Patriarchy and the Olympics

Some articles and blog posts I’ve been reading:

In Grand Olympic Show, Some Sleight of Voice. The Olympics organizers faced a dilemma when choosing the child to sing “Ode to the Motherland” at the opening ceremony. While they decided that seven year old Yang Peiyi had the best voice, they didn’t think she was as “flawless” as nine year old Lin Miaoke. The production team decided to use Yan Peiyi’s voice and put Lin Miaoke on stage. General music designer Chen Qigang justified this decision by explaining that “we must put our country’s interest first.” What a terrible message to send to both of the girls involved. One girl is told she’s not pretty enough, and the other is told she’s not talented enough. Peiyi told China Central Television that she is ok with it and is just happy that her voice was used in the performance. Miaoke’s father said that his daughter wasn’t upset by the news and that she “doesn’t care who sang the song, as long as she performed.” He added, “I don’t care about this either. The only thing I care about is that my daughter will not get hurt by this. She’ll understand when she grows up.”

Hoyden About Town blogs about the objectification of female athletes in the Olympics. The side by side comparisons of men and women athletes show that there is definitely a double standard when it comes to uniforms for male and female Olympians. As Lauredhel points out, “It’s not about faster, higher, stronger. Women in sports are promoted as sexualised bodies for ogling; men are promoted as performers.”

Olympic medal-winning women called “gold-diggers.” According to Feministing, Sydney Morning Herald published a picture of the Australian women’s 4×200 relay swim team with the caption, “Shock Result for Aussies Gold Diggers.” They have since changed the caption to “The Fab Four.”

Over at the Feministing community blog, there is a post about the sexualization of female Olympians. Another blogger wrote this post analyzing Buzz Bissinger’s “Creep Show” article in The New York Times.

The XY Games. This New York Times article examines the practice of subjecting female athletes to tests to verify that they are women. Jennifer Finney Boylan examines the difficulties in attempting to define gender in rigid, binary terms and arrives at this conclusion: “Maybe this means that Olympic officials have to learn to live with ambiguity, and make peace with a world in which things are not always quantifiable and clear.”


Slate posted this article about women’s uniforms in the table tennis competition. According to Yahoo Sports, the vice president of the International Table Tennis Federation is telling women players to wear skirts and shirts “with more curves” to attract viewers. Of course, he isn’t requesting that the men change their uniforms. It’s not right to ask the women players to change the way they dress since it obviously has nothing to do with functionality. The players should be able to wear whatever they choose, and the focus should be on their performance.


August 14, 2008 - Posted by | Feminism, Sexism | ,

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