On Friday, the San Jose Mercury News celebrated Simone Manuel’s historic and groundbreaking gold medal in swimming in the only way that made sense for this ceaseless mess of nonsense and fuckery: to sideline her to Michael Phelps, not even mention her by name, and only include her as “African-American.”
That headline couldn’t have more Trumpy shades if the newsroom looked like this:
The paper has since apologized. Of course. And that’s only one example of a woman’s history-making Olympic performance being pushed aside for Michael Phelps this week.
This headline is a metaphor for basically the entire world. pic.twitter.com/5WpQa04N0o— Nancy Leong (@nancyleong) August 14, 2016
Of course, major outlet Olympic coverage isn’t limited to reducing women to a descriptor or a subhead. They are also reducing women to their true callings in life: wifeycakes!
When China’s He Zi won her silver medal for diving, her boyfriend, a bronze-medal diver, proposed to her. The cynic in me feels a little iffy on the fact that he took her moment, BUT WHATEVER, she was happy about it, it’s sweet. Then BBC had to take something cute and smother it in nonsense sauce.
“Chinese diver He Zi had just received a silver medal for the women’s three-metre springboard at the Rio Olympics on Sunday.
But she ended up with an even bigger prize when her boyfriend Qin Xai, in front of a global TV audience, went down on one knee.
Luckily for Qin, who himself won bronze in the men’s three-metre synchronised springboard last week, He Zi said yes.”
Silver medal at the Olympics after training your whole life to fulfill this exact dream? Cool, I guess. BUT GIRL, YOU’RE ENGAGED NOW AND THAT’S WHAT IS MOST IMPORTANT. Thank you, BBC, for making that determination for Zi. You’re real gems.
However, in both cases, at least the women were included at all. From The Guardian:
[The BBC’s John] Inverdale, interviewing Murray after he defeated Argentina’s Juan Martin Del Potro to claim his second Olympic gold, said: “You’re the first person ever to win two Olympic tennis gold medals. That’s an extraordinary feat, isn’t it?”
But the Scot shot back: “Well, to defend the singles title … I think Venus and Serena [Williams] have won about four each but hadn’t defended a singles title before.”
Vox’s Todd VanDerWerff has a great piece on why exactly this coverage is so awful. NBC is so married to this idea that no one watches the Olympics for sport and glory, only for the soap opera-like stories of overcoming the odds. Plus, they’ve already gone on record as saying women don’t like sports, so by appealing to the idea of woman as wife, woman as mother, woman as forgotten child of unfit parents, they’re playing into that narrative. It’s stupid. And it’s not working. Because it’s 2016. And we see through this shit now.
When people complain about PC culture ruining everything, what they’re really complaining about is having to actually put effort into changing the way they write about their fellow human beings by portraying them as actual human beings—not concepts, not in relation to white males, not as catty females jealous of team success, not as black women being American wrong, not as their appearance.