlington holds two Olympic gold medals and was England's first Olympic swimming champion since 1988 and the first British swimmer to win two gold medals since 1908.

15. A tennis official questioned the Williams sisters’ gender and called them “frightening.”

Eduardo Munoz / Reuters

Shamil Tarpischev, the president of the Russian Tennis Federation, was a guest on a late-night talk show in Russia when he referred to Venus and Serena Williams as the "Williams Brothers" and said, "It's frightening when you look at them." Tarpischev was fined $25,000 and then suspended from the Women's Tennis Association for one year. Serena Williams said his comments were racist and sexist.

16. The coach of the Cameroon's women's soccer team said that Brazil's team was problematically heavy.

Julian Finney / Getty Images

After Brazil beat Cameroon 5–0 at the 2012 Summer Olympics, knocking them out of the women's soccer tournament and preventing them from moving on to the quarterfinals, Cameroon coach Enow Ngachu said of the Brazilian women: "Their players look a bit heavy to me — that might be a problem for them as well."

17. On a 2013 episode of his podcast, MMA commentator Joe Rogan discussed transgender MMA fighter Fallon Fox's genitals.

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Weighing in on whether Fox should be allowed to fight against other women, Rogan said, "I say if you had a dick at one point in time, you also have all the bone structure that comes with having a dick ... don't care if you don't have a dick any more."

Vice reported that as "medical professionals have stated, hormone replacement therapy has a way of adjusting bone density, muscle mass, and eroding other advantages trans athletes may have."

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