I love the Olympics – that much talent, drive, ambition? The heartbreak, the glory? It’s all great. (The tape delay coverage of only events where the US medals can be a little frustrating, but I do appreciate a canned summary style approach since I can’t watch Olympics all day every day. Although that would make for an amazing and ironically lazy vacation.)
This year for the first time that I have seen the Olympics coverage is getting heat for some sexist coverage.
I am going to admit something that I don’t want to admit. A lot of times when I read things about something sexist happening, my instinct is to dismiss it. My first thought is usually that someone is crying wolf or needs to get over it (in my defense, I feel like I tend to react to most articles thinking that people are too often on the side of dumb and dramatic. In other words, I’m no stranger to being mean and/or judgmental.)
I say that about being dismissive in case you are like me, to maybe lend credence to my words. I am going to share with you my reaction to a comment I heard the other night during a US-Sweden beach volleyball match.
Announcer: “and the mother of three comes up with another huge block!” (or some sort of fantastic play, Walsh Jennings is a beast.)
Me: I bet that’ll be a comment that is dissected for being sexist.
Counter-Me: But is it sexist? I mean, she had three kids and she is THAT fit and athletic. Having kids takes a toll and is a massive time commitment, so that is just plain impressive.
Me: Yeah but would you ever hear, who was that cornerback in the NFL with a crap ton of kids from different ladies?, ‘And so and so, a father of seven, with an amazing pick!’
Counter-Me: No, but that doesn’t take any effort. If he was a good dad who spend tons of time with the kids, that’d be one thing. But being pregnant and having a kid is a whole lot more physically tolling than providing one ingredient for the recipe.
Me: But isn’t there sort of an implied thing there? Moms work harder than dads?
Counter-Me: Well … yeah, but that’s true most of the time, right? How is that bad?
Me: Maybe it’s not bad. But consider this. The implication that moms work harder than dads also means there is something of an expectation there. That it is ‘weird’ for a dad to stay at home after kids enter the picture but not for a mom. And if it’s not weird for a mom to stay home, does that mean it’s weird for a mom to NOT stay at home?
There are just all kinds of possible subtle expectations when you have assumed roles for men and women. I mean, just think about how many veterans are committing suicide – could that be influenced by the fact that women are expected to show emotions, and men aren’t? You have all these guys with incredibly trying and possibly awful experiences and they come home and the ‘normal’ thing to do is say, “I’m fine,” crack a beer, and move on?
Counter-Me: Ok … so, what? Everything is sort of secretly biased?
Me: No. It’s natural, when someone points out something that you might be doing wrong, to take that to an extreme. ‘Oh I OFFENDED you?! I OFFENDED YOU!? Well, let me just NEVER TALK AGAIN!’ All I’m saying is, when someone says something is sexist, or racist, or whatever, ask a bunch of questions, try to relate it to something personal, think through it slowly and if possible without emotion. Give it a proper smell test.
Counter-Me: So what if the announcer had said, “another huge block from Kerri Walsh Jennings! It’s incredible, the talent, the drive, the effort she has. She is a caring mom to three kids and the fact that she can balance the kids and the volleyball is impressive.’ … Would that be ok?
Me: Yeah I think so. But the thing is, it doesn’t need to come up that often. Say it every once and a while, but for the most part marvel at each play as it stands. Imagine how much more annoying NFL announcers would be if they brought up the players life outside of football every other play.
Ok, that concludes my thoughts I suppose. All I’m saying is – try to be aware of your words. And if I have said something crazy, or stupid, please let me know via email (DumbFunnery@gmail.com) or comments.
Lastly, as a reminder, because this word has a lot of negative connotations I think.
Feminism, in case you are unaware, is defined as the following, “the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.” Those who are not feminists are OK with the idea of a man flipping burgers for X dollars an hour, and a woman flipping burgers at the same skill level to earn less than X. To me, feminism represents being fair.