Last week, a foreign male colleague asked me if I faced any discrimination as a female sports journalist in South Africa.
I explained that I work mainly with the national cricket team who have always treated me with the sane respect they afford male reporters. Four days later, that truth was shattered.
Alviro Petersen used Twitter to respond to an article I wrote assessing the one-day team’s performance in Sri Lanka. Petersen took issue with three words in a piece of 1433 which said his domestic record “did not justify,” his selection. He bombarded me with selective statistics to prove otherwise.
I responded with the numbers I had used, supplied by Cricket SA’s official statistician, to build my case. Petersen soon became patronising.
He called me “dear,” told me he would “do the research for me,” and sent me a link to a cricket website, “for free.”
Petersen did not enter into the same conversation with a male journalist who questioned whether his run in the one-day team was over.
But his true colours emerged when he retweeted a message from @Rg0112 who suggested I “find something else to write about, food or clothes maybe.” Then, what was a cricket argument turned into a sexist mudslingling match.
I was sent a youTube video titled “@FirdoseM v @AlviroPetersen” of a man and woman engaging in martial arts. The woman is soundly beaten. Another from @incubustard read, “u suck at ur job, if someone thinks u should be inside a kitchen, start screwing up less.”
After women received death and rape threats in the United Kingdom over a campaign to keep female faces on bank notes, Twitter introduced a “report,” button for abusive behaviour. Currently, this is only available on iPhones and will be on the web next month. That will be too late for me.
So was the eventual attempt at an apology. Cricket SA did not act immediately, but when I met with them two days later, they expressed concern.
They would also have had words with Petersen because around 11pm on Tuesday, he tweeted, “2 all my followers, I’m sorry for re-tweeting a tweet which may have come across as sexist. I apologize for any offence caused,”.
A minute later he posted another message about Somerset County, for whom he is playing. The insincerity struck me as obvious.
I will go on covering cricket, but I do not believe the environment I operate is as fair as I once so proudly proclaimed.
– Moonda is a cricket correspondent
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