Sports Gazette

by sports journalism students at St Mary's University, London

“Male journalists still claim women use sexual methods to get exclusive information”: Dibradoras’ founder on Brazil’s perception of women sports journalists 

Posted on 5 April 2018 by José Bourbon

“The sports female journalist is evaluated, first and foremost, for her beauty and her capacity to understand the sport. They are usually classified as hot or with little knowledge about football for the simple fact of being a woman,” said Roberta Cardoso.

Roberta is one of the four Brazilian journalists who in 2015 decided to create Dibradoras – an online project to fight for women sports journalists rights and women in sports in general. Roberta’s description may help to explain why similar situations of harassment and disrespect like what happened recently to Bruna Dealtry – a journalist from Esporte Interativo, who was kissed by a fan in the face – are nothing new in Brazil. The moment went viral when fifty-two women journalists (including Bruna) created a campaign called #Deixaelatrabalhar (in English, #Letherwork), in which they demanded football fans and the sports world to treat women with respect.

According to Roberta, it’s essential more movements like this appear to change this scenario:

“I think it’s really important and relevant that journalists take a clear position on this issue,” she said.

“If that happens, many men (especially journalists) may rethink their attitudes and the way they narrate, what will have consequences beyond the sports medium. The latest incidents of aggression and machismo within the stadiums have already been reproved by clubs and local authorities.”

From Roberta’s words, you can tell that even if this problem was denounced by journalists condemning fans attitudes while working, society will only change if newsrooms take the first step and change too. Starting with the contents they publish:

“Traditional sports media coverage takes an approach that is addressed to a heterosexual male audience only. Every approach of women in the sports media is always on the side of the ‘muse’, her aesthetic side, the sexy photos of the players’ wives and contributes to women’s objectification.”, Roberta said. 

“This is very bad, and it is something that feeds the “rape’s culture” [subtle or explicit behaviours that silence or relativise sexual violence against women] making women’s sport to be always set aside and devalued.”, she continued.

However, this will never change, until more women get inside the sports newsrooms.

“Without the presence of women in sports newsrooms, it becomes harder for men who work there to realise how much they are machista and sexist in their coverage,” she explained. 

“Also, although there are women working in sports reporting, they still do not hold high or decision-making positions in the newsrooms, which means that the few who exist have little voice and space to speak out. The change in sports coverage can only happen if that change, as the women’s perspective is essential to create a more diverse and less bias sports coverage.”

The way women’s sports journalists are still seen inside their job can also put them in the shadow: “Close friends of mine have been through situations where they were denied access to cover a sports event. Sometimes that happened because people still feel that women do not have enough knowledge, or, other times, just because they prefer to prioritize men for interviews,” she exemplified.

“We [Dibradoras] also know of cases of fellow male colleagues (journalists) who believe and claim that women journalists only get exclusive news because they use sexual methods to get information.”  

In trying to change the status quo, Dibradoras was born: “We wanted to do something different. We wanted to talk about football also for women who follow this sport and talk about women’s sports which are never discussed in the press.”

In fact Dibradoras is everywhere on social media – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube Channel and a Podcast on Brazilian Radio Central 3 – addressing not only the harassment issue and machismo, but other issues as the wage gap between men and women, the lack of space given to women in managerial positions and the lack of interest in women’s modalities and the objectification of women’s bodies.

 Roberta believes the progress of their work and other groups can slowly start to be seen in journalism:

“There are many more women in newsrooms, covering games at the stadiums, participating in sports debates and even venturing into the sports narration. Respect and equality still need to be strengthened, but campaigns are emerging and giving a very straightforward message to anyone who has not yet understood that sport is also a place for women.”

But if this problem often comes from men’s attitudes towards women, sometimes this can also be a consequence of some women mentality. 

Roberta explained: “Some women still do not consider some attitudes as being sexist, and some of them reproduce the sexist behaviour. There are also still those who believe that women are competitive with each other and can’t be friends in the workplace.

“This behaviour is very rooted in our culture (by men and women), and its deconstruction goes through a need of awareness of everything that has already been denied and labelled to us, women. Breaking taboos and old customs is a daily fight for women in society.

To break any taboo women usually have to work more than anyone:

“We try twice more, we check the information more often than usual, and we are always analysing our work in every way. Women need to be more cautious when giving a fact and passing information because any slip can cost us dearly”, she concludes.

Featured Image: CC BY-SA 3.0