Feminist Friday: We Need To Talk About Rio

This week the world has marveled at the Rio Olympics, where incredibly talented olympians compete to be the best in the world at their sport. After blood, sweat and tears winning bronze, silver, or the all important gold should earn the utmost respect, but alas there has been rampant sexism in the way in which the games have been reported, in respect to both female and male athletes. For an event that is viewed by the entire world, it’s alarming at the extent of the sexism we have been seeing.

Here are just some of the issues in reporting we’ve seen.

  • Women referred to as ‘girls’ and ‘girls teams’.
  • The chief of NBC’s Marketing delcaring that women watch the Olympics for the ‘reality tv’ aspect, not the sport.
  • Recurrent scrutiny of female athletes bodies, particularly in gymnastics.
  • When a woman wins, she’s described as competing ‘like a man’
  •  Female presenters having complaints put against them, not for their skills in presenting, but due to the length of their skirts.
  • Bronze medallist Corey Cogdell being described as the ‘Wife of a Bears’ Lineman’ instead of olympic athlete.
  • Recurrent focus on female athletes as mothers.
  • Cosmopolitan magazine’s ‘bulge’ articles, focusing only on the looks of men, rather than their ability.
  • Katinka Hossu’s world record being put down to the success of her husband who was deemed ‘responsible’ for her success.
  • The women’s judo final being compared to a cat fight.
  • Katie Ledecky and Simone Biles constantly being compared to male athletes.

I couldn’t write Feminist Friday’s without talking about such a major event and the issues surrounding it. The Olympics are celebrated throughout the world and yet, in mainstream media, women are still classified as being inferior to men. On the flip side the fact that women’s magazines are merely focusing on the size of a man’s bulge is not ok. Why are we focusing on these petty and superficial things instead of people’s talent? While some may think there’s aren’t big issues, it’s the way we consume media that makes them a big deal. Little girls will aspire to be like these olympians, do we want them to think that no matter how talented, they will always be compared to a man? Do we want little boys to be self conscious about how their bodies look and nothing else (because we know women are faced with this on a larger scale)? Let’s actually focus on the talent and the sport and not let these terrible and often talentless commentators and journalists take away from their glory with pathetic comments.