Gender Inequality in Sports
Women and sport, 2016 edition.
This summer has been a real celebration for all sports, so the media coverage has been very large on the subject as well. Recently there has been an increasing amount of talk about whether women’s sport is neglected in a discriminating way in the media and I find this discussion very interesting especially because I do follow all kinds of sports. The moment that inspired me to write this was when I watched a program, where a group of successful Finnish athletes gather in Florida, hosted by one of world’s best ice-hockey players, Teemu Selänne, to compete in light-minded sport activities and go through their careers one athlete per episode. These athletes were some of the most successful Finns… and all men except for one figure skater, Kiira Korpi. So I wrote this but didn't publish it... until I saw a picture on Facebook: a huge headline screaming how Michael Phelps won silver swimming 200 meters. And a teeny tiny headline somewhere inside the paper stating that a female swimmer, Simone Manuel, won gold... Except she didn't just win gold, she also made history being the first African-American winning gold at that particular sport, but hey, who cares! My blood was boiling.
The aforementioned Finnish program is really interesting and each person there has earned the right to be there but the very predictable and a poor bet from the producers and everyone involved was the fact that they couldn’t/wouldn’t(?) get at least one more woman there. It's not as if Finland doesn't have enough successful female athletes! First of all it looks ridiculous to see this petite, young woman surrounded by these big, loud men staring at her (bum!) while she's participating in these silly group activities each day. Secondly on her day she, quite boldly, took this very topic on the table and was immediately steam-rolled over by couple of the men who belittled the issue completely.
This put my teeth on edge, as it always does. Not the fact that there is no sign of gender equality in the program but the fact that these men, who I thought had more brain cells in their use, dared to say it out-loud that there is no gender inequality in different sports. How can they ignore something that is so obvious and claim that especially in Finland this issue doesn’t exist, that Finland would be a forerunner in this... Bullshit!!
I did a little research; I Googled the words ‘women’ and ‘sport’ in Finnish and all I got as a result was online clothing stores advertising sportswear for women and one opinion article in the biggest newspaper in Finland published only couple months ago reflecting this very issue titled “Men are better in sports than women.” The writer (a man, surprisingly...) justifies this claim by saying that in ski-jumping a man jumps 150 meters, a woman only 100 meters. At this point my teeth are not on edge any more, they are aching with rage. THAT’S NOT THE POINT, YOU ASSWIPE!
Yes, it’s very true that the results between women and men in one sport may not be compatible but nobody ever insisted that they should be. The problem here are people like this apparent sport historian who wrote this idiotic opinion and got visibility in the biggest paper in Finland most probably by the hand of a male editor whose brain capacity doesn’t reach any higher extent than this historian’s. These men who ignore a very clear drift in our society, either on purpose or because they are just simply too stupid to see it, are unfortunately often in charge in different medias. So their ignorance is fanned out upon all of us on TV, on the radio, in newspapers, everywhere. They don’t publish successful sport stories about women the way they do about male athletes, as national heroes. Kiira Korpi, for example, is our most successful figure skater but the most media coverage she has had has been about how pretty she is, not the sport or her influence in the Finnish sport scene overall.
Thank goodness for social media, because without it this issue would never have gotten even the little coverage it has had recently. It’s not about the results, it’s about acknowledging the women who do well in sports the same way as men are acknowledged. They are as much, or maybe even more, heroes as men are! Women have to put up with a lot more criticism, much of which has nothing to do with the actual sport as we could see in the case of the Mexican gymnast Alexa Moreno at the Olympics. In addition to which women already are harder on themselves than men usually. Young girls need these female athletes as role models who do well despite all the doubters!