A war of words has erupted between golfer Michelle Wie West and the former mayor of New York and lawyer for former president Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani.

The topic? Sexism.

Giuliani asked if he “could tell a story,” when he appeared on Steve Bannon’s “War Room” podcast recently. He was reminiscing about an incident with radio host Rush Limbaugh who died that day.

“The story” involved a round of golf with Limbaugh and Wie West.

Giuliani said that Limbaugh complained about the noisy paparazzi following their group, “driving us crazy.”

Limbaugh then blamed Giuliani for their presence. Giuliani was bemused, saying the cameramen were there to photograph Wie West, not them.

“On the green is Michele Wie, and she is getting ready to putt,” Giuliani said.

“Now Michelle Wie is gorgeous. She’s 6 feet. And she has a strange putting stance. She bends all the way over. And her panties show. And the press was going crazy. … I said ‘[Rush], it’s not me, it’s not you.’”

With a hint of belated insight, all too late, Giuliani asked “Is it okay to tell that joke?”

Wie West was not amused.

She responded on Twitter almost immediately.

“It’s unsettling to hear of this highly inappropriate story shared on a podcast by a public figure referencing my ‘panties’ whilst playing in a charity pro-am.

“What this person should have remembered from that day was the fact that I shot 64 and beat every male golfer in the field leading our team to victory.

“I shudder thinking he was smiling to my face and complimenting my game while objectifying me and referencing my ‘panties’ behind my back all day,” she added.

Wie West went on to express frustration over elite-level pro golfers being discussed in terms of their appearance instead of their game. The outing apparently took place in 2014, the same year Wie West won the U.S. Women’s Open at Pinehurst using a putting stance meant to improve her stats.

“What should be discussed is the elite skill level women play at, not what we wear or look like.

“My putting stance six years ago was designed to improve my stats (I ended up winning the US Open that year), NOT an invitation to look up my skirt.”

“Nike makes skirts with SHORTS built in underneath for this exact reason…so that women can feel CONFIDENT and COMFORTABLE playing a game we love,” she opined.

No doubt Wie West is politically and morally correct, but perhaps naïve when it comes to the sexual exploitation of athletes of both sexes.

Driven by a mesmerised public that is obsessed with beauty and vanity rather than sporting and intellectual prowess. Even in 2014.

Many athletes of both sexes in all sports have featured in magazines and on-line displaying their beauty and athleticism. They are well remunerated and have a choice to do so.

Golf only has to recall Jan Stephenson and her appearance on the cover of Sports Illustrated in 1977. She was approached by the LPGA Tour commissioner to become the face of the tour.

At the time, the LPGA was little more than a glorified money match with players effectively competing for each other’s money – the tour was largely ignored by journalists and spectators. Prize money was poor. For example, the winner of the U.S. Women’s Open walked away with $9,054.00, compared to $42,000.00 for the male winner.

As well as being a gifted player (her legacy is 16 LPGA titles and three majors) Jan Stephenson was sexy. She knew how to use her appeal in order to get herself, and the LPGA ‘out there’.

“A lot of what I did was ahead of my time,” she says. “People didn’t understand it and not everybody liked it.”

Just who was exploiting who at the time is a matter of perception. She single-handedly saved the LPGA Tour from extinction.

One of her smitten suitors at the time was none other than the future President of the United States, Donald Trump.

Stephenson took part in the Sport Magazine’s Sex In Sport Issue shoot. She was due to make a wardrobe change, took off her shirt and unclipped her bra, and as she looked for a a new outfit, put a thin, pink linen shirt over her head and tied it at the waist.

The photographer suggested he take a couple of pics of the impromptu outfit and – slightly off guard – Stephenson complied despite some misgivings. In today’s era, it would have had millions of hits on the Internet and inundated social media platforms. If the internet had been invented back then, this would have broken it.

Perhaps the point of difference is that of control and choice. Stephenson made a conscious decision to be portrayed as a sex symbol, knowing full well the consequences.

For Michelle Wie West, what was most galling was the public statement of lewdness and sexual objectification by someone of repute without consideration as to the effect on the person involved.

Wie West, 31, has won five times on the LPGA Tour but has been hindered by injuries in recent years. She has managed to do some television commentary and is currently taking a sabbatical from the game after the birth of her daughter in June.

In response, the LPGA issued a statement in support of Wie West on social media. Earlier, the United States Golf Association also replied to Wie West with a supportive post on Twitter, as follows:

“Sexism has no place in golf or in life.” “We are always in your corner.”

Ludo Aequitas agrees. Until we can learn to respect each other equally and with respect, such primitive impulses are best kept privately, not publicly.

 

Image via Total Pro Sports

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