With the whole worlds eyes on The 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, Brazil, the media has gone haywire with articles about the events taking place and medals that are being given out. While there are many “first” that are occurring (for example, Simon Manuel became the first black female swimmer to win a gold medal!), the media has still managed to have a sexist outlook, whether knowingly or unknowingly. Early this week, Huffington Post published an article entitled “ Top 10 Most Sexist Things To Occur at the 2016 Rio Olympics So Far”. This article did a good job of listing the different ways that took form in a sexist way and explaining what made the specific thing sexist. So instead of re-stating what was already so beautifully stated in the Huffington Post article, instead this article will serve to delve into why exactly these sexist things were stated and why they may not have been viewed as sexist (but should’ve been).
1. When NBC Commentator stated that Simone Biles “might even go higher than some of the men”.
Everything women do from a young age is attributed to their gender; “you throw like a girl”, “you can keep up with the boys”, etc. These comments start from such a young age that they appear to be normal, harmless even. However, why should a woman be compared to her male counterpart? The comment that the NBC Commentator made was unnecessary and continues to perpetuate the ideology that men are better at sports than women are.
2. The Chicago Tribune labeling Olympian Corey Cogdell as “Wife of a Bears Lineman”.
Yes, you read it right – they didn’t introduce her as two-time Olympian; instead, they chose to focus on the fact that she is someone’s wife. While I am sure that this was simply a ploy to get football fans to read the article and not an intentional sexist remark (at least I’m hoping), it still is extremely sexist. A male athlete is NEVER introduced as “The husband of…” or “the boyfriend of…” so why would a highly accredited news source do this for a woman?
3. When an NBC Commentator stated that she would be the “first woman to win a medal after having a baby”.
While this comment was probably stated because, as Huffington Post stated, “ because [the media] love to get real granular with the whole “first to win” labels”. However, articles are constantly making the remark that she is a new mother, which implies that it is shocking that a woman who just had a child could accomplish anything significant. If a male athlete just became a father that would rarely be mentioned in articles however, because it is a woman athlete it is. While, yes, she just had a baby, it doesn't need to be the focus of every article and comment about her. Further, it's this ideology that women should stay home to take care of their new baby instead of training and working that is harmful.
4. When NBC Commentator mentioned how some people think that Katie Ledecky “swims like a man”.
He did go on to then state that she instead “ doesn’t swim like a man, she swims like Katie Ledecky!” Yes, he tried to correct the sexist remarks that many others had made, however, he shouldn’t have had to. This is similar to comparing Simone Biles to the men; it’s unnecessary.
5. NBC Announcer Dan Hicks “immediately focused the attention on (and gave all the credit to) Hosszu’s coach and husband Shane Tusup, saying he was “the man responsible” for her performance” right after she broke the world record.
This woman broke a WORLD RECORD, and they still find a way to accredit the man instead of the woman. While, yes, the coach is a significant part of any athlete's career, it’s worth noting that Hicks probably would not have done the same thing had Hosszu’s coach been a female and not her husband. Regardless, the fact that Hicks made sure to point out that there was a “man responsible” so quickly after a woman broke a world record is extremely sexist in itself.
6. When NBC announcers referred to the male cycling team as “the men’s cycling team” but the female cycling team was referred to as “girls cycling team”.
No one would ever state that it was a boys cycling team, so why girls? Why not women? A study on female and male television coverage found that often times women athletes are referred to as girls or young women, instead of just women. Further, they found that women sports have “gender…verbally, visually and graphically marked (e.g., “Women’s National Championship”) an average of nearly 60 times per game in women’s basketball, and never…marked in men’s games (which would be referred to, for instance, as “The National Championship Game”)”.
7. When Jim Watson stated that the US Gymnastic Team “might as well be standing around at the mall” while they were talking.
It is unknown what the team was talking about, however, probably was about the competition that they were competing in, which is not something typical people "standing around at the mall" talk about.
8. NBC’s chief marketing officer John Miller declared that women aren’t into sports, but they’re very into reality TV.
This perpetuates the ideology that women are into mindless television such as reality TV. This ideology that women aren’t into sports, is also shown in the way that teams market their products towards women, bedazzling them and making them pink. As a female who is an avid hockey fan, I’ve seen first hand how these comments and marketing strategies are extremely harmful. Whenever I state that I am a hockey fan of the Pittsburgh Penguins, it’s constantly followed by a male making a remark about how I must watch for the “cute players”, instead of for the actual sport itself. A study showed that while, yes, men do watch sports more frequently, women still do watch sports and makeup about 40% of the fan base for each league.
9. After Sweden’s Sarah Sjostrom broke her own world record in the 100-meter butterfly,she was continually asked by NBC anchors if she was going to “do the samba on Copacabana Beach,” which she apparently said she’d do if she won.
The fact that after this woman stated that she would not do it, announcers continued to try and get her to do it, is a form of coercion that is often found after woman say no to sex. While, I’m sure the announcers were not trying to be sexist, this ideology that after a woman says no, you can continue to ask and try to get her to change her mind, is harmful.
10. Rio promises the “sexiest ever” Olympic opening ceremony, with a source saying there will be “lots of nearly naked women doing the samba.
Why were there not “nearly naked” men dancing? Further, the fact that Rio saw a world competition as a way to show off “nearly naked women” is worrisome. Especially since, as Huffington Post stated, “a recent report revealed a woman is raped every 11 minutes in Brazil”, so maybe instead of focusing on making it a sexy Olympic opening ceremony they should be more focused on the crimes that are occurring in their own backyard.