Literally just a list of sexist things which have happened at the Olympics so far
We’ll probably have to keep adding to this to be honest
by Bec Oakes
This much is obvious: coverage of Rio 2016 has been outright sexist.
Because there’s nothing like the Olympic Games to remind women that we are inferior by patronising female athletes for the world to see at every given opportunity. Here’s a comprehensive guide to the most sexist things that have happened thus far.
The commodification of the female body started before the athletes even arrived in Rio, with the host nation promising it to have the “sexiest ever” opening ceremony with “lots of nearly naked women doing the samba”, as opposed to celebrating the masses of world-class athletes that would be competing.
However, according to NBC’s chief marketing official John Miller, this is just catering to the games’ female audience who are “less interested in the result and more interested in the journey. It’s sort of like the ultimate reality show and miniseries wrapped into one”.
And NBC didn’t stop there. They’ve made demeaning comments about the USA women’s gymnastics team – after dominating the qualifications for the all round team medal, the ‘final five’ were discussing their performance, to which one commentator said “they might as well be standing in the middle of a mall”, attempting to take away the power of arguably the most formidable team in Olympic gymnastics history.
Following US gymnast Simone Biles’ near perfect performance on the uneven bars, one commentator ‘complimented’ her by saying, “she might even go higher than the men”. A similar comparison was made of US swimmer Katie Ledecky, who has been said to “swim like a man” and was described as the “female Michael Phelps”. Instead of fully crediting these women for the athletes they are, they are forcibly compared to their male counterparts.
Also in NBC’s coverage of the games, they credited swimming coach Shane Tusup for Hungarian swimmer Katinka Hosszu’s record breaking performance in the 400 metre individual relay, referring to Tusup as “the man responsible” for her gold medal.
Elsewhere, the Chicago Tribune identified trap shooting bronze medallist Corey Cogdell-Unrein by her husband, referring to her as “wife of Bears’ lineman” in their coverage of her accomplishment.
— Chicago Tribune (@chicagotribune) August 7, 2016
They blatantly forgot to mention that this has been her third Olympics and her second bronze, following a medal winning performance in Beijing in 2008. The news outlet didn’t even include a quote from Cogdell, aside from the following, which funnily enough once again referred to her husband.
— Corey Cogdell Unrein (@CoreyCogdell) August 7, 2016
Another example comes from the Mail Online who, instead of focussing on the sheer talent of the female athletes at the gymnastics finals, decided to comment on their appearance, making a tally of Rio’s best and worst leotards. Comments included that one athlete’s leotard “failed to compliment her appearance” and another’s “turned heads for the wrong reasons” featuring “an unattractive teal hue and a rhinestone-covered collar”.
The Sun said Australian 100m hurdler Michelle Jenneke “certainly isn’t shy about showing off her body” in an article that focussed more on her toned physique and presence on social media than her sporting ability.
The media in general just can’t seem to get over the fact that medallist Dana Vollmer is a mother, despite the fact that she gave birth over a year ago. There’s hardly a single article out there that neglects to mention that she’s a “new mom”, implying that having a child makes a woman incapable of achieving the successes they did before giving birth.
In other examples, one commentator for the BBC described the women’s judo final between Kosovan Majlinda Kelemendi and Italian Odette Guiffrida as a “cat fight”, world record holding swimmer Sarah Sjostrom was continually asked by NBC commentators whether she would “do the samba on Copacabana beach” in celebration of her victory and Mexican gymnast Alexa Moreno was body shamed across social media, with trolls calling her a pig and more suited to a hotdog eating contest than a gymnastics one.
La gimnasta mexicana Alexa Moreno en su segundo salto. Ya fue eliminada la muy pig. pic.twitter.com/fhUqweDpLO
— Mr. RTK ? (@DimeBarbas) August 8, 2016
And, despite the amazing accomplishments of Rio’s female athletes, NBC, among others, hasn’t even had the decency to refer to them as grown women. At one point in the commentary announcers referred to the “men’s cycling team” and “girl’s cycling team”, another calling four-time gold medallist Missy Franklin as an “enthusiastic girl”.
However, not even commentators are safe from the whirlwind of sexism Rio has thrown up, as BBC presenter Helen Skelton was inundated with tweets for wearing a short dress, despite the fact that the temperature was 28 degrees, she was presenting from inside the humid swimming arena and her co-presenter, Mark Foster was wearing shorts.
— #GeeLoGreen (@lgeerththanan) August 6, 2016
That’s a lot of sexism and the Olympics are only half done. With another 10 days to go, who knows what outdated views and straight up disrespect are yet to come?
Photo courtesy of Fernando Frazão/Agência Brasil on Simone Biles’ Wikipedia page.
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