Carlota Fernández Osorio
“I know girls who are not doing as much exercise as they were before and girls who dropped out of sports because of these sorts of behaviors (Verbal Sexual Harassment).”
Taking into account the following examples of Verbal Sexual Harassment and ‘catcalling’ in sports:
- A coach or manager asking an athlete for sex or a date
- Referring to an adult as a girl, hunk, doll, babe, or honey
- Whistling at someone, cat calls
- Making sexual comments about a person’s body
- Making sexual comments or innuendos
- Turning training discussions to sexual topics
- Telling sexual jokes or stories
- Asking about sexual fantasies, preferences, or history
- Asking personal questions about social or sexual life
- Making kissing sounds, howling, and smacking lips
- Making sexual comments about a person’s clothing, anatomy, or looks
- Repeatedly asking out a person who is not interested
- Telling lies or spreading rumors about a person’s personal sex life
Have you witnessed or experienced personal situations of Catcalling or Verbal Sexual Harassment (VSH) during your activity in sports organizations?
Yes, but mostly in sports in general (Exercising in the streets or in the gym) more than in top-level sports.
¿ Do you remember any relevant stories of VSH or catcalling that have left a mark on you?
Luckily I’ve never experienced anything relevant enough to leave a mark, but it’s a usual thing to get comments or unwanted attention while exercising in the street just for the fact that you’re a woman. For example, whistles while you jog, guys approaching you while you exercise or inappropriate messages on social media referring to your body or your looks when you post a video doing some sort of exercise or sport.
¿Did you identify those situation as Verbal Sexual Harassment in that moment?
I believe we don’t identify this as Verbal Sexual Harassment because society has taught us to be used to it, because it’s occasional or because it’s normally never the same person, it’s not usually the same person, or at least in my case…
¿What do you do in these situations?
I just ignore them, if they make a comment while jogging in the streets or even if they approach me with some sort of intention of harassing me, I always pretend I didn’t see or hear anything, or sometimes I’m quite categorical.
¿Have you tried to cope with this situation? Have you talked to someone about it?
When you talk about it there is a feeling of ‘overall acceptance’, nobody will consider this as a type of harassment but more like a ‘bad attitude´or lack of respect, but we have never named this sexual harassment, maybe because we want to underplay it or try to avoid having to deal with something that quite affects us.
¿How does it affect your personal and sports life?
It doesn’t really affect me, personally, I believe I’m strong and self-confident. But I’m conscious of the damage this can do to other people. I know girls who are not doing as much exercise as they were before and girls who dropped out of sports because of these sorts of behaviors (Verbal Sexual Harassment).
¿ What advice would you give to girls who have suffered or are suffering ‘catcalling’ and Verbal Sexual Harassment?
At first I would suggest just to ignore it, even if this is not the solution it’s the easiest way for this not to affect you, and then evaluate the situation objectively knowing that it’s nothing personal (unless it’s something reiterated and it’s always coming from the same person, in that case you might have to think of more drastic ways to deal with it)
Starting from there and as we gain more and more confidence, confront it in case we feel it’s necessary, as it’s everyone’s fight not to accept it as something normal and to make a change in our society.