Why is gender discrimination still a problem in the Olympic Games, which are “the most gender equal”?Olympic News


The 2020 Tokyo Olympics is hailed as “the first ever Olympic Games for equality between men and women.”

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) stated that since the number of male and female athletes is almost the same, and the sports schedule provides equal visibility for men’s and women’s events during prime time, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) stated that it has taken deliberate action to ensure that this year’s Olympics become “A landmark event.” Gender equality”, both on and off the stadium.

But analysts say that rhetoric is “far from reality.”

Analysts say that from the gendered uniforms and sexist portrayals in the media, to women having to work hard to bring their breastfed children to the Olympic Games, which are restricted by the pandemic, discrimination is still widespread.

Dr. Michelle O’Shea, senior lecturer at the Business School of Western Sydney University in Australia, said: “This idea of ​​equal numbers actually obscures the fact that there is still a lot of work to be done.” “Yes, we have both on the court and on the arena. Women. But their experience is still very worrying.”

This is largely related to the history of women being excluded from sports.

When the first modern Olympic Games were held in Athens, Greece in 1896, women were deliberately banned from participating.

At that time, Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the International Olympic Committee, believed that the Olympic Games with women would be “unrealistic, boring, unsightly and indecent”. He said that the Olympics were set up to “solemnly and regularly improve the athletic ability of men” and “rewarded by the applause of women.”

Jordan Matthews, a senior lecturer in sports development at the University of Chichester, UK, said: “Immediately, you can see the kind of rejection women face in the Olympic movement.” “If they are allowed to participate, then It is to applaud the male athletes who actually participate in the competition.”

Stereotypes

But the women fought back, he said.

Under the pressure of French rower Alice Milliat and other athletes, the International Olympic Committee began to include more and more women’s events. Nevertheless, for many years, women have been “limited to participating in more aesthetic activities” or “even games and dancing activities” such as swimming, figure skating and fencing.

“The idea around this is that it is more suitable for female biology and poses less threat to the mainstream image of femininity at the time,” Matthews said. “We don’t want women to run too far because they may sweat, and we don’t want them to sweat. They may not throw things that far because we don’t want them to damage their internal organs.”

Over time, the International Olympic Committee did give way to female athletes-albeit reluctantly.

It was not until 2012 that global sports organizations allowed women to participate in all the Olympic events, and it was not until 2014 that they promised to achieve gender equality in the Olympics.

This year, among the 11,000 Olympians, women accounted for 48.8%, up from 45.6% in 2016 and 44.2% in 2012.

On Wednesday, August 4, 2020, in the Women’s Park Skateboarding Final at the 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, Japanese player Misu Okamoto participated in the competition [Ben Curtis/ AP]
On July 27, 2021, American athlete Karissa Moore won the gold medal in the women’s surfing competition of the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tsuzaki Beach, Ichinomiya City, Japan. [File: Francisco Seco/ AP]

In total, they participated in more than 300 competitions, including some previously only open to men, such as the 1,500-meter freestyle. They also participated in all new sports added to the Olympics, including skateboarding and surfing, and they also played side by side with men in several mixed men’s and women’s competitions such as track and field, swimming and triathlon.

Nonetheless, events such as the Olympic decathlon — the crowning of the world’s greatest athlete — continue to exclude women. The 50-kilometer race walk also prohibits women from participating. The International Olympic Committee and the World Athletics Federation stated that the women’s race currently lacks sufficient depth and quality to justify the Olympic status.

At the same time, when it comes to gymnastics, men’s and women’s programs continue to be different. Josie Jones, manager of diversity and inclusion in female sports, pointed out that men participate in “show-strength” programs such as pommel horses and rings, while women participate in “balance and Artistic skills such as beams and floors are exhibited.

“The music of the women’s floor activity is also more like a dance, and it is also very aesthetic,” she said. “I find it very confusing. Yes, men are on average bigger and stronger than women, but I find it hard to believe that women can’t’hit’ well and men can’t keep up the rhythm.”

“Surely we have a stereotype here?” She added.

‘The science in question’

This ideal of gender discrimination also haunts the rules regarding qualifications.

A typical example is the International Olympic Committee’s regulations on testosterone.

The rules established by the World Athletics Federation stipulate that if intersex or female athletes with different gender development want to participate in the 400-1500-meter middle and long-distance running events, they need to artificially lower their testosterone levels to less than 5 nanomoles per liter. Meter.

This resulted in the disqualification of several women, mainly from the global South.

American Gabriel Thomas (right) leads Namibia’s Christine Mboma in the women’s 200m race at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo on Monday, August 2, 2020 [Petr David Josek/ AP]

Two Namibian players-Christine Mboma and Beatrice Massilingi-were eliminated from the 400m race despite being considered medal contenders. South Africa’s Caster Semenya, Burundi’s Francine Niyonsaba and Kenya’s Margaret Wambui were also banned from participating in the 800m race-the trio swept the event at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Summer Olympics. Semenya won the gold medal, Niyonsaba and Wambu won the silver and bronze medals respectively.

Cara Ocobock, an assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Notre Dame, said the testosterone rules were “problematic,” “sexist,” and “based on problematic science.”

She said this means that testosterone, which is mainly a male hormone, is “the most powerful secret to athletic performance.” “This is not true. There are many other variables-including genetics, hormones, training and nutrition, and even how athletes feel on the morning of the game.”

she notes Of the 11 running events analyzed by World Athletics, only 3 showed a significant relationship between performance and testosterone, and stated that other events that did show a significant relationship-such as hammer throwing and pole vaulting-were not even Within the specified range.

She said: “We do not have reliable data to understand what may happen.” “Before we really have the science to really provide information for decision-making, I will be on the side of inclusiveness.”

‘Innovation’

Women’s obstacles will not end with qualifications.

This year, as the International Olympic Committee banned families from entering the Olympic Village, some women had to fight to bring breastfed children. It only breathed a sigh of relief when stars such as Canadian basketball player Kim Gaucher complained on social media that she was forced to choose between “a breastfeeding mother or an Olympic athlete.”

Then there is the issue of sexualization.

The Representation Project, a gender justice organization based in the United States, stated that its analyze Primetime media reports in the first week of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics found that female athletes are 10 times more likely to be visualized by camera angles than male athletes.

It also found that two-thirds of female athletes wear revealing clothing, compared with half of male athletes.

Lucy Piggott, a postdoctoral fellow at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, said: “Imagine being a female athlete and working hard, knowing that hundreds of millions of people are watching you and feeling uncomfortable with your clothes.” “This is a male athlete that rarely needs to be considered. Thing.”

Pauline Schaefer-Betz of Germany performs floor exercise during the Women’s Rhythmic Gymnastics Qualifying Tournament for the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics [File: Gregory Bull/ AP]

She said that this is why the German women’s gymnastics team decided to wear full-body suits instead of bikini-cut tights at the Olympics, and the Norwegian beach handball team risked a fine and decided to wear shorts. Rather than the bikini bottoms required for the recent European Beach Handball Championships.

Pigot said that given the small number of women working in top sports, this is not surprising.

Only one-third of the Executive Committee of the International Olympic Committee are women, and this number is even lower for other Olympic and Paralympic sports organizations.

Research conducted by Piggott and Matthews of the University of Chichester Established In the executive committees of international sports organizations, women account for only 22%, and only 7% of chairpersons or chairperson positions.

At the same time, in the past decade, only 10% of certified coaches for the Summer and Winter Olympics were women.

“Great progress has been made in terms of gender equality for Olympic athletes,” she said. “But we still have a long way to go.”

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