Gabby Douglas apologizes after Simone Biles calls out victim shaming tweet

Guardian sport
Gabby Douglas, left, and Simone Biles captured gold medals in the team event at last year’s Olympics. Photograph: Harry How/Getty Images

Gabby Douglas has apologized for saying that women should “dress modestly and be classy” to avoid enticing “the wrong crowd”, a comment that drew criticism for victim shaming and kicked off a public rift between members of last year’s US Olympic women’s gymnastic team.

Douglas, a three-time Olympic gold medalist, said she was “deeply sorry” for a tweet in response to Aly Raisman, the US team captain at the London and Rio Games where both won team golds in addition to individual medals.

“i didn’t correctly word my reply & i am deeply sorry for coming off like i don’t stand alongside my teammates,” the 21-year-old Douglas tweeted.

Raisman, who last week confirmed she was sexually abused by longtime USA Gymnastics doctor Lawrence G Nassar, had posted a message about the victim shaming weathered by women who come forward with stories of sexual assault.

“Just because a woman does a sexy photoshoot or wears a sexy outfit does not give a man the right to shame her or not believe her when she comes forward about sexual abuse,” the 23-year-old Raisman wrote. “What is wrong with some of you? AND when a woman dresses sexy it does not give a man the right to sexually abuse her EVER.”

The six-time Olympic medalist continued: “Women are allowed to feel sexy and comfortable in their own skin, in fact I encourage you all to wear what you feel good in. I will not put up with any woman or girl being shamed for wanting to wear a skirt, dress, etc. I do not tolerate it. Are we clear? Oh and one more thing. STOP VICTIM SHAMING. It is because of you that so many survivors live in fear.”

That’s when Douglas responded in a since-deleted tweet: “however it is our responsibility as women to dress modestly and be classy. Dressing in a provocative/sexual way entices the wrong crowd.”

The remark prompted widespread backlash on social media including from Simone Biles, who won team gold alongside Douglas at last year’s Rio Games.

“shocks me that I’m seeing this but it doesn’t surprise me…,” Biles, 20, wrote to Douglas, attaching a screen shot of the deleted tweet. “honestly seeing this brings me to tears bc as your teammate I expected more from you & to support her. I support you Aly & all the other women out there! STAY STRONG.”

By using Yahoo you agree that Yahoo and partners may use Cookies for personalisation and other purposes