Olympic Annoyances – Gender and Race
I in no way want to diminish the seriousness of the the many human rights abuses associated with China by talking about a couple of minor Olympics-related grievances. Amnesty International has information on those topics, as does Human Rights Watch.
Now, on to the things that put a bug up my butt as I watched some of the coverage yesterday.
-Female athletes being described as “charming.” As I watched them, I saw women and girls who were athletic, powerful, graceful, accomplished – “charming?” – I just don’t care. Will any of the male athletes be described as charming? Was this charming?
-During the women’s gymnastics, the commentators were trying to figure out what was going on with an American gymnast who had been expected to compete in an event, but obviously wasn’t. Turns out she had an injury in practice. The comment was something like (as best I could quickly jot it down): “This is the biggest day of her life. It’s like having a tear in your wedding dress before you walk down the aisle.” Yeah, a tear in your dress would be totally f’ing tragic, and just like the gymnast wasn’t competing, you would definitely not end up married. And you know, working you @$$ off for years to be one of the elite in your field/sport/what-have-you only to miss out on one of your events is *totally* equivalent to a minor fabric flaw. Because unless they’re Olympians, getting married is pretty much what women have to look forward to. Jerks.
-Discussion of whether or not this girl is old enough to compete. I don’t care – she’s a damn good gymnast. It has been more online comments rather than Olympic news commentators bugging me on this one. As though all you in the peanut gallery are really specially calibrated age-detecting instruments, sensitive to within 2 years. Yes, she looks young. She’s a gymnast, which tends to minimize secondary sex characteristics. She’s also not all tarted up like Hannah Montana as some kind of parent-friendly sex symbol, as we Americans tend to do to your young performing girls. And excuse me, but she’s Chinese. I hate to break it to you, but Asian women tend to age better than those commenters coming from a mostly white perspective would expect. Here’s my Korean grandmother, at 76 years old. Here’s my half-Korean mom, at 47. You should be so lucky. This one is personally annoying to me – I remember being teased during my teens/early 20s – “you look 12.” No, I looked like what completely 100% white girls looked like at 12, when they were caking crap on their faces to look older and spending too much time on tanning. That sounds mean. I’m just annoyed that this seems to come from a perspective that doesn’t acknowledge real differences. Not everyone is like you, even in aging.
That concludes today’s bug up my butt, sponsored by humorless feminists r us. That is all.