The Olympics are over. For me, this means I have to go back to parenting. No more abandoning my kids in front of a DVD player with the instructions, “Call me when it’s time for bed.” No more eating dinner in front of the TV in the basement, which we euphemistically call “having a picnic.” No more outdoing our neighbours with the size of our flag.
Yesterday, after reading and commenting on Natasha’s post, “The Canadian Women’s Olympic Hockey Scandal,” I started to think about gender and the 2010 Winter Games.
The statistics for Team Canada, at least, are impressive. Women made up 44% of Canada’s 206 member Olympic team. Fifty-six percent of our medals, whether individual or team, came from female athletes.
These stats are fantastic. I am encouraged that we are moving toward an even playing field for women in sports.
We are, right?
But what surprised me is just how many gender-related issues there were at the 2010 Olympics.
- The beer drinking and cigar smoking of the Canadian women after winning hockey gold proved to be controversial, sparking letters to the editor across the country. It still would have made the media if the men’s team had partied on the ice at Canada Hockey Place, but it wouldn’t have garnered as much attention. As a society, we hold women to a higher moral standard that does not include partying after being crowned the best in the world. It might be a strange thing to argue, but women have as much right to kill brain cells as men do. It shouldn’t be a story.
- If Jon Montgomery, winner of the gold in men’s skeleton, were female, the media – and possibly the IOC — would have been all over the sculling of a pitcher of beer in public. Instead, he’s lauded as the poster boy for easy-going Canada, which he deservedly is. I just don’t get why a man can chug sixty ounces of beer given to him by a stranger, but a woman can’t have a can from the locker room.
- Women were not allowed to compete in ski jumping. Apparently, the Olympic committee decided that female ski jumpers aren’t good enough to participate, never mind that they have their own World Cup. Yes, forbidding women to ski jump at the Olympic Games will really encourage more girls to get involved in the sport.
- Johnny Weir, US figure skater, was criticized by some media for being feminine. While it’s conceivable that the media might criticize a woman for being masculine, the implication would be different. Calling Weir feminine is to suggest he’s “lesser than.”
So what’s the lesson? There may not be one. But there’s still work to be done before our daughters and sons are full partners in this world of sport and media.
Now, it’s your turn: does gender bias still exist in sports?