It’s only been four days since the Rio Olympics began, but male supremacy and misogyny have already reared their ugly heads, despite the fact female athletes have been demolishing world records.
Take the case of Hungary’s Katinka “Iron Lady” Hosszu, for starters. The Olympic swimmer shattered a world record on Saturday night in the women’s 400-meter medley, but according to NBC sports commentator Dan Hicks, her success was possible only because of her husband, Shane Tusup.
Although it’s rare for a husband to coach his wife, and Tusup’s unconventional training tactics may have been a key part of Hosszu’s incredible success, the insinuation that Hosszu was not chiefly responsible for her own gold medal reeks of sexism.
Hicks, instead of apologizing for and backtracking his statement, went on the defensive and said it was “impossible” to credit Hosszu without giving recognition to her husband.
OK, so Hosszú (swimmer) shatters a world record by 2 seconds, and NBC's broadcaster gives the credit to her husband and coach. WTF? #Sexism— Tim Gibson (@timgibson) August 7, 2016
"There's the man responsible for turning his wife into an entirely new swimmer..." REALLY, NBC?— Charlotte Wilder (@TheWilderThings) August 7, 2016
Soon after, the Chicago Tribune came under fire for describing bronze-medal winning American trapshooter Corey Cogdell-Unrein as the “wife of Bears’ lineman.” Cogdell-Unrein is indeed married to Mitch Unrein, but the fact is completely irrelevant in light of her being a three-time Olympian and two-time bronze medal winner.
The offensive headline only referred to her achievement but did not even mention in which sport. The story did not mention the fact that she won a bronze medal for the second time and that she was participating in the Olympics for a third time, but, instead, went off on another tangent about her husband.
Oh Lord, Chicago Trib. She has a NAME. And she's an Olympian. And it's not "wife of Bears' lineman" https://t.co/11Fvy3lS30— Soledad O'Brien (@soledadobrien) August 7, 2016
Perhaps one day too I will be allowed to be a man's wife and also be able to win something too.— Mollie Goodfellow (@hansmollman) August 7, 2016
It was just as bad when American swimmer Katie Ledecky broke her own world record in the 400-meter freestyle and the Daily Mail branded her as a “female Michael Phelps.” The headline has since been replaced with a more appropriate one but the label is still being used in the article. What’s more, many people in the comment sections have said she swam “like a man,” referring to the myth that female athletes are not feminine.
However, the Twitterati had the perfect response to that ignorant claim.
"She swims like a man"— courtney priebe (@cpriebae) August 8, 2016
Um excuse me? She swims like an incredibly talented FEMALE athlete who has spent all her 19 years training for this
"Katie Ledecky swims like a man."— Charles Clymer (@cmclymer) August 8, 2016
No, she swims like Katie Ledecky, who is a woman, ergo: she swims like a woman. Fast.#RioOlympics2016
Also, if you’re not a world-class cyclist, you probably shouldn’t be giving lame and completely needless advice to a person who is so accomplished that she made the Olympics. But that’s what happened to Dutch cyclist Annemiek van Vleuten, who fractured her vertebrae and suffered from a concussion when her bike crashed.
Tweeting out a post on Sunday, van Vleuten said she would be fine but was extremely disappointed at the loss of what could have been a career defining win. But, apparently, this sexist guy had to put in his two cents and mansplained how to cycle.
@AvVleuten first lesson in bicycling, keep your bike steady... whether fast or slow.— Martin A. Betancourt (@MartinArielB) August 8, 2016
He’s probably one of those guys who think women can’t drive (or ride a bicycle for that matter), but fans soon set him straight.
NBC struck once again after an as yet unnamed commentator said Team USA’s gymnasts looked like they “might as well be standing in the middle of a mall” just because they were caught on camera laughing and flushed with victory after killing the competition during the qualifying round.”
No, NBC anchor, those female gymnasts do not look like "they might as well be standing in the middle of a mall." They are at the Olympics. 😑— Natalie DiBlasio (@ndiblasio) August 7, 2016
Right now, NBC seems to be winning the race for the most sexist comments during the event. The channel was soundly criticized after it showed too many commercials during Friday’s five-hour opening ceremony. However, instead of admitting they were running after a few dollars, NBC spokesman John Miller said it’s because women enjoy commercials and are "not particularly sports fan."
“The people who watch the Olympics are not particularly sports fans. More women watch the games than men, and for the women, they're less interested in the result and more interested in the journey. It's sort of like the ultimate reality show and mini-series wrapped into one,” Miller said.
Again, it’s important to mention here that all of this happened in the first four days of the games. Let’s see what 12 more days of the Olympics bring.