"There is difference and there is power. And who holds the power decides the meaning of the difference." --June Jordan

Friday, August 15, 2008

Today in Double Standards: Olympic Edition


But did you also know that while male Olympic athletes should eat lots of calories in the form of a wide variety of delicious food, such as pancakes and sausage and delicious cheesy bean things and big old sandwiches on white bread, women should be sure to eat only “clean” foods? And that it is totally adorable when a man doesn’t cook at all, but women should always make their own food and never order pizza? And that eating junk food like oatmeal or cereal is very bad for you? And that an appropriate amount of “extra protein” after an Olympic caliber swimming workout consists of two eggs and two slices of toast?

Well, now you know.

Laredhel at Hoyden About Town:
A couple of years ago, Tigtog posted about athletlcs uniforms and the trend toward sexified, midriff-baring, underwear-style women’s uniforms.

At the time, she wondered whether the women at the next Olympics would be running in sports corsets. While not quite corsets, the women’s uniforms in the big sports are all skintight, while the men (with the exception of swimmers) are wearing looser with more coverage. Tigtog said it before, but I’ll say it again: minute increases in performance cannot account for this difference, otherwise the men would be in skintight clothing also.

No. It’s not about faster, higher, stronger. Women in sports are promoted as sexualised bodies for ogling; men are promoted as performers.

Kate Harding at Shapely Prose:
Barnes goes on to explain that the compression suits improve performance and make things easier on the athletes’ bodies — so, you know, he guesses it’s okay. “You can always regain your femininity when you have wriggled out of the damn things after the race.” Oh, hey, great point! I mean the one about how wearing functional, appropriate clothing to compete against other world-class athletes = a loss of femininity, of course. Thank god there’s a cure! Just wriggle out of a wet swimsuit on in front of a bunch of TV cameras, preferably flashing the boobs that were so confusingly compressed for a couple of minutes there!

And hey, didja know there actually have been boob flashes, y’all? Two Australian swimmers already had the suits come apart on them! AWESOME! (Which leads me to wonder: At some point, shouldn’t the possibility of seeing naked boobs outweigh the lamentable lack of outlines in the LZR Racer? Get your priorities straight, Barnes!)

It gets better. Given all the new world records being set in swimming these days, Barnes generously concedes, “So it’s worth looking a bit flat-chested if you want the speed.”

IF you want the speed. As an Olympic athlete.

“Hmm, shall I go with the suit that’s better for my body and will increase my chances of winning, or the one that will increase the pleasure of men staring at my tits while I compete in an event I’ve been training my fucking ass off for years? Crap, let me get back to you. That’s a toughie.”

Kayla at the Feministing Community Blog:
Why is it that women can not simply be strong, powerful, and athletic? Why must they be sexualized and forced in to evening gowns? And why is it that similar articles featuring men are never published? Oh, right. It's the Olympics. Of course the big, strong men will be going. But these muscular, toned women? Let's just cover up all of that masculine power with a sexy dress so we aren't too afraid to ogle their tits.


Anonymous said...

It's cool that the author of that differing breakfasts post said, "I’m not a nutritionist, so there may be some difference between men’s and women’s bodies that necessitates this, but it seemed odd to me." You know I was totally going to be blowing the horn of the women-burn-calories-differently-than-men-do train. If trains have horns.

Also, haha, it's awesome that anyone's thinking about Olympic women as sexual. Because they all gross me out. Especially the teenie gymnasts.

Tracey said...

A big complaint I've seen about the Olympics on a lot of blogs lately is that people are always finding a way to think of any women as sexual, and when performing other functions (like amazing athletic feats) gets prioritized over their being sexualized, it is lamented that they're not pretty or feminine enough. Ridiculous.

Unknown said...

I was always under the impression that the gold, silver, and bronze medals were given to female athletes based on who came in 1st, 2nd, or 3rd in a respective athletic competition, regardless of how they look. I'm glad Unapologetically Female set me straight.

I also assumed that female athletes, just like Michael Phelps, are free to eat what they choose. Thank you again, U.F.

habladora said...

Yeah, the double standards are crazy. How long do you think it will be before the unveiling of the Olympic pasties for women athletes? Sociological Images collects some good examples (here) too - with the images, so it is harder for the denialists to feign ignorance.

VW said...

Actually - teenie gymnasts are mostly not so much anymore. With the new age restrictions (except for a couple of the questionable Chinese athletes) it has been refreshing watching non-pixie gymnasts - young women with more muscular, mature bodies. And a 33 year old woman won a gymnastic medal!

As for the loss of femininity - do the men lose their masculinity by wearing less revealing, baggy uniforms?

Oh so silly of me to even ask . . .

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