By Sarah Copeland
Hello! It’s been a while since my last blog post, but for good reason! This past summer I have been very busy at my very first internship.I had a great experience and learned so much. Now I’m back in classes and writing more blogs for a Race, Gender and the Media course I’m currently taking.
Over these past few weeks, we have discussed a series of difficult topics and addressed issues we see in the media and throughout society. WARNING: some topics are incredibly difficult to discuss and I will only be sharing my personal opinion on these matters. I completely understand if those reading this will disagree. I’m only a student, and this is only my opinion.
This first blog will be about the representation of women.
Women have come a long way since the 1950s. Instead of being housewives, women are now front and center in the business world and politics. Roles for women have extended. And yet, there are still ways that women are held back through real life limitations as well as representations in the media. Here are some examples of clear sexism in our society.
The Rio Olympics ended months ago, however, we can still use the games to represent the “gold ceiling” that women are subject to when it comes to athletic ability. It’s hard to find women competing at the same level as men in several sports. Tennis seems to be the big exception to that, but there is still sexism present in that sport which I will discuss shortly. A Wall Street Journal article (linked above) describes how women cannot compete in certain events because they are not men. The best example is Katie Ledecky, the gold medalist swimmer.
A Wall Street Journal article (linked above) describes how women cannot compete in certain events because they are not men. The best example is Katie Ledecky, the gold medalist swimmer. Though Ledecky is faster than other swimmers in the 1500-meter swim, she is not allowed to race in that event since women are not included in that race. The longest race for women is 800 meters while men can race the 1500 meters. Sports, including the Olympics, should not be divided by sex, it should be divided by ability.
Another swimmer, Katinka Hosszu, was also misrepresented and outshined by her husband/coach. Hosszu made monumental accomplishments during the Rio Olympics. She set world records and won several gold medals. However, each of her victories was credited to her husband/coach when reported in the media. This Odyssey article makes strong points about how women in sports are clearly undervalued while men are simply given full credit. When compared, reporting of sports coverage for men is simply that, coverage. However, reports on women focus on their “sexuality instead of their skill.” Why does it matter what makeup a female athlete is wearing when a male athlete is only asked about his career?
Like I said above, tennis is not excluded from this sexist representation. BBC interviewer, John Inverdale provides multiple examples of how every sport can be sexist. After Andy Murray won a gold medal for the second time in a row in men’s singles, Inverdale congratulates him. Inverdale is quoted as saying: “You’re the first person ever to win two Olympic tennis gold medals. That’s an extraordinary feat, isn’t it?” But Murray isn’t actually the first, and Murray points out the interviewer’s flaw. Actually, the Williams sisters (*female athletes) have won four gold medals. But this interviewer didn’t care to think about the accomplishments of women.
There are endless examples of women misrepresentation, especially throughout the Olympics. I only mentioned a couple of examples, though there are plenty more. Sexism is huge in the media and not only toward women. The LGBTQ community (and even men, really) are also heavily misrepresented at times. Why is gender so important when it comes to reporting information? Coverage shouldn’t be sexist, it should be factual and informative.
Helliker, K., & Futterman, M. (2016, August 05). At the Rio Olympics, Women Athletes Bump Against a Gold Ceiling. Retrieved October 03, 2016, from http://www.wsj.com/articles/at-the-rio-olympics-women-athletes-bump-against-a-gold-ceiling-1470425132
Moxley, C. (2016, August 8). Misrepresentation of Olympic Proportions. Retrieved October 3, 2016, from https://www.theodysseyonline.com/misrepresentation-olympic-proportions
WATCH: Andy Murray Reminds Interviewer That Women Win Gold, Too. (2016, August 15). Retrieved October 03, 2016, from http://www.npr.org/sections/thetorch/2016/08/15/490056480/watch-andy-murray-reminds-interviewer-that-women-win-gold-too