Monday, February 15, 2010

Sexist & Racist Indoctrination in the Olympics

"It is true that women cannot compete with men in the Olympics, but women have other strengths," concedes Suzanne McCarthy.  And yet she concludes, "If women were really so weak, then some men would not have to waste so much bluster indoctrinating women into their own subordination."

Here's evidence of sexist indoctrinating around the 2010 Winter Olympics (from blogger Laura Leonard):
In Olympic tradition, 216 athletes will march behind our flag tonight as members of the U.S. Olympic team — 123 men, 93 women. But, according to Olympic Women and the Media, a new book by University of Alberta professor Pirkko Markula, the women will have received only 5 percent of pre-Olympics media coverage, and will receive only 25.2 percent during the Games, despite composing half of the team. When those female Olympians do receive attention, Markula notes, it tends to be for their appearance rather than their skill.

Case in point: American skier Lindsey Vonn. She’s competing in her third Olympics at age 25, is the current world champion in the Downhill Super-G, and a two-time World Cup season overall champion. She’s considered America’s best hope for gold in Vancouver. But when Sports Illustrated featured her on the cover of their Olympic Preview issue last week, Lindsey Vonn, world-class athlete, became Lindsey Vonn, Olympic sex symbol.

On the cover, Vonn wears her Team USA uniform, standard gear, and what at least resembles standard tuck form for her sport. The cover ignited a controversy over the sexualization of female athletes, though perhaps unfairly, since it’s nearly identical to the 1992 Olympic Preview cover, which featured male skier A. J. Kitt. But then Vonn appeared again in this week’s issue: the annual Swimsuit issue. Vonn, along with three other female Olympians, wears a bikini in the snow to promote her Olympic bid.

Sports Illustrated features women on its cover 4 percent of the time. For a weekly magazine, that means about 2 out of every 52 issues. And with the Swimsuit issue accounting for one each year, that doesn’t leave a lot of room for acknowledging female athletes.

It’s a problem, certainly, that we can’t seem to talk about female athletes without talking about sex.
Likewise, here's evidence of racist indoctrinating (as noticed by blogger Monica Roberts):
With the Vancouver Games starting today and it also being Black History month, I have pondered why we haven’t had as many excellent African-American winter Olympians as we consistently produce for the Summer Games....  African-Americans have a long and distinguished history in Summer Games competition dating back to the 1904 St. Louis Games. George Poage not only was the first African-American competitor, he took two bronze medals in the 200m the 400m hurdles.
From Jesse Owens to Flo Jo to the Dream Team, it’s a long and proud history of sterling athletic achievement. But when it comes to the Winter Games, we’ve been invisible.

No comments: