AP thinks the second best female athlete of 2009 is a horse

// 22 December 2009

UPDATE: Feministing got the full rankings and found out there are actually two horses in the AP’s top 10 female athletes of 2009. Really!

First off, well done to Serena Williams, named best female athlete of the year by the Associated Press.

Unfortunately, the wire’s choice for the second best female athlete this year… is a horse.

CBC reports:

The real head-scratcher, and a possibly offensive result, is that a horse finished second.

The filly Zenyatta capped a 14-0 career by becoming the first female horse to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

That’s terrific, but is it really deserving of second place in a year where there were definitely some strong female, human candidates?

CBC goes on to talk about how another horse has previously entered in at 6th male athlete of the year, so it’s not unprecedented for an animal to be included, but frankly I do think it’s a bit offensive.

They wonder:

The votes are cast by editors at U.S. newspapers that are members of the AP. In a 2010 world, are they even a relevant group, demographically or professionally, to be picking female athlete of the year?

I don’t know the answer to that, but the voting in recent years seems to suggest otherwise.

Interestingly CBC also talks about how nationalistic the awards are – apparently the last non-US athlete to win one of these was Ben Johnson in 1987. It’s hard to think that’s an accurate reflection of world athletic prowess.

All this ties into Natalie’s feature for us this week about sexism in sports coverage in this country.

Via women talk sports’ Twitter stream.

Comments From You

Jennifer Drew // Posted 22 December 2009 at 11:10 pm

Well, given Associated Press continues to be male-dominated and male-centered I am not in the least surprised. However why a female horse? Surely a male horse would have been more appropriate. After all Associated Press is all about reporting news stories which promote the myth men are the centre of the universe and women exist to serve men’s needs etc.

Ah no doubt claims will be made we should not take offence because we are being too sensitive etc. etc. but given women’s presence is to say the least minimal unless of course women are represented as men’s sexualised commodities or men’s sexual appendages – no I do not consider AP to be ‘humorous’ – just misogynistic.

Women’s Media is a excellent website which valliantly attempts to dislodge the male-dominated and male obsession with always reporting on news from the ‘male angle.’

Well, given Associated Press continues to be male-dominated and male-centered I am not in the least surprised. However why a female horse? Surely a male horse would have been more appropriate. After all Associated Press is all about reporting news stories which promote the myth men are the centre of the universe and women exist to serve men’s needs etc.

Women’s Media is an excellent website which valiantly attempts to dislodge male-centered perspectives with regards to the myth ‘the world does indeed revolve around males.’ No AP you are not being ‘humorous’ or ‘ironic’ but you are certainly engaging in misogyny and blatant contempt for women athletes.

http://www.wimmonline.org/

http://www.wimmonline.org

Kez // Posted 23 December 2009 at 10:02 am

This actually made me laugh a bit, as it’s so silly (though it probably wouldn’t have, had I been one of the athletes pipped to second place by the horse).

Incidentally, while googling to find out who else was on the list, I stumbled across this classic headline on a blog: “Angry nag edges horse for AP Female Athlete of the Year honor.” Nice!

Anyway, while I agree that the US does sometimes have a tendency not to recognise the existence of the rest of the world, it’s not true to say the last non-US athlete to win the award was in 1987… that only applies to the men. Golfers Lorena Ochoa (Mexican, won twice) and Annika Sorenstam (Swedish, won 3 times) have both received the women’s award in recent years. Nonetheless though there is overall an overwhelming US dominance, especially on the men’s list, and an apparent inability to look beyond golf and tennis on the women’s list. (Kim Clijsters came 3rd in this year’s poll, I have eventually managed to find out. She’s been completely eclipsed in the media coverage by Zenyatta, the horse.)

The awards are voted for by a panel of sports editors… it’s hard not to wonder if the horse’s 18 votes (Serena got 66) were someone’s idea of a joke. While Zenyatta is clearly a wonderful racehorse, it does seem pretty disrespectful to all the human athletes deserving of the honour. Surely racehorses have their own award somewhere?

Jess McCabe // Posted 23 December 2009 at 10:48 am

Ahhh, thanks for that @Kez. I just relied on what CBC said, it’s interesting that they didn’t specify…

polly // Posted 23 December 2009 at 1:12 pm

Male horses everywhere are probably now writing to the Daily Mail complaining it’s reverse sexism because they didn’t get named 2nd best athlete.

Jodie // Posted 23 December 2009 at 6:07 pm

Haha Polly. Male horses joining forces with anti- misandry.com.

Karen Vaughan // Posted 23 December 2009 at 8:16 pm

Votes for horses by sexist pigs, crazy world we live in. Can I therefore name Tiger Woods as “Ass” of the Century? Nah didn’t think so. Not much good news out there, what with sexist apps for phones, xmas-approved sexism and now this display of contempt. Merry 2010 F-Worders, dreaming of the revolution….

Claire // Posted 30 December 2009 at 11:38 am

Great news: Benson the carp is down as one of the 12 men of the year on the BBC’s website. It seems that the other half of the human race are not immune from ridiculous choices of winners by the media. Shame he’s dead, compared to the other 11 winners, he would have made a good catch.

Anna // Posted 31 December 2009 at 8:43 am

I don’t really mind this too much – I can see how it would be offensive but there is a fair history of naming animals in sport, and it’s undoubted that she is a fantastic horse. Having said that, this could well be the inspiration for some art..

Kez // Posted 31 December 2009 at 3:21 pm

At least Zenyatta is alive… I’d be a bit miffed to be pipped to the man of the year title (if I were in fact a man) by a dead fish.

Meg // Posted 31 December 2009 at 5:02 pm

@ Claire, even funnier when, at least according to the articles I’ve read, Benson is a “she”. ;)

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