Oh you thought I was referring to their awesome athletic abilities? Pssh, the Olympics are obviously all about
celebrating the athleticism, determination, and hard work gazing at the bodies of athletes from around the world, especially the women.
Are you woman enough?
Remember Caster Semenya, the woman who started a controversy following her 2009 World Championship victory and caused the IAAF to further promote their biological sex essentialism campaign? Maybe you don’t. Caster Semenya is a South African runner that was just too good… so people decided to question if she was a man.
(Since she has been deemed “female enough” to compete, she has returned to the sport with a more “feminine” makeover.) Due to this ridiculous controversy, athletes competing in “women’s sports” will now undergo testing to assure their testosterone levels are below a designated threshold. If the tests prove that an individual’s testosterone levels are “too high,” the athlete will have to undergo hormone treatment before competing. You may be surprised to learn that testosterone levels can be impacted by exercise. So the IAAF is essentially policing how hard a female athlete can exercise and still be deemed female enough to compete in “women’s sports.” Perhaps you are wondering if men undergo the same tests to make sure they are not too feminine/without “proper testosterone levels” to compete fairly in “men’s sports.” Nope, there is no similar rule unless you consider steroid testing. That’s right, steroids (which include those to increase testosterone) are banned by the IAAF. Ahh hypocrisy, we meet again. Essentially, if you identify as female and do not meet an athletic organization’s gender binary, you must “fix it” to compete. They are both banning testosterone and policing it all while ignoring their transphopia.
Fat Athlete Rhetoric
Australian swimmer Leisel Jones is arguably one of the best female bresaststrokers ever. She made her first Olympic appearance at the age of 14 and now is competing in her 4th Olympic games. Twelve years after her first Olympics, Jones has been to more Olympics than any other Australian woman. Oh and she has 3 gold, 4 silver, and 1 bronze medal. Not bad for a fatty. Of all the possible things the media could talk highlight about Jones, Melbourne’s Herald Sun published “then and now” articles suggesting that she is now fat.
Before the Olympics started or before Jones competed in the Games, non-athletic journalists were suggesting that she was not prepared for the competition because she seemed chubby to them. You know, because the public who sits on their couches watching her swim is an authority on swimmers’ fitness. Let’s completely disregard the fact Jones qualified to compete or trains, being female automatically makes her body intended for public consumption — to be enjoyed or scrutinized according to the rules of modern femininity. Ignoring her talent, athleticism, or perseverance, Jones is ridiculed for not being skinny and beautiful.. oh and then we will mention she is an Olympian. Meanwhile, I am still waiting for a headline to discuss how a male athlete is too bulky or skinny or ugly to compete.
Hair is important in Gymnastics
As you have probably heard, Gabby Douglas is the first African American woman to win a gold medal in women’s all-around gymnastics. She seems to be inspiring a nation, even our President. Yet, in the glory of her win, people were criticizing her hair rather than exclaiming at her talent or hard work. Didn’t you know that gymnastics is now scoring hair? Haters of Gabby Douglas’s hair has obviously never seen mine. I am sure when she appears on the Wheaties box her hair will be professional done for the camera so not to ruin your breakfast.
As Jezebel states, “The point is that hair — black hair, especially — remains a hot-button issue. Hair is political, laden with subtext and meaning. Curly, textured hair — the kind a lot of black people have — is often called “wild.” Straight hair — the kind a lot of white people have — is considered “polished” and “professional.” We live in a culture where white people think it’s okay to touch black people’s hair. (It’s not, FYI.) But for an athlete, the best hairstyle is the kind that lets you accomplish your goals[...] What’s in her head, not what grows out of it. But since Gabby Douglas’s hair did not stand in the way of a gold medal, it should be a non-issue.” I understand, as Jezebel and the New York Times point out, that African American hair is a historical and political issue. I think that is one more reason that fellow African Americans should be embracing Gabby and her Gabolous hair. People around the world are respecting and admiring her for her athleticism and personality, not her hair or her skin color (or at least until the backlash). Seems like progress to me.
Some of my favorite twitter backlash against the hair haters:
Gabby Douglas can fix her hair. Some of yall can fix yourselves and your lack of aspirations/accomplishments at 20 something.
Gabby Douglas got real hair and real Olympic. All y’all got is weaves and envy.
So GabbyDouglas made history, is already a millionaire in endorsements @ 16 but yaw talkin bout her hair!! Retrieve a life oh
If you want to ride Gabby Douglas for her hair, you should be open to her coming over to critique your muscle tone.
To be completely honest, I never got past her gymnastics and her big smile (that makes me a little warm and fuzzy) to look at her hair. What’s next? Everyone is going to have a problem with the metal barrettes gymnasts wear being too 90′s for competition in 2012? Let me also point out that no discussion of male gymnasts’ hairstyles or an athlete’s receding hairline has been in the media.
Too Buff for Sexy
Watching the Opening Ceremonies, I was thinking how fabulous it would be to reside in the Olympic Village – young, fit, attractive athletes all in one place. But I was observing both men and women. Seriously, they are a bunch of fine human specimens. We talk a whole lot about female athlete’s bodies… in the negative. Meanwhile, male athletes are solely admired for their bodies. Their are some attractive male Olympians (despite their douchiness and grill wearing), but what about these hot lady Olympians?
The toned, muscular bodies of female athletes are criticized from boxing to judo to weightlifting. Note that in beach volleyball where women are competing in “gender-appropriate” garments in an acceptable female sport that their bodies are admired, not under scrutiny. Female boxing made its Olympic debut this year… where women boxers were initially asked to wear skirts. Seriously? Boxing is a traditionally male sport after all, so we must distinguish the men from the women. These buff female bodies make it hard to subscribe a gender, which is necessary in our culture. As U.S. flyweight Tyrieshia Douglas exemplified in an AP interview, “We’re women and women should be wearing a woman’s uniform. We need to look more feminine. Under the headgear, you don’t know if it’s a man or a woman if we don’t have any boobs. You don’t know until we take off the headgear” (ESPN).
Ultimately, strong female Olympians are threatening male physical superiority (or at least the idea of it), resulting in the media’s need to police female bodies. Not to mention, media pushes our society to value women solely for their appearances (after all we were put on this earth just to look at). If you look at the recent cover of Vogue as an example, Hope Solo and Serena Williams are massively feminized and sexualized with flowing hair and perfect make-up running daintily along the beach resting on a man’s powerful arm. Gag.
I think the best response to all the criticism was given by Olympic weightlifter Zoe Smith. After a British documentary filmed, British guys united in bashing Zoe Smith’s body for not being feminine enough. And she responded by verbally kicking them in the balls on her blog.
As Hannah pointed out earlier, we don’t lift weights in order to look hot, especially for the likes of men like that. What makes them think that we even WANT them to find us attractive? If you do, thanks very much, we’re flattered. But if you don’t, why do you really need to voice this opinion in the first place, and what makes you think we actually give a toss that you, personally, do not find us attractive? What do you want us to do? Shall we stop weightlifting, amend our diet in order to completely get rid of our ‘manly’ muscles, and become housewives in the sheer hope that one day you will look more favourably upon us and we might actually have a shot with you?! Cause you are clearly the kindest, most attractive type of man to grace the earth with your presence.
Oh but wait, you aren’t. This may be shocking to you, but we actually would rather be attractive to people who aren’t closed-minded and ignorant. Crazy, eh?! We, as any women with an ounce of self-confidence would, prefer our men to be confident enough in themselves to not feel emasculated by the fact that we aren’t weak and feeble.
I could not have possibly said it better myself. Female Olympians (and all Olympians for that matter) are in the spotlight because of their athletic abilities, hard work, and perseverance that landed them at the ultimate competition. So why the fuck are we so worried about these women’s bodies? (It’s not like they would sleep with you anyway.) They aren’t on television to glide down a runway and have their bodies critiqued; they are on television to show you how freaking bad-ass they are at their sport. I know that our culture does say that we are to value women only for their reproductive abilities and therefore their bodies, but just for 17 days can we try to appreciate some women for something a little bit more than that? Please.