I loved the Olympics as a kid, and they are still a big deal in my house. My husband is Greek so there’s a lot of “we invented this” pride happening (insert loving eye roll here). But these Olympics have left me deflated. It’s not that there weren’t many AH-MAZE-ING performances and stories. I mean, the US gymnastics team, Simone Manuel, Katie Ledecky, the women’s 4X400 relay team, and so many more.
So why am I feeling a bit jaded? (That’s a rhetorical question, the answer is sexism). US women were huge winners at the Rio games, and it seemed like no one knew how to properly react. The media were atrocious in their commentary on women athletes—reducing the US women’s gymnastics team to giggly teens at the mall or focusing on athletes’ husbands or marriage proposals instead of their accomplishments.
Seriously, what’s the deal with public proposals? I mean, this one, where a Chinese diver had her Olympic metal moment upstaged by someone who supposedly loves and respects her? And then the media gushed about how getting a ring and this dude was a waaaaaay bigger prize than the silver was? What a disaster. Even she states in an interview that her feelings about it are “complicated.” Gymnast Ali Raisman got a public proposal for a date while live on a talk show and people thought it was romantic (nope). And there was also a Brazilian rugby player who received a public marriage proposal that even gave me, your local feminist killjoy, some warm fuzzies. But then I promptly had to reevaluate my feelings because public proposals are not good.
We’ve been told over and over (mostly by cheesy movies and TV) that proclaiming your love from the mountaintop is romantic. But the thing about public proposals is that they don’t give the person a real chance to say no. And those who do say no are questioned and criticized. This is coercive behavior and an all too familiar technique used by those who abuse their partners.
I’m not saying that everyone who makes public proposals is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. But I am asking that we shift how we think about this. If you are thinking about making a grand public gesture of love, think twice. Do you know how this person feels about public displays of affection? Have you previously talked about the thing you are asking? I love seeing the love, really. I want more love. Love for all! But that means having relationships that are built on respect and space to speak your truth.
Some stories that caught our eye this week:
What Can You Do to Broaden Your Worldview? Have Dinner with Your Muslim Neighbor “One participant at the dinner suggested that it shouldn’t be the duty of the oppressed to educate the oppressors, but Saab dismissed that, explaining that it is one of the pillars of Islam to stand up for all people and to advocate for any marginalized people.”
The hotly contested Olympic medal table of sexism “Detailed commentary setting female gymnasts up against one another and reducing them entirely to their leotards, including references to how “dainty” or “ultra-feminine” they were and even comparing them to Disney fairies.”
Leslie Jones, we’ve got your back! “Racism is not new, but it’s happening in new and different ways. Hateful people have a huge platform to spew their racist hate, and they have no remorse.”
And finally, a little musical parody to entertain you:
Some stories that caught our eye this week:
New Allegations of Sexual Abuse at Fordham Prep Remind Us That Men Can Be Victims, Too “Movements for rape survivors have a history of forgetting that men can suffer sexual violence as well as perpetrate it.”
Simone Biles on Her Legacy: ‘I’m Not the Next Usain Bolt or Michael Phelps. I’m the 1st Simone Biles’ “Don’t compare her to Michael Phelps, or any other gold medal winner, because she’s not them. And during her post-win interview, she made it a point to make sure people knew that.”
A South Carolina Student Was Arrested for ‘Disturbing a School’ When She Challenged Police Abuse, So We Sued “Every year, more than a thousand students in South Carolina — some as young as 7 years old — face criminal charges for not following directions, loitering, cursing, or the vague allegation of acting “obnoxiously.”
I stayed up way too late last night. I love the Olympics and cannot break away once I start watching. I’m so proud of the women from all over the world who compete—women on every team this year for the first time in Olympic history.
There is so much to say. I could write about Title IX, and the opportunities it created for women athletes. Or about the research that shows that girls who engage in sports are more bomb-proof when it comes to abuse—with a stronger sense of self and their own personal power. Or about the great ways that men are engaging in violence prevention campaigns through sports.
Nah. I’m going to write about fashion.
Don’t you think Misty and Kerri were looking a tad overclad as they took to the sand for their volleyball match? I wondered if it was just too chilly for their regular “uniforms”—as the pair calls their bikinis—or if jolly olde England is imposing a dress code.
Watching the pair muscle through their matches reminded me of a recent conversation with my brother-in-law. He’d just finished up work on a dissertation committee for a woman researcher seeking her degree in fashion design (who knew?). Turns out activists come in all professions. God knows we need someone shaking up women’s clothing.
She studied active adult women and their experiences shopping for athletic wear—clothing for running, walking, cycling, etc. Can you imagine? She found a lot of dissatisfied women. And a gigantic untapped market of those of us who will never fit into a size 0, or 00. Women who strive to stay active—even as companies don’t even try to make clothes that fit our bodies and that we look good in.
This particular researcher took a teaching job in West Virginia—with the stipulation that the school purchase plus size manikins for her students to use when designing.
How about it Nike, Columbia, Adidas? If you make it, we’ll leap tall buildings in a single bound to buy it. And maybe we’ll smash some sexism along the way.