The sexist media coverage of the Olympics has been so outstanding this year, it could stand alone as its own discipline. So why not give it the full and undivided attention it deserves and treat it as its own sport?
Whether it’s Adam Kreek at the CBC talking about Canadian tennis player Eugenie Bouchard as not being a “competitor” because she posts selfies with toothpaste, or NBC’s Dan Hicks attributing Hungary’s Katinka Hosszú’s world-record shattering to her husband, there has been no shortage of cringe-worthy sexist commentary during the 2016 Rio Olympics. And let’s not forget the riveting debates about whether Australian hurdler Michelle Jenneke got breast implants, racially charged debates about Gabby Douglas’s hair, and energetic yet slightly Islamophobic news segments exoticizing hijab.
But structural sexism really takes a village — perhaps an Olympic village. A recent study that “looked at over 160 million words within the domain of sport” demonstrated “higher levels of infantilizing or traditionalist language for women in sport, who are more likely to be referred to as ‘girls’ than men are called ‘boys.” So if it’s any consolation, the horrifying coverage of female athletes at this year’s Olympic Games is no exception.
But then again, what do we expect when 90 percent of sports journalists are white and the same proportion are male. Maybe the amount of backlash against the media during the Olympics is the incentive some newsrooms need to let women run the show in the future. It’s not like women aren’t watching.