In case you missed the memo, it's 2016. Hillary Clinton is running to be the first female president of the United States. Kim Kardashian graced the cover of Forbes magazine. Beyoncé released Lemonade, and Michelle Obama is the de facto queen of everything. Yet, somehow, the Olympics roll around, and the world is still flooded with sexism.
Let's be clear, the female athletes in Rio are there because they are, simply, the best at what they do. That's all that needs to be celebrated. Instead, however, they have been illogically compared to men, identified by their relationships and, at times, flat-out body-shamed. And while there has been a ton of backlash to this blatant sexism, it doesn't erase the fact that these women's achievements are still being downplayed and sexualized, even as they're winning Olympic medals. To get a better idea of the nonsense that's been occurring, here are 14 sexist moments from this year's games:1. Katinka Hosszú's husband getting the credit for her win.
Hungarian swimmer Katinka Hosszú crushed the world record and won gold in the 400-meter individual medley Saturday, but one NBC commentator said her husband and coach was "the person responsible for her performance," leading to a wave of unhappy viewers.
Incredibly cringeworthy hearing the @NBCOlympics announcer give Hosszu's husband the credit for her success as a world-class swimmer.— Danny Archer Dallas (@dannyadallas) August 7, 2016
Hearing these commentators give all the credit for Hosszu's win to her husband like pic.twitter.com/Lpfq09R8B2— Lorna O'Neill (@LornaONeill14) August 7, 2016
2. And people are constantly comparing Team USA superstar Katie Ledecky to men.
OK, so Hosszú (swimmer) shatters a world record by 2 seconds, and NBC's broadcaster gives the credit to her husband and coach. WTF? #Sexism— Tim Gibson (@timgibson) August 7, 2016
It's obvious that Katie Ledecky is a shark/mermaid hybrid who can do no wrong in the pool. And clearly the only way to highlight her incredible athleticism is to compare her to a man.
In a Sports Illustrated profile on Ledecky, Ryan Lochte is quoted as saying: "She swims like a guy. Her stroke, her mentality: She's so strong in the water. I've never seen a female swimmer like that. She gets faster every time she gets in, and her times are becoming good for a guy. She's beating me now, and I'm, like, 'What is going on?'"
Lochte also told USA Today, "This girl is doing respectable times for guys," and Olympic medalist Connor Jaeger told the Washington Post, "Her stroke is like a man's stroke. I mean that in a positive way. She swims like a man."
I understand wanting to put Ledecky's talent into context, and she does have a stroke modeled on Michael Phelps'. But that doesn't mean she swims "like a man" or that her times are even "good for a guy." It just means she can keep up with basically ~anyone~ and that she's beyond talented.
As always, take note of Simone Biles, who explained succinctly following her gold medal win in the gymnastics all-around competition that she is "not the next Usain Bolt or Michael Phelps ... I'm the first Simone Biles."3. Corey Cogdell-Unrein being referred to as "wife of a Bears lineman."
Corey Cogdell-Unrein, a three-time Olympic athlete, won bronze in women's trap shooting, only to have the Chicago Tribune write this:
Since then, the Chicago Tribune tweeted out an apology, saying Cogdell-Unrein is "awesome on her own." But it still doesn't change the fact that the paper's first instinct was to highlight this woman's husband instead of, hm, her Olympic medal.
When introducing a segment on Fox's Sports Court about whether Olympic athletes should wear makeup, host Tamara Holder said:
We all know that old adage, sex sells. Well now female Olympians are sexing it up more than ever by wearing makeup during their competitions. Some say this is about empowerment. Well, really? Do women who are elite athletes need to wear makeup to feel stronger or is it simply a fashion statement like when LeBron James wears funny hats?
Panelists Bo Dietl and Mark Simone (who, by the way, don't have any makeup expertise) then began debating why some female athletes enjoy wearing makeup while competing and how, according to Dietl, makeup "just enhances the beauty of that athlete." BOY, BYE.5. And British viewers being outraged by commentator Helen Skelton's dress.
Helen Skelton, a presenter for the BBC Olympic's coverage, was the subject of of sexist tweets and comments when she appeared on television wearing — god forbid — a minidress:
Helen Skelton should get a gold medal for that dress oh my ???? #bbcolympics— Dj Eoin Healy (@djeoinhealy) August 7, 2016
Instead of just focusing on her (um, amazing) fashion choices, let's remember Skelton is also a marathon runner and the first woman to paddle the length of the Amazon river. Haters to the left, pls. Oh, and let's also remember that she was providing commentary for the swimming, which meant there was much more flesh on display right behind her.6. Meanwhile, here's a BBC commentator calling the women's judo final a "catfight."
One of the best moments of the games had to be when Majlinda Kelmendi competed in the women's judo final and won Kosovo its first-ever gold medal. But it wasn't quite as fun when a BBC commentator described the event as a "catfight."
@BBC4tonight totally disgraceful that your judo coverage used the words "catfight" about women's judo final.These are Olympians— Cllr Jane Palmer (@CllrJanePalmer) August 7, 2016
7. NBC's executives explaining why the opening ceremony wasn't streamed live.
did the commentator really just call this womens judo match a 'catfight' im going to bury myself— ? (@topgirI) August 7, 2016
When asked about the decision to not live-stream the opening ceremonies, NBC Olympics chief marketing officer John Miller, told Philly.com, "The people who watch the Olympics are not particularly sports fans. More women watch the Games than men, and for the women, they're less interested in the result and more interested in the journey. It's sort of like the ultimate reality show and mini-series wrapped into one."
So, women only enjoy reality shows and don't really care about the Olympics' results and what even are sports, right???! Notably Miller has yet to explain why much of the network's content since, even for the events he no doubt imagines giddy women are watching, has also sucked.8. Everyone focusing on the fact that Dana Vollmer just had a child.
It's hard not to be amazed by Dana Vollmer, a Team USA swimmer who won a bronze in the 100-meter butterfly and silver in the 4x100-meter free relay just 17 months after giving birth to her son. Training for the Olympics is no small task, and doing it all with a newborn? So not casual. (Maybe that's why she calls herself "Momma on a Mission.")
But is it right to constantly refer to this elite athlete in terms of her new motherhood? She's featured in headlines that say "New mom Dana Vollmer wins bronze in women's 100 fly," and"Dana Vollmer Wins Bronze Medal 17 Months After Giving Birth." It's great to celebrate mamas, but let's also remember that Vollmer was just as incredible before she had a child.9. And everyone focusing on this Mexican gymnast's body.
Alexa Moreno, a 22-year-old Mexican gymnast, was body-shamed on Twitter after competing in the artistic gymnastics qualifications, according to Mashable.
Even though she's a straight-up boss, as you can see in the video above, people were still quick to post rude comments about her body. Many of the tweets have since been deleted, but it's still not OK that after intense training and a great performance, this athlete would be reduced to something as trivial as her weight.
10. When a commentator said the Final Five looked like they were at the mall.
On Sunday, Simone Biles completed her amazing balance beam routine (and got a STANDING OVATION) and then joined her team on the sidelines to, most likely, celebrate and talk about how badass they all are. But as the team was waiting for Biles's score to be posted, one commentator said, "They might as well be standing in the middle of a mall."
Yeah, sure, if malls were Olympic stadiums and Biles hadn't just completed a gravity-defying, awe-inducing balance beam routine! While the comment was intended to be about how relaxed the Final Five looked, Twitter was not pleased:
When that NBC reporter said our GOLD U.S. Women's Gymnastic team "might as well be standing in the middle of a mall" pic.twitter.com/rok5Nlslb2— Heather Hatfield (@HeatherHatfield) August 12, 2016
11. Also, just the fact that sexist gymnastics dress codes STILL EXIST.
No, NBC anchor, those female gymnasts do not look like "they might as well be standing in the middle of a mall." They are at the Olympics. ????— Natalie DiBlasio (@ndiblasio) August 7, 2016
This isn't limited to the Rio Olympics, but come on. How are the current gymnastics dress codes still OK? Olympic gold medalist Nastia Liukin told People that gymnasts get points deducted if they pick a wedgie or if their bra strap is out. Plus, the leotards must be "of elegant design." I'm all for Olympians looking professional. But who cares if their bra straps show or if their leotards are elegant? The patriarchy, that's who.
After Andy Murray won another Olympic gold medal in tennis, BBC presenter John Inverdale said, "You're the first person to ever win two Olympic tennis gold medals, that's an extraordinary feat, isn't it?"
Murray, aka the Olympics' woke bae, replied by saying, "Well to defend the singles title, I think Venus and Serena have won about four each … it's obviously not an easy thing to do, and I had to fight unbelievably hard to get it tonight as well."
Twitter went off on Inverdale's sexism and praised Murray for his response:
John Inverdale: how does it feel Andy Murray to be the first person to win two Olympic gold medals in tennis?— Mitchell Travis (@DrMitchTravis) August 15, 2016
Unless women are people obvs
BBC's John Inverdale: “You’re the first person to win two gold medals.”— Alex Andreou (@sturdyAlex) August 15, 2016
Andy Murray: “Venus and Serena have won four each.” #FeelTheBurn
This headline is a metaphor for basically the entire world. pic.twitter.com/5WpQa04N0o— Nancy Leong (@nancyleong) August 14, 2016
@CBCOlympics But to imply a proposal is, especially for a woman athlete, "better" than a medal--just no.— Truly S. (@hotincleveland) August 14, 2016
@CBCOlympics No. A proposal is not "better" than a medal. Both are wonderful (assuming you want to marry the person).— Truly S. (@hotincleveland) August 14, 2016