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Rise of women journalists in cricket

Frances Edmonds © Getty Images
Frances Edmonds had written her bestseller Another Blood Tour on England’s disastrous tour of West Indies in 1986 © Getty Images

By Sudatta Mukherjee

Anne Sebba, British writer, biographer and journalist, in one of her articles for London’s King’s College mentioned Virginia Woolf, where the latter once had said, “For most of history, Anonymous was a woman.”

Woolf herself was a pioneer of a revolution which saw female writers rising from the anonymous tag. Earlier, to which women were ignored so much that in the mid-1800s, Mary Anne Evans had to resort to use a male pen-name to ensure that her works were taken more seriously. Mary Anne Evans was none other than George Eliot.

There are two parts of the society: the first believes that women should restrict themselves to their household job — being a daughter, wife, mother, etc. The modernist, on the other hand, fights (at least they seem to) the argument stating that women should have equal rights and must have as much say as their males. As a result the United States Constitution had founded the Equal Rights Amendment in the 1970s.

Things changed over time. There was a rise in the number of women journalists and in some workplaces there were more women writers and journalists than their male counterparts. However, there was still a major gap: female journalists weren’t doing ‘hard news’; they weren’t discussing about economics, politics, media or sports; their writing was limited to fashion, entertainment, cooking, housekeeping, and the likes. And they were not being taken seriously.

As for cricket, there were a handful of famous female journalists – Tanya Aldred, Sharda Ugra and Jenny Thompson. Then there was Frances Edmonds, former wife of Phil, who had written her bestseller Another Blood Tour on England’s disastrous tour of West Indies in 1986.

Things changed with time. The rise of the internet and social media saw a steady  increase in female cricket journalists all over the world. Along with Ugra and Aldred, others like Firdose Moonda, Chloe Saltau, Sonali Chander, Prajwal Hegde, Hemal Ashar, Ellora Sen, Mayanti Langer and Kadambari Murali, etc. grew rapidly through the ranks.

While India has more female cricket hosts (especially during Indian Premier League) England and Australia have upcoming female writers. The good part of all this is that the rise of female journalists has seen a rise in women’s cricket also (as some of the present writers are also former women cricketers).

However, not everything has been going good for female journalists. More often than not female reporters are centre of sexist comments. Whereas, Indian anchors were ridiculed for asking stupid questions.

The problem is not restricted to being asking stupid questions: it is just about how the women are treated too. For example, during IPL 2013, anchor Karishma Kotak was lifted by Danny Morrison on live television. Whether or not Morrison was rebuked and slammed for his action, the very fact the women are not treated with respect is apparent here.

The viewers probably consist of the same people who shout for gender equality; these are probably the same people who participate in candle-marches against crimes against women in society; why, they might even have shouted on crimes against women and have resorted to ogling over female anchors in the evenings: what if they miss another Morrison-Kotak incident, or something spicier, live?

Female reporters are often used as glamorous toys to increase viewership and audience. The discussion usually comprises of – their looks, sense of fashion and their dates. It wouldn’t be a surprise if one gets to hear a spectator in the crowd asking a female reporter for her mobile number.

While sport associations stand for equality, the so-called equal society is yet to get out of the sexism mode and accept female reporters gracefully.

(Sudatta Mukherjee is a reporter with CricketCountry. Other than writing on cricket, she spends penning random thoughts on her blog and produces weekly posts on new food joints at Whopping Weekends. She played Table Tennis for University of Calcutta. When she is not writing, you will catch her at a movie theatre or watching some English serial on her laptop. Her Twitter id is @blackrosegal

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