How Women Are Covered

beach-volley-ball-germany-egypt

Last month I suggested that the satirical focus on Philip May’s wardrobe was because of the social media backlash against sexist media reports.

Sports reporting is particularly bad in this regard and the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro has thrown up some ur-examples, so its only right that we call them out.

The obsession with BBC presenter Helen Skelton is quite ridiculous:

Meanwhile, the Chicago Tribune has come up with this shocker: announcing a bronze medal for Team USA trap shooter Corey Cogdell, the paper failed to mention her name.

Here is a round-up of some of the incredulous responses.  The actual report does thankfully include Ms Cogdell’s name, but it is completely framed by the fact that she is married to a Chicago Bears player.

Meanwhile, there is another image doing the rounds: that of Egyptian beach volleyball player Doaa Elghobashy competing in her hijab.

Doaa Elghobashy and Kira Walkenhorst
Doaa Elghobashy (left) of Egypt and Kira Walkenhorst (right) of Germany compete at Rio 2016. © Lucy Nicholson / Reuters

There are plenty of images of this particular game, but the symmetry (or, I suppose, the absence of symmetry) in this shot by Lucy Nicholson is the best.

Now there is a view which says that even remarking on the differences between the attire of the two players (in this case, Elghobashy and her opponent Kira Walkenhorst) is buying into an inherent sexist assumption, that women’s clothes should matter.  But I don’t think that holds.  Until recently, the rules insisted that players wore swimsuits, which obviously meant an unnecessary de facto exclusion for some people.  That this silly requirement has been abandoned is noteworthy.  It also reinforces one of the most important aspects of the Olympic Games, which is that people from diverse cultures can find commonality in sport.

1 thought on “How Women Are Covered”

  1. It also reinforces the fact that skimpy costumes for the women are quite unnecessary.

    Personally I find both outfits a bit disturbing, inasmuch as the costumes are dictated by male preferences. Surely there’s a happy, autonomous medium.

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