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Indonesians are not only uniting to cheer the country’s representatives at the 2020/2021 Tokyo Olympics, but they’ve also come together to lambast a journalist for the needlessly sexualized angles to his stories about female athletes instead of focusing on their achievements.

Trouble began brewing for news outlet Viva News after it published an article about Indonesia’s mixed badminton doubles pair Praveen Jordan/Melati Daeva Oktavianti, who lost to China’s Zheng Siwei/Huang Yaqiong ⁠— the current world’s number one pairing in the category ⁠— in the quarter finals on Wednesday. 

The initial headline for the story on Viva News was “Indonesia’s badminton reputation damaged because of Praveen/Melati,” which received widespread backlash from passionate Indonesian badminton fans.

The headline was later changed to “Praveen/Melati failed to continue Owi/Butet’s success story in the Olympics,” referring to the legendary mixed doubles pair Tontowi Ahmad/Liliyana Natsir who won gold in Rio Olympics 2016. That story appears to have been taken down at the time of writing.

But the public crusade against Viva News did not end there, after Indonesian netizens spotted that the journalist responsible for writing the story, who we’ll identify by his initials RP, also recently wrote other disgustingly objectifying stories about female athletes at the Olympics.

Many of RP’s headlines sound like he had gone through physical pain after seeing female athletes’ selfies or just, you know, doing their thing. “Duh, the spread-legged pose of a beautiful Canadian badminton player at the gym makes us sore,” one headline reads. “ Australian badminton fairy training [only] in [sports] bra makes us sore,” reads another.

While RP constantly employs the word ngilu (sore) in his headlines, this one takes the sexism to another level and is a candidate for entry into the World’s Worst Headlines Ever: “Wow, the Australian badminton fairy shows off sexy photos with her ass visible.”

Amid their anger, Indonesian netizens were amused by the choice of words and even sarcastically suggested RP to take paracetamol or ibuprofen to treat his longtime soreness or fever, which was apparently caused by the female athletes he wrote about. 

As of this article’s publication, most, if not all, problematic articles written by RP have been taken down from Viva News. It’s possible that the news outlet, which, like many in Indonesia are guilty of sexualizing headlines for clicks, might only have resorted to the measure after screenshots of RP’s stories were posted on popular gossip page Lambe Turah for nationwide ridicule.

RP has not issued a statement or apology for his articles, and it appears he is lying low as he has recently deleted his Twitter account. Viva News has not issued a statement either despite calls from the public for the outlet and its editors to be held accountable for the clickbait headlines.

Of course, we have been calling for the Indonesian media to stop objectifying women for years. In 2021, are we finally seeing progress?

Read the latest news on Coconuts Jakarta

This article, Horny Indonesian reporter blasted over sexually objectifying headlines about female Olympics athletes, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia’s leading alternative media company.

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