The London Olympic Games have brought up a whole slew of discussions about gender, sexism and sexualization. Saudi Arabia finally decided to let female athletes compete for the first time ever, only to incite commentary that the women were ‘prostitutes’. The women’s Japanese soccer team flew economy while their male counterparts flew business to get to the Games.
While OIympians’ bodies are clearly on display for the whole world to see as they accomplish feats of physical mastery, some bodies are getting extra attention in ways that push far beyond the realm of official athletic appreciation.
Recently, the Dutch women’s field hockey team has been generally dubbed the “most beautiful team at the Olympics” by a number of online sources. Many blogs accompany a description of the athletes’ bodies along with various pictures of the women in different moments of play. One blog on the Inquisitr, while applauding the team’s abilities, also highlights their physical appearance:
The girls on the Dutch Field Hockey Team are working hard to win a gold medal at the 2012 London Olympic Games, but they’ve already achieved an unofficial, but highly coveted, award: the most beautiful team at the Olympics. Led by the beautiful Sophie Polkamp and Ellen Hoog, the team wowed field hockey fans yesterday with their orange and white uniforms, their athletic bodies, and yes, their talent.
If that quote is only slightly objectifying, just take a look at the small rant that was posted on Bar Stool Sports New York’s website this week:
How much do other butch Olympic chicks hate these little field hockey minxes? Like the swimmers with their huge shoulders and no tits have gotta be furious at how hot these girls are. The gymnasts with their huge thighs and their dicks tucked between their legs must be up in arms. Everyone is going home with gold medals, the only difference is the Dutch field hockey team doesn’t live like a social outcasts because they’re Olympic man-beasts. Head home and put on a dress and high heels and get free drinks at the bar and [expletive] by dudes as they please.
In a highly competitive field where women must struggle to be taken seriously and in which over 30 Olympic games currently bar women from competing, dialogue such as this is particularly harmful. Not only has the Dutch field hockey team been objectified, their athletic abilities overshadowed by discussion of their body parts, but the rant on Bar Stool Sports also belittles female figures that don’t fit the aesthetics of a Vogue magazine cover. These types of discussions also highlight the age-old idea that “real women” wear dresses and don’t ideally compete in any type of athletic competition.
Admittedly, this last blog rests on the more extreme end of the discussion, but still reveals commonly assumed understandings of femininity which pervade the commentary of the Olympic Games.
Photo Credit: Michelangelo-36