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Olympic Athletes Put Up With a Lot of Sexist Nonsense

Aug. 11, 2016

As if being a world-class athlete weren't hard enough

The Olympics are a time where we gather to celebrate human strength, triumph over adversity and cheer on the world’s best athletes. The games also shine an unfortunate spotlight on the sexism that female athletes face.

Whether it’s wonky comparisons to successful male athletes or denigrating comments about their appearance, the women of the Olympics are dealing with a lot of nonsense this year.

Some of the most egregious examples thus far:

  • Commentators and viewers criticized Gabby Douglas’ hair, a throwback to the racist comments on her hair that she faced in the London games in 2012.
  • Dutch cyclist Annemiek van Vleuten suffered a devastating crash during a race Sunday and was hospitalized. When she tweeted that she was ok, someone thought it would be helpful to mansplain cycling.
    olympic sexism cyclist
  • Fox News commentators last Wednesday had a whole segment about the merits of female Olympians wearing makeup. One of the two male commentators, Bo Dietl, said “I think when you see an athlete, why should you have to look at some chick’s zits or some guy’s zits on his face. Why not a little blush on the lips and cover those zits? I like to see the person who wins that gold medal go up there and look beautiful.”
  • NBC commentator Dan Hicks credited Hungarian swimmer Katinka Hosszu‘s victory in the 400-meter individual relay Sunday to her husband and coach Shane Tusup. “And there’s the man responsible,” Hicks said when the camera panned to Tusup.
  • The Chicago Tribune and other newspaper outlets referred to Corey Cogdell-Unrein, who took home the bronze in women’s trap shooting, as “Wife of a Bears’ Lineman.”
  • Sunday during a qualifying gymnastics event, an unidentified NBC commentator said that the American women’s gymnastics team, who were chatting on the sidelines, “might as well be in a mall.”
  • Mexican gymnast Alexa Moreno faced taunts over her muscular physique on social media. Thankfully, Moreno’s fans stuck up for her.

Let’s win the gold in cutting this business out, ok?