gender inequality

Sochi and the Sexism Olympics

In a tweet Yesiris  posted a few days ago, she linked to an article about the screen time between male athletes and female athletes in the Sochi Winter Olypmics. It’s the Olympics! What better way to show off how great every country is by showcasing our most talented athletes in everything they do! Oh wait, except they don’t show us every athlete. While TV’s primetime only lasts for so long during the day, cable networks are stretched for the amount of coverage you can give to each event. That’s all fine and dandy, but in the article, it’s said that men receive almost twice the amount of screen time that women do!

I know what you must be thinking. “But more men probably compete!/Men are more likely to win and bring home medals!/They’re stronger and better suited for sports!/It’s a man’s game!” WEEOOOWEEEOO. That’s my sexist alarm. In 2008, 42% of all athletes were women. That was in 2008. In 2012? 44%. Women brought home 58 medals that year (29 of them were golds!)– which was more than what men ended up winning in London. The gender gap between athletes has gotten much smaller since women were first able to compete in the 1900 Olympics, where only 22 women competed in total.  That’s quite a jump.

But what’s so wrong about the screen time female athletes do receive? Other than it being much less than what men receive (who are not only televised while they’re competing but they also have a higher chance of being interviewed and able to talk about their performance afterward), when women compete, it’s usually in the more “socially acceptable” sports for women – i.e., figure skating. (Which, even then, according to the article, men received 2/3rds of the total screen time for figure skating than women.) But there’s also a problem with the way the commentators react to the women competing. NBC commentators would refer to the women in the skiing halfpipe as “girls”, but all the men would be referred to as “men” or by name. When in regards to other sports women competed in, they were said to be doing that and “all of that while in a Lycra suit, maybe a little bit of makeup—now that is grace under pressure.” As if women’s sole purpose in the Games are to be visually appealing and not kickass and victorious in their sport.

Image credit to Matt’s Gifs

So why the sexism, friends? Why not give half the screen time to women, especially if they make up half the athletes? Why not show off wonderful athletes in their element and focus on their technique, execution and effort put into perfecting it?

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Religion and Gender Roles

In Samantha Eyler’s article, “Why I Had to Lose My Religion Before I Could Support Gender Equality”, she talks about how she was taught, as a child, to conform to rigorous gender roles. She, as a woman born into her fundamentalist religion, was to remain quiet and subordinate. That sort of brainwashing worked for her for 16 years. It wasn’t until she went off to college and devoured religion and philosophy courses and other holy books and scriptures, did she realize where her religion went wrong.

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She realized that her personal values and her religion’s morals didn’t line up. Why should she, someone who wanted to be a doctor or a senator, have to remain on the sidelines and do nothing except what her husband wished? Her tale of finding herself and then wanting to find religion all over again is near and dear to my heart.

I’ve been brought up in a strictly Catholic household. In Poland, where my parents are from, religion is the biggest and most important thing in everyone’s lives. At least, in my family. So when my parents came across the Atlantic, they brought their strict morals and guidelines from their religion with them. As a child, I followed along. I didn’t know any better, right? Maybe my faith started to break when I was told by my instructor in CCD that because I was a girl, I couldn’t be a pastor. I wanted to talk about my love for God and the love God had for me to people all the time. I wanted to share the word of God with people, so why shouldn’t I be able to be a pastor?

I started noticing the inequalities in my religion throughout high school but I would never be able to outright call them straight gender inequalities until I came to college myself. It angered me to see my religion treat women, who are just as devout as men, the way that they did. I wouldn’t stand for the hypocrisies I had been spoon fed since I was little. So I called off my religion. I stopped going to church, I stopped praying. I adopted the idea that if I led a good life and did good unto others, then I’d be okay. If I needed to talk to God, or gods or any other higher being, I could and I didn’t have to limit myself to the rituals of the Catholic church. I want to be able to do good in the world not because my religion has told me to, but because it’s the right thing to do.

And it may have torn a rift in my family, but there are much worse things to tear families apart than differing views on a religion or wanting to be treated as an equal.