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Olympics Sexism Revealed: The Gold, Silver And Bronze Of Media Sexism At Rio Have Been Awarded

There are no prizes here.

22/08/2016 17:29 | Updated 23 August 2016

British sport may have scaled to new heights at the 2016 Olympic Games, but according to a new report it’s our media and commentators who will be winning gold for sexism in their coverage of Rio. 

Equality group The Fawcett Society has even awarded gold, silver and bronze medals to the most sexist moments witnessed in Rio. 

The group says female athletes have faced having their achievements forgotten, being referred to in relation to their less successful male peers and partners, and infantilised. 

“We’ve had some fun on social media with the #SexistOlympics but Fawcett’s medal winners are not the kind to be celebrated,” the society said. 

Ian MacNicol via Getty Images
Team GB celebrates after winning a penalty shoot out during the Women's Hockey final. Women won 39% of Team GB's medals at Rio.

Helen Skelton’s constant outfit appraisal took the gold in Fawcett’s medal awards, while the moment John Inverdale forgot women’s tennis is actually a sport received the silver. Bronze went to NBC for attributing Hungarian swimmer and world record breaker Katinka Hosszú’s success to her husband.

“Despite 39% of Team GB medal-winners being women, it is still an arena in which women are treated as second-class competitors,” Fawcett’s chief executive Sam Smethers said. 

Here is The Huffington Post UK’s own list of the nine most sexist moments at Rio: 

1. Nail Polish

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Katie Ledecky won three golds and one silver medal but it was her nail polish that NBC was more interested in.

A major US broadcaster was criticised for focusing on an Olympic swimmer’s nail polish instead of her four medals.

NBC’s San Fransisco bureau came under fire for angling a piece on star swimmer Katie Ledecky’s three gold and one silver medal wins on how she kept her nail polish “chip free”.

The organisation posted a tweet, later deleted, linking to an article on how Ledecky was showing off her US patriotism by sporting a red and blue manicure.

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NBC's deleted tweet on Katie Ledecky’s nail polish.

But the article itself prompted scorn from readers, who said the headline seemed to hail from the “1950s” and said the issue of Ledecky’s nails “did not matter”.

NBC deleted the tweet soonafter and published a celebratory post spurring Ledecky on in her remaining race in the women’s 800m freestyle at 12:30 BST on Thursday.

2. Doubly Unlucky Ledecky

Martin Meissner/AP
Winner: Katie Ledecky checks her time during a women's 800-meter freestyle heat

The US swimming star faced multiple instances of media sexism, another of which saw her gold-winning world-record performance in the women’s 800 freestyle relegated to below news of Michael Phelps’ silver.

The Eagle’s coverage was tipped by law professor Nancy Leong, whose reaction post went viral, as “a metaphor for basically the entire world”. 

In response, the Colorado-based publication’s editor Kelly Brown told BuzzFeed: “When I first saw it I wondered why it was that way, as well. Could it have been better? Yes.

“But I don’t think it’s as egregious as people are saying, especially because [Leong] cropped out the key part of it.”

3. Woman Wears Dress

Mike Egerton/PA Wire
Helen Skelton presents the BBC's swimming coverage from the at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium on the fourth day of the Rio Olympic Games.

BBC presenter Helen Skelton cwas criticised by some social media users for wearing an “inappropriate” dress.

She was also splashed on the front page of the Daily Mail with a headline that read: “It’s hotting up in Rio.. and that’s just the presenters!”

Many people seemed to forget that it is a common occurrence for men and women to wear shorter or less clothing in warmer weather.

4. Judo Stars’ Spar Becomes ‘Catfight’

Markus Schreiber/AP
Kosovo's Majlinda Kelmendi won her country's first ever gold medal.

Majlinda Kelmendi should have made the headlines for becoming Kosovo’s first ever Olympic medalist - with a gold one to boot.

But her triumph in the 52kg event against Italy’s Odette Giuffrid was marred by a BBC commentator describing the contest as a “catfight”.

5. Wife Of Famous Man

Harry How via Getty Images
'Wife of a footballer': US trap shooter, Corey Cogdell-Unrein.

Corey Cogdell-Unrein also had her bronze medal win in the women’s trap shooting dismissed by some news organisations.

The Chicago Tribute referred to her in headlines only as the wife of a famous American football linesman.

”You spelt ‘3-time Olympian Corey Cogdell-Unrein wins second bronze medal today in Rio Olympics’ wrong,” wrote one angry Twitter user.

The paper later issued a statement, acknowledging it focused “too hard on trying to emphasise the local connection”, but failing to win over all its critics as the note contained neither an apology or the word ‘sorry’.

6. Mansplaining Reached A New Low

AFP via Getty Images
Netherlands' Annemiek Van Vleuten was seriously injured after falling from her bike in the women's road cycling race.

A Twitter user managed to rile the masses by taking it upon himself to explain cycling to none other than an Olympic cyclist

Martin Betancourt gave Dutch cyclist Annemiek van Vleuten a 140 character lesson in cycling after the 33-year-old came off her bike during a sharp turn in the road race.

She was left hospitalised with severe concussion and three small fractures in her lower back. 

7. Celebrations Turn Sour 

Mike Blake / Reuters

NBC was again accused of sexism during its coverage of women’s gymnastics on Sunday, when an unidentified commentator said Team USA members looked like they “might as well be standing in the middle of a mall”.

The moment came when they were pictured celebrating following their utter annihilation of the competition during the qualifying round.

8. ‘Hero’ Murray Makes A Mighty Correction

Owen Humphreys/PA Wire
Andy Murray set John Inverdale straight on women's tennis also being a sport.

Andy Murray was quick to set John Inverdale straight when the presenter seemed to forget that women’s achievements in tennis also count.

During his post-match interview with Murray after the champion’s men’s singles victory at the Olympics, Inverdale remarked that Murray was the first person to win two tennis golds in the sport.

But Murray reminded him: “Venus and Serena have won about four each.”

The remark earned him plaudits from many, including JK Rowling and Nicola Sturgeon, while MP Jess Phillips awarded Murray the “gold medal for feminism in the men’s events”. 

9. Power-Couple Relegated To Stereotypes

Eric Gaillard / Reuters
'What’s for tea?': Couple Laura Trott and Jason Kenny celebrate in Rio

Some Olympics viewers said they expected the brunt of sexism at Rio to have ended by the competition’s third week. But they were unpleasantly surprised at a BBC commentator’s quip minutes on Wednesday night, when Jason Kenny and Laura Trott both received gold medals.

The couple, who are engaged to be married, have won five Olympic titles at Rio - which means if the pair were a country they would be 13th in the Olympic medal table.

But after Kenny won gold in a dramatic keirin event pundit Chris Boardman suggested he might be asking Trott “what’s for tea?” as the couple hugged.

The comment earned scorn from social media users, including Sky News’ Harriet Hadfield who wrote “what the hell” in a post alongside Boardman’s quote.

 

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