Sexism at the Olympics?

Posted in Sexual Harassment on August 22, 2016

Most of us are painfully aware that sexism has a long history in this country. We’d like to believe that since the 19th Amendment and the 1964 Civil Rights Act and now the first ever female presidential candidate, that things are looking up for women.

But the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games have shown us quite a different picture.

This year the world’s most athletically accomplished men and women came together to inspire the world. We watched in awe as records were broken. We cheered heartily for our nation and for the competitors. But amidst all of this sexism reared its ugly head.

The announcers, for example, made sexist, dismissive and downright erroneous comments. For example, when Hungarian swimmer Katinka Hosszu broke a world record the commentator dismissed her achievement by stating , “and there’s the man responsible,” meaning somehow her husband was the person who won her the gold.

Tennis star Andy Murray was not, as the commentator said, “The first person ever to win two Olympic tennis gold medals.” Murray rightly responded, “Venus and Serena (Williams) have won four each.”

Corey Cogdell-Unrein competed three times for shooting and won the bronze. But the newspaper headlines described her first as the “wife of Bears lineman” as if that were her greatest accomplishment.

There were other blatant sexist remarks including the commentator describing female gymnasts as “Might have been standing around at the mall” and a female judo final as a “catfight.”

It is sad to say but the fight for equal rights and equal treatment is not over, not in the workplace, and not at the Games.

In fact, it could be said that even the Olympic Games are skewed as there are 161 events for men and only 136 events for women.

By acknowledging sexism- wherever it happens- we take the first step to getting rid of it.