The first week of the 2013 Giro has passed. After heading into the race as a favorite, Bradley Wiggins hasn’t had the most stellar performance, sitting a little over a minute behind the leaders. He has had his share of difficulties this year, but that leaves no excuse for his comments after Friday’s rainy stage, where he crashed on the descent with about 7km to go.
“Let’s be honest,” he said, “I descended like bit of a girl really after the crash.” He quickly attempted to hide his faux pas, throwing in, “not to disrespect girls, I have one at home.”
That’s your excuse, Wiggo? You have a daughter, therefore… it’s ok. Whether or not his comments were genuinely intended as an insult (to be honest, I doubt that he was purposefully being demeaning… let’s not overlook that he is backing the Wiggle Honda women’s team), but that is far removed from the problem. It is the attitude towards women in sport that is the issue at hand here, and how female athletes are viewed. The view of women being the weaker, fairer sex is damaging to what women can achieve in sport, and to the further development of women’s cycling.
Let’s face it, women have more obstacles than men to deal with if they want to be successful athletes in any sport. Why drag women into your lack of confidence, Wiggins? How is that anyone’s problem but your own? Five-time Giro winner Eddy Merckx puts it correctly, “He’s ridden the past few days like a novice on the downhills. I think there is something wrong with his material, he has no confidence.” A novice, he says. Not a girl, not a woman. A novice. He leaves gender out of the equation.
Let me reiterate, I don’t believe that Wiggins necessarily meant to be insulting. The bigger issue is here the way in which we talk about women in sport, the comparisons drawn and the language used. It’s a shame that comments such as these are commonplace, however it has far more to do with male insecurity than female inability. Anyone can have an off period on the bike, or a time where they are lacking confidence, but please, leave gender out of it.