The symbolic annihilation of women and women of color has not quieted in spite of the fact that our generation is witnessing a powerful, more diverse group of females compete as impressive Olympians. Even when this year’s group of competing women becomes more inclusionary, racism and sexism still permeate the dialogue. This is especially true when athletes are not white or touched up. Jewish-American, Puerto Rican-American, European-American and African American women who are being coached by Romanian American immigrants comprise this year’s gymnastic Olympic team. Audiences have insinuated and directly claimed that affirmative action is responsible for giving extremely talented black and latino Olympians a chance to showcase their strengths in spite of their obviously great abilities.
Where one would expect praise for successes or criticism for failures, the women winning gold medals are receiving reprisal simply for occupying an untouched up vessel. Their appearance and lack of makeup are at the forefront of sexist Fox News commenters’ talks rather than the greatness achieved within their sport. Various media outlets also undercut and do not provide coverage for many of these women’s accomplishments.
I wish that there was just one slightly problematic comment that occurred as Bo Dietl and Mark Simone from Fox News gave their appalling input. Their comments on the female Olympian’s lack of makeup outraged many. Shockingly, these women were not at the Olympics for their physique to be criticized, for they showed up to the 2016 Olympics with the intent of competing for the sport that they likely spent most of their life training for.
“When you see an athlete, why should I have to look at some chick’s zits!? Why not a little blush on her lips and cover those zits?” – Bo Dietl
“The whole point of the Olympics, the whole point of this training, for the work to get there, is product endorsements.” – Mark Simone
“Would you put money behind a gal that won the gold medal and looks like a washed-out rag?” – Bo Dietl
This overt sexism is detrimental and destructive as it targets female athletes who are proving their potential while inspiring young girls everywhere. This year’s Olympic team has included inspiring women from various backgrounds, urging children to say, “hey, that could be me up there!” When news outlets attempt to objectify and dismiss these female athletes to be nothing but a body for the male gaze, the entire conversation shifts. To Bo Dietl and Mark Simone: children and young girls are watching. These little girls will hopefully learn to rise above sexist statements like yours, recognize that their skills and strengths are not contingent upon how men perceive their looks.That unfortunately, in a patriarchal society to be gifted and visible does not always acquire praise and frequently men will shame us without realizing it. We will rise above, and we will choose to be seen anyway.