Women Receive Sexist Remarks Instead of Credit in Coverage of the 2016 Olympics

The Olympic Games only come once every two years -- so, undoubtedly, fans around the world are thrilled to see the best of the best compete for the gold and cheer on their favorite competitors from their respective countries. But as the 2016 Rio Olympics continue on, there is one thing that fans are definitely not loving about this year's games. And that would be the rampant amount of sexism pervasive in the media.


Yes, this is in 2016. Society should be beyond the diminishing of women's triumphs by men -- yet a handful of media personnel clearly haven't gotten the memo. The opening ceremony kicked off the games only four days ago ... and, while the Olympic Committee is making strides with 45 percent of the athletes being female (which happens to be the most female representation that the games have seen to date), the media is not.

In that short span of time, there have been a number of incidents in which sexism reared its ugly head. Some are even calling this the most sexist Olympics ever, and I can't help but agree that with more female competitors, there are even more incidents of sexism. These women's talents are being discredited left and right with many commentators reducing these athletes to wives and girls instead of acknowledging them for what they are: champions.

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Of course, the idea that female athletes are talked about differently than their male counterparts isn't a new concept. The UK's Cambridge University Press conducted a study that was released "analyzing over 160 million words" in various formats (newspapers, blogs, academic papers, and social media) and found that "men are three times more likely than women to be mentioned in a sporting context, while women are disproportionately described in relation to their marital status, age or appearance."

And unfortunately, this year's Olympics further validate these findings. One of the most blatant examples is the Chicago Tribune's article on Corey Cogdell-Unrein, a three-time Olympian on the shooting team who took home the bronze in women's trap shooting this past weekend. The paper has come under fire (rightly so) because the article basically overshadowed her victory with details about her marital status to the Bears lineman Mitch Unrein. 

It all started with the headline which reads, "Corey Cogdell, wife of Bears lineman Mitch Unrein, wins bronze in Rio" -- and it just continued from there. The article details her husband's schedule with the Bears (because, of course, he had to miss his wife's Olympic moment for pre-season training), and includes a tweet the athlete sent to her husband, a recap of the couple's relationship, and his comments about how "proficient" he is in shooting but nowhere near the Olympic level of his wife.


Am I wrong, or is she is not the one who took home her second Olympic medal? Her accomplishments shouldn't be outshined by her famous husband.

And in the case of the Hungarian swimmer Katinka Hosszu, NBC's Dan Hicks gave credit to her husband and coach, Shane Tusup, for the athlete's taking home of the gold medal as well as her breaking of the world record in the 400-meter individual medley.

The commentator called Tusup "the person responsible for her performance." Yes, her husband was her coach, and he trained and cheered her on (vigorously!). But the swimmer (whose nickname is the "Iron Lady") is the one who swam those laps in the pool and practiced her heart out for the competition. And this person wants to give credit to her husband?

That's not okay in my book!

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These two women may be wives, but they are also Olympic athletes who worked hard to not just compete among the best -- but to win. Let them live and enjoy this moment as individuals.

But reducing women's statuses to wives wasn't enough. Various "girl" stereotypes were also used in commentary of the games.

Even just standing around before the competition warranted an unnecessary comment about the ladies on the US gymnastics team. "They might as well be standing around at the mall," said anchor Jim Watson. That was also the night that these female gymnasts dominated the competition. Looks like they were ready for a little more than shopping if you ask me. 

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Majlinda Kelmendi, a judo competitor from Kosovo, also knows a thing or two about being stereotyped. She won the gold in the 52-kilogram judo division final, which happened to be the first Olympic medal that Kosovo has ever acquired, and according to Huffington Post, a BBC commentator called her match a "catfight."

Now that is plain disrespectful. 

But these are only a few examples. There's plenty of time for more disparaging remarks to be made, but I'm hoping that that's not the case. There's been enough.

It all goes back to equality of the sexes at home and at work or in sports. Why does gender have to be a factor in commentary at all? Male athletes aren't having their wins credited to their wives, so why should women have theirs attributed to their husbands? Are the male atheletes' wives the subject of articles when they win gold metals? Men aren't being called boys and their sports aren't being described in juvenile terms.

Please. Just. Stop.

Let's all acknowledge that these women are Olympians, athletes, and champions who have earned a place in history due to their own merit. No sexist comments required. 


Image via bikeriderlondon/Shutterstock

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