The Olympics!· August 15, 2016
It’s every armchair athlete’s favourite season. It’s a time when people around the world come together in the name of friendly sport competition, in a show of unabashed patriotism and stunning athleticism.
And the women this year– we’re having a moment. Fierce competitors and athletes in every sport imaginable. So far, almost almost every medal won by Canada has been won by women. Strong, capable, athletic women who are competing in the biggest athletic showcase in the world. You go, girl!
But another thing is also becoming incredibly apparent as the Olympics wear on: we have no idea how to talk about female athletes.
Now, you might be scratching your head right now, thinking “Hey, is there a difference?” We’ve had the same question for days, to be honest, but turns out there is.
When Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu set a new world record and won her first (of three) Olympic gold medals, NBC panned over to her husband/coach and said “There’s the guy responsible for turning Katinka Hosszu, his wife, into a whole different swimmer.” The Chicago Tribune tweeted out a photo of bronze medal trapshooter Corey Cogdell, identifying her as “wife of a Bear’s lineman.” Fox News decided to have two dudes debate makeup’s place in the Olympics, pulling gems like “Why not a little blush on the lips? And cover those zits. I like to see a person who wins a gold medal and go up there and look beautiful.” Canada isn’t immune to this either– CBC’s commentator, on what he thought was a dead mic during one of the swim relays, said “The little 14-year-old from China dropped the ball, baby. Too excited, went out like stink, died like a pig.”
While this is all unfortunate, is it at all surprising? Do recall, when Hillary Clinton made history as the first woman to secure a presidential nomination from a major US party, a whole bunch of newspapers decided “Hey, let’s print a photo of her husband!” Not to mention no candidate got more negative media coverage than Clinton, a whopping 84%. No male candidate came close. Donald Trump, the Republican presidential nominee and your weekly source of bizarrely offensive statements, only came in at 43%.
OK but, really? Clearly, we have no idea how to talk about women.
We’re a firm that believes in the power of women, because a lot of us are women. Women are integral to our day-to-day, and we’re proud of it.
In the fallout of all the recent Olympic gaffes, many think-pieces and ‘handy guides’ have popped up trying to frame how we should be talking about female athletes and why sexism is alive and well. And many of these pieces make very valid points about the way things are. But that’s beside the point — why are we still having to talk about this in the first place?
It’s 2016, and women everywhere are pushing boundaries, be it in politics, sport, or what have you. And it matters that we’re seeing women breaking ceilings everywhere, because it lifts other women up too. It shows the world that women can. It reminds us all that women are capable of our own achievements, that we can and we do from our own effort and our own abilities.
So here’s our cri de coeur, our plea to everyone that has a voice and is willing to speak up: it’s time we talked about women not like women, but like people. Like fulfillers of their own destinies and fuellers of their own passions. Because enough is enough, friends. It’s been 88 years in Canada since we decided women are people too. Isn’t it time we were treated as such?