It truly seems as though sexism in athletics will never fade. I acknowledge that gender equality in sports has progressed tremendously throughout history, however there has been several occurrences thus far at the Rio Olympic summer games that prompt me to question as to whether or not gender equality will ever prevail in athletics.
According to an article by Sarah Beauchamp on thehuffingtonpost.com, there has already been numerous prominent displays of sexism towards female athletes in the Rio summer games. Beauchamp provides examples of all scenarios, and lists them as follows:
(1) After a nearly perfect bar performance from USA female gymnast Simone Biles, NBC commentator Jim Watson stated: “I think she might even go higher than some of the men.” A rather blatant discriminatory statement towards Biles and her gender identity, in my own opinion.
(2) The Chicago Tribune categorized two-time bronze medalist Olympian Corey Cogdell as simply the wife of an NFL player as opposed to acknowledging her significant athletic accomplishments.
(3) An NBC commentator’s statement about US Olympic golf medalist Dana Vollmer and her one-year-old child: “She’ll be the first woman to win a medal after having a baby.” I fail to see how associating an athlete with her recent pregnancy is applicable to her competitive sport, but sexism usually does not make sense.
(4) NBC commentator Rowdy Gaines and his reference to nineteen-year-old Katie Ledecky after breaking the world record in the 400 meter freestyle: “Some people say she swims like a man.”
(5) NBC commentator Dan Hicks and his focus on the coach of Hungarian Katinka Hosszu after breaking the world record in the 400 meter individual medley, his statement addressing how Hosszu’s male coach is the man responsible for her accomplishments.
(6) An NBC announcer’s reference to the “men’s” cycling team and also the “girls” cycling team. Apparently men are men in the Olympics, but women are still recognized as girls.
(7) Jim Watson’s statement about the conversation occurring between the US women’s gymnastics team in-between competitions: “They might as well be standing around at the mall.”
(8) NBC’s John Miller exclaiming that women are not interested in sports, but are instead interested in reality television: “The people who watch the Olympics are not particularly sports fans. More women watch the games than men, and for the women, they’re 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.”
(9) Rio’s advertisement of having the “sexiest ever” Olympic opening ceremony, and boasting of “lots of naked women doing the samba.” Rio went even further in their sexualization of women when they stated: “This is Brazil, after all, where the female body is celebrated like no other place on Earth.” An interesting claim made by Rio, considering a recent report unveiled that a woman is raped every eleven minutes in Brazil.
The examples discussed by Beauchamp are certainly alarming, and I hope enough awareness is generated in regards to the sexism occurring in the Rio summer games in order to display the severity of gender inequality to any person who doubts it.