Posted by: kalliwilson11 | February 20, 2014

Women Athletes in the Olympics

So I found this article last night and I was excited to read it because of the headline “10 Ladies Who Are Seriously

Kicking Ass in Sochi”.

—> Article: http://www.cosmopolitan.com/celebrity/exclusive/lady-olympians-at-sochi

From the title, it looked to be a showcase of women who have made history as Olympians.  For the most part I wasn’t disappointed because they showed how each woman contributed to their sports and showed the power and skill of women, however throughout the article, splashes of gendered comments can be found and some of them are quite distasteful.  In Kellerman and Rhode, there was a particularly powerful quote that women are “routinely dogged by gender-specific coverage that focuses on their looks, fashion sense, familial relationships, and other feminizing details that have nothing to do with their expertise” Although this particular article does highlight the accomplishments of these women, there are aspects of the article which, rather than highlight their Olympic accomplishments choose to focus on other aspects of their lives as women.

The first quote immediately separates men and women saying “who needs Shaun White when you’ve got Jamie Anderson”

 

The article goes on to examine 10 female Olympians and their mark on history, but I couldn’t help not notice that sprinkled throughout, there were comments like “you can thank her for inspiring all of your wildest, sports-themed sex dreams” when referencing Jamie Anderson.  This reminded me of the documentary Missrepresented, how so many women are sexualized and apparently world class athletes are no exception.

Another problem I had with the article came when they were talking about Kelly Clark winning bronze, the brought in her age stating that since she is currently 30 years “she is pretty much a geriatric and still medaling in her sport”.

Another comment saying that “Meryl totally looks like Jasmine when she wears her Scheherazade costume” shows how much people are more focused on what women wear than what these women have accomplished

These statements are less focused on their accomplishments and not empowering to young girls and women wanting to pursue a career as a professional athlete.

Women athletes also face the double bind of being expected to fit into the feminine role and not be “too unfeminine” but at the same time be expected to compete at a high level.  It’s a shame that we have these issues being brought up and overshadowing the accomplishments of these women.

 

 

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Responses

  1. This amazes me. I find it interesting how documentaries like Missrepresentation are being created, yet this sexism within the more masculine realms still exists. Firstly, the comments made were completely unnecessary and unrelated to the topic. The goal of the article was to demonstrate how far women have come within Olympic sports. But somehow, society always find a way to jeer at the female population. One point that was brought up in Missrepresentation is the fact that these things are so common to us, we are unconsciously influenced by the elements of every-day life in our society.
    A large portion of the sexism that happens in media is because we accept it. Women who are news reporters have to be conscious of their clothes as if they are fashionistas. Political women like Hilary Clinton and Sarah Palin must come off as sweet, yet strong, but not too sweet to be considered a “ditz” and not too strong to be considered a “bitch.” How will these constant influences ever end until we say enough is enough? This demeaning and derogatory terminology and jeers at the women population can no longer be allowed.
    I remember a few years ago when people would use the word “gay” to describe something as bad. The homosexual community stepped up and said “That’s not okay.” If we as females have a problem with how we are referred to in the media, we must stop with just saying it’s not okay, we must advocate for change.

  2. I love that you found an article about something that is so currently prominent in everyone’s lives (the winter olympics) relating to a topic that we’re currently covering in class! It is so sad to see that even on a magazine geared at women they falls into the trap of only commenting on the physical appearance, age, etc of a women rather than her accomplishments. These women are making huge advancements in successfully maneuvering through the labyrinth and are successfully competing and winning in more “masculine” sports, yet are still only being noticed for their appearance and personal lives. It is upsetting…but I’m proud of these women for not letting the comments of the media hinder them.

  3. Articles like these make me feel like we sometimes take 1 step forward, only to take 2 steps back. It’s almost as if society is telling us that we can’t expect women to be athletic or good at sports, so when women actually do showcase these talents, the media has to find some way to over-feminize them to make them seem more “womanly.” This article also reminds me of some ice skating highlight reels from the Olympics where the commentators were commenting more on the outfits the skaters chose to wore more than their actual talent. It’s a shame that a woman can’t just be focused on for her skills and talents anymore because now looks and femininity always have to play some type of role. I don’t think this problem is solely done with women though. I think there are some male athletes who have had more media attention on their looks and sex appeal than actual talent too, such as David Beckham or Michael Phelps for example. David Beckham is more known for his Calvin Klein underwear commercials now than his actual soccer playing. So, I think it’s also important to see that this issue spans both genders. However, I do think that more attention is payed to outside forces beyond their athleticism when it comes to women. I think this does a disservice to the amazing skills and talents that they possess because then people get too caught up in the material aspects of who they are.

  4. I thought your post was really interesting. It made me think of the Missrepresentation documentary. It made me think about how when we see strong and powerful women on screen, it comes from their sexuality or physical image. We are comfortable viewing strong women in that context, but we don’t often see in film strong women in a career the way men are portrayed. This made me think of the female athletes. Clearly they are very strong and powerful women. The media often sexualizes them or simply focuses on their physical image. The media puts them into a box that says you can be powerful, but only by sexualizing your appearance. The media and maybe society is comfortable with these women being powerful, but only physically. That is really unfortunate. These women are so strong in the training that they have gone through to get this far in their career. That is the strength or power we should be focusing on. I also think the media fails to accept the strength of these women separate from their beauty. Often times, the women that we hear most about at the games are the prettiest. We don’t here anything about the women just being strong, or just working hard. It is always how pretty they are or something about their physical appearance. We need to start recognizing these women for their amazing skills and achievements, and not focus on what they are wearing or what they look like.

  5. I usually see articles written about athletes have some comments talking about their physical appearance, not just with female athletes but also with male athletes. Athletes are usually prone to be sexualized because they are in top fit condition, which is what athleticism calls for when you want to be the best at something. I’m not defending the article, I just wanted to make the point that it is not only female athletes that are sexualized. I do wish sports articles on women would not make comparisons between female and male athletes in the same sport, like when it says“who needs Shaun White when you’ve got Jamie Anderson.” That says to me that she is the female version of Shaun White because they made the connection. Male and female athletes need to be recognized as separate athletes. Women athletes are just athletes as men are.


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