Swimming in sexism

Logan Crews, opinions writer

This past August, little girls across the country sat in front of their televisions with wide eyes and bright smiles. Their eyes were glued to swimmer Katie Ledecky as she broke her own world record in the 800-meter freestyle, and girls of color were inspired as Simone Manuel became the first African-American female swimmer to win a medal in the Olympics. Their confidence spiked and their motivation to become the next Olympic legend began. The female Olympians changed the world and hearts of aspiring athletes, but still can’t change the standard that women aren’t on the same level as men. If only people viewed women’s sports as adoringly as they view Ariana Grande’s vocal chords, then we’d be golden.

 

According to Topend Sports, from the beginning of the Greek Olympics in 776 BC until global Olympics in 1900, women weren’t allowed to compete because they were seen as “impractical” and “incorrect.” Now, some women crush records and trump men on terms of athletic achievements every day. The thing is, they are still seen as an abnormality and are constantly compared to men’s standards in the media instead of being recognized individually.

 

Katinka Hosszu, a Hungarian swimmer, broke a world record in the 200-meter individual medley this year. Her fans cheered, and a fish mascot ran the length of the pool with a flag reading, “World Record.” Even though it was obvious she trained hard and had an extreme talent for swimming, The Washington Post said NBC commentator Dan Hicks gave all of the credit to her coach and husband, Shane Tusop, regarding him as “the man responsible.” Reactions to this comment were varied, but it made most people assume all of Katinka’s hard work was actually his just because he is the man of their relationship and Olympic partnership. Apparently a woman cannot be responsible for anything more than housework. So what happened to her well-earned spotlight and confidence? It went down the drain faster than you can say “stereotypical sexism.”

 

Corey Cogdell of the United States won a bronze medal in trap shooting, and her name was taken off her accomplishment as well. The Chicago Tribune tweeted the news by saying, “Wife of a Bears’ lineman wins a Bronze medal today in Rio Olympics.” With that tweet, Cogdell’s achievement was handed to her husband for being a football player and a man, but this time, her name was erased from her work altogether.

 

It isn’t a surprise women are still treated differently than men, even in the midst of gold medals, broken records and making history, but not all fellow athletes understand. Unfortunately, even one male Olympian, Ryan Lochte, couldn’t help himself from comparing women to men, mentioning how it’s unusual for women to succeed as much as men in a Sports Illustrated interview. I thought that was obvious when Simone Biles became a gymnast legend, but apparently it hasn’t gotten in everyone’s heads yet.

 

Ryan Lochte, a swimmer for the United States, commented on Katie Ledecky’s record-breaking swim for a Sports Illustrated profile saying, “She swims like a guy… She’s beating me now and I’m like, ‘What is going on?’” What is going on? A woman made an outstanding accomplishment, Ryan, yet you speak of her like she broke a rule instead of a record.

 

Now that the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics have ended, these female athletes have been able to reflect on their experiences, Simone Biles asking CNN Why do you have to compare us to someone else?” No matter how many sexist lashes are taken at women, they rebound off their skin with every lap taken in the pool or around the track. They are both physically and mentally strong, and there is no doubt they’ll use that strength again in four years. So, unless you’d like your titles and attention back, keep talking, boys.