Sexism in Golf

Sexism in Golf

Last month, I read a Tweet that made my stomach turn to knots. Michelle Wie West was responding to some off-hand remarks that Rudy Giuliani, a prominent American lawyer and politician, made about her on Steven Bannon's "War Room" podcast. This is not only gross but, wildly inappropriate. These comments deserve our attention, not because Wie is one of the best golfers in the world, but because women cannot continue to be objectified by their appearance in golf.

Rudy Giuliani recounted a “funny” story from when he played in a golf tournament with Michelle Wie West in 2014. Giuliani called Wie West “gorgeous” and said that while putting she “bent all the way over and her panties would show.” Wie West took to Twitter to respond:

My putting stance six years ago was designed to improve my putting stats (I ended up winning the U.S. Open that year), NOT as an invitation to look up my skirt! It’s unsettling to hear of this highly inappropriate story shared on a podcast by a public figure referencing my ‘panties’. What this person should have remembered from that day, was the fact that I shot 64 and beat every male golfer in the field leading our team to victory, I shudder thinking that he was smiling to my face and complimenting me on my game while objectifying me and referencing my ‘panties’ behind my back all day.

The United States Golf Association stood behind Wie West, saying “Sexism has no place in golf or life.” The USGA is exactly right – at no point should a man even think or consider it is right or “okay” to degrade a woman by talking and commenting about her appearance. For the record, Wie West was wearing a golf skirt with built-in shorts, a skirt commonly worn by female golfers. It is hard enough that women already feel unflattering on the course with the lack of golf clothing options available, but now we have to fight over the few options that make us feel like us on the course?

The miserable thing is that this is not an isolated incident and it has been something I have personally dealt with in my golf career. Whether it was playing on the course or working in a Pro Shop men have made me uncomfortable too many times. Even on social media, men are constantly putting down or objectifying women solely based on their clothing or appearances – to the point where it has become the main source of content for some pages. How can women possibly feel comfortable or safe on a golf course when in the back of our minds, we know how so many men feel about us on the course.

Now this problem just scratches the surface with Women in sports. The world needs to know that a lot of female athletes are higher caliber than their male counter parts. It is also not just the women athletes that have to deal with this sexual harassment, it’s the coaches, coordinators, the journalists, the broadcasters, and any woman involved in sports. I beg for change, I hope for a better environment and I want harassment to stop so golf and other sports can continue to evolve and become a space of inclusivity and equality.