The French artistic swimming team targeted by “salacious, racist and misogynistic” comments for a photo on social networks

The laughter of Mathilde Vignères, which punctuates the exchange, contrasts with the rapid flow which reveals the latent annoyance of her teammate of selection, Manon Disbeaux. But the feeling is the same: an intense anger shared by the two athletes. After winning three bronze medals at the European Swimming Championships in Rome, the swimmers of the French artistic swimming team leave aside the sportsman to return to an event that occurred just before the start of the competition.

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As a leader, the former captain of the Bleues, Solène Lusseau, screenshots in support, took charge of denouncing comments “salacious, racist and misogynist” who invaded one of the posts of the French team, just before the competition, in a story published on social networks on Wednesday August 17. “Yes, artistic swimming is a presentation sport where the body and aesthetics are important, she says. But there is no reason to talk about these young women in this way.”

“These comments are shameful and too serious to ignore as they still reveal big issues with the mentality and over-sexualization of women.”

Solène Lusseau, former captain of the France team

on social networks

We posted this photo during our first training on site, it was former swimmers and teammates who saw the comments coming in and sent them back to us“, remembers Mathilde at franceinfo.

You should know that all the team’s social networks are managed by the swimmers. The comments, we see them”, adds Charlotte Tremble. “It pissed us off, we were disgusted, but we tried not to dwell on it too much to focus on the competition, where we had strong objectives. The old ones took over to answer, share, they served as a buffer”continues Mathilde.

If the swimmers are not really surprised to receive such messages, their number and the profile of the authors they were able to identify, because public, have marked them deeply. “These are people, men, who are old enough to have young girls our age, I find that even more horrible“, confides Charlotte.

“They are just men, 40s, 50s, father of a family. The oldest in the team at 24, they could very well be our fathers. The good thing is that no youngster has write a comment like “

Mathilde Vignères, swimmer for the French artistic swimming team

at franceinfo

By denouncing the comments, the medalists were then able to see new criticisms flourish against them from certain Internet users, including a famous “But you are on social networks, it was to be expected”.It’s not more acceptable in society than on social networks!”, they retort unanimously before emphasizing the extent to which the use of networks is necessary for the visibility of their sport. “It’s not a very publicized sport so it opens a small window or even a big door for the people who follow us.”, explains Charlotte. “Artistic swimming in France is struggling to be recognized as a high-level sport, complete Manon. People find it hard to see beyond the show side, the glitter, the excessive make-up, the smile that you have to put on to make everything look easy. It’s something we try to deconstruct by highlighting our daily lives.

“It’s too easy to say: it’s social networks, it’s mentalities, we can’t change them like that… If we don’t fight on our small scale, it will never change. “

Manon Disbeaux, swimmer for the French artistic swimming team

at franceinfo

These comments are nevertheless “less present than messages of support“, points out Charlotte. The Blues quickly received that of the Olympic champion and three-time European judo champion Romane Dicko. “Sexist, racist, misogynistic comments and so on (…) It’s 2022 and people still find it normal to make these kinds of comments? So an athlete can’t just do her sport without being sexualized? So a woman can’t just exist, without being sexualized?”, asked the friend of the Aspen sisters and resident of Insep. “His reaction touched us a lot even if it did not surprise us. This is also and above all what we are looking for on social networks, to communicate with people who understand and support us.“, comments Mathilde.

A mark of support that feeds an increasingly visible sisterhood between athletes among this new generation of sportswomen. “Romane Dicko is here the perfect illustration of these issues of sorority and the new generation of sportswomenconfirms sports historian Marion Philippe. Romane Dicko often denounces this kind of thing. Not long ago, Rénelle Lamote did the same by denouncing a junkyard dog behavior‘, to which we are often entitled as a woman in the street and, she, as an athlete.

Marion Philippe continues:VSWhat is interesting is that tennis players, for example, sometimes denounce this kind of thing without having an activist position, which is also denounced by certain sociologists such as Christine Mennesson or Béatrice Barbusse. Athletes or sportswomen do not declare themselves feminists as if it were a swear word and yet they sometimes take a stand. Until recently, the women who were engaged in denouncing this kind of behavior were no longer necessarily active, so to see this new generation in activity starting to support their comrades, it is important. An evolution in which the social networks – again them –, by their capacity to make visible and “to create a link”, are not innocent.

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By speaking out in this way, the swimmers hope at the same time to raise awareness about comments that may seem innocuous, but which contribute to a hypersexualization of their bodies.

“The problem is that we always bring female athletes back to their bodies and not to their performance”

Mathilde Vigneres

at franceinfo

In the lot, there were also ‘You are very beautiful, girls’. At the beginning, I said to myself: well that’s fine… But in fact, when we look at the photos posted of a male athlete, we will never say to him: ‘You are beautiful’. And it will come even less from other mencontinues Mathilde. We will rather say ‘Oh you’re too strong’, ‘Good luck’….

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