Entitlement Culture Is This Tennis Player Assaulting the Female Reporter Interviewing Him On-Air
Women are not your trophies.
— Prise Marteau (@PriseMarteau) May 30, 2017
French tennis player Maxime Hamou has been banned from the French Open following that interview up there. In it, while being questioned by Eurosport reporter Maly Thomas, he repeatedly tried to kiss her. As she dodges his mouth and weaves out from under the arm around her shoulder, her colleagues watch from the studio, laughing, until finally, his grasp tightens around her neck and he begins to pull her backwards. The whole thing is, at best, really uncomfortable, and I’m guessing for most of us, it’s fully disturbing.
For many who watch that video, immediate questions come to mind like, “But why didn’t she do something?” Or, “I would have …” But in a moment like that, when she is at work, doing her job, the shock of being grabbed and groped must be overwhelming. Combined with the fact that her job is to remain professional and smiling for a camera, the internal battle of punch him or just finish the interview? is one that’s impossible to speculate on when we’re not the ones living through it.
For the record, though, Thomas says she would have punched him, too, if she hadn’t been live on the air. She told HuffPo France the whole experience was “frankly unpleasant.”
Hamou posted an apology to his Instagram that only serves to highlight the problem. The translation (via Deadline) reads, “After the show ‘Avantage Leconte,’ I have to give my deepest regrets to Maly Thomas if she felt hurt or shocked by my attitude during her interview. I just lived a magnificent week here at Roland Garros as I lived my most beautiful thrills as a tennis player, and I allowed my overflow of enthusiasm to bleed clumsily toward Maly, who I know and respect sincerely. Nothing but what is written was my intention.”
That’s not an excuse; it’s the fundamental issue. When a young man is riding high in celebration mode, women all too often are seen as trophies. What would a movie be if the guy didn’t get the girl at the end? What would a tennis tournament be if the young player didn’t get to kiss the pretty reporter? Even that tweet up top describes Hamou as being in “seducer mode.” The entitlement felt by and projected onto men following a success extends to women’s brains and bodies, with an expectation that women want to give themselves to these winners, and must feel honored to be considered such a prize. The wording of his apology very clearly puts the blame of the interaction on Thomas, if she felt hurt or shocked. The mentality persists that his actions were totally normal, and that if there’s a problem, that’s on her.
The fact that he was banned from the event is a good step towards de-normalizing this behavior, at least. Kudos to the management of the tournament for making it clear that sexual assault and sexual harassment are not acceptable in sports or anywhere.
Hamou ended his apology offering to issue another in person if Thomas is open to it. Because why just apologize when you can turn that apology into more on-air publicity, right?
He probably shouldn’t hold his breath.
(via Deadspin, image: screengrab)
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