As reported by Jeanine Laudy, the Dutch Cycling Federation recently launched an investigation into allegations of sexual harassment after former Dutch pro women’s cyclist, Marijn de Vries admitted to being intimidated by a male mechanic and inappropriate contact made by a soigneur.
“She continues: ‘I doubted myself. I didn’t say anything, because I didn’t want any fuss. And I was 30! I had a lot more life experience than my 18-year-old teammates, who lay down on his massage table too.’
In #Wheeler, I wrote about the character’s experience at the hands of her director sportif. I made a lot of assumptions about the sport, because really, I don’t know what goes on behind closed doors. Just the fact of being a woman, I used some of my own experiences and made guesses about others.
While I read the allegations by British track cyclist, Jessica Varnish about sexist behavior and discrimination, I wasn’t shocked. That type of behavior in sports, both men’s and women’s, is almost expected. It’s not any less appalling or inexcusable but we see it far too often on the sidelines.
This pro rider’s account of sexual misconduct made me sit back and cover my mouth. It was too close to some of the experiences I had written for #Wheeler but had chosen to discard. I had the personal ‘shock and awe’ moments already, I didn’t want to bring in yet another layer to the already many layered cake.
It sickens me because what Marijin said, that she didn’t ‘want any fuss’ is exactly what we as women are taught from the beginning. Don’t make a fuss. Don’t rock the boat. If you complain, you’ll be labeled as ‘difficult’, a ‘diva’ or ‘sensitive.’ You’ll be black listed. No one will want to work with you, let alone help you, for fear you’ll complain about them too, whether or not it’s true.
As Loren says in #Wheeler: “[Reporting it] will only get the media involved. The team doesn’t need that kind of exposure.”
We teach our children to tell a parent or teacher immediately if someone touches them. We point out ‘good touch’ and ‘bad touch’ to toddlers.
Does this education no longer apply when we reach a certain age?