Before the Olympics started, it was noted that around 45 percent of the athletes are women. A good percentage for the prestigious event where male-dominated sports are normally at the forefront. However, as the media would suggest, the patriarchal thinking is still very present.
As The Cut would point out, some media outfits for the last six days since the Olympics started have been quite unfair with female athletes. For example, when USA’s Corey Cogdell-Unrein won a bronze medal in trap shooting, the Chicago Tribune dubbed her as “Wife of a Bears’ lineman.”
— Chicago Tribune (@chicagotribune) August 7, 2016
Another faux pas would come from the Daily Mail after referring to swimmer Katie Ledecky from USA as “the female Michael Phelps” after beating her own world record in 400-meter freestyle and won gold for it. Some comments even suggest that “she swims like a man.”
— Chris (@Chris_1791) August 8, 2016
“She swims like a man”
Um excuse me? She swims like an incredibly talented FEMALE athlete who has spent all her 19 years training for this
— courtney priebe (@cpriebae) August 8, 2016
And probably the one of the biggest wrongs committed would be NBC’s live commentary during Hungarian swimmer Katinka Hosszú gold medal win in 400-meter individual medley, where her win was attributed to her husband-slash-coach.
“There’s the man responsible for turning his wife into an entirely new swimmer…” REALLY, NBC?
— Charlotte Wilder (@TheWilderThings) August 7, 2016
There is a skewed perception when it comes to women in sports. A recent study from the Cambridge University Press even points out that men are the default players in sports, and are three times more likely to be discussed than women. Meanwhile, women are said to be connected to discussions about age, pregnancy, and marital status. So hey, it’s no surprise why some media outlets, knowingly or not, undermine female athletes when they’ve accomplished something.
But that doesn’t mean that this should be considered normal―it’s absolutely sexist to accept this as normal.
Both men and women probably train hard every day to compete in the Olympic stage. Having to compare women to men, and vice-versa, and attributing their success to their more well-known partner is completely unnecessary.
People, most especially the media, need to realize that women can stand on their own without connecting their names to any man. Katie is not “the female Phelps”―she’s a talented swimmer who just wowed everyone with her new record. Corey is not just a lineman’s wife that you mention in passing in an article supposedly about her win. Lastly, Katinka won because of her talent in swimming and not because she’s married to her coach.
If we’re all vying for equality and feminism everywhere, then maybe we need some work in implementing that in the sports category.
Art by Dorothy Guya