Just Another Misogynist Monday

[What's her name? How hard is it to print her name? Isn't this Journalism 101 -- get the subject's name?]

[What’s her name? How hard is it to print her name? Isn’t this Journalism 101 — get the subject’s name?]

I’m not watching the Olympics on NBC. I see more than enough of the events in my social media feed that I don’t need to turn on the television. This post is based on the observations and media content shared online, an indicator of just how much content there is about the Olympics, both corporate and personal.

And I am SO glad I haven’t bothered to watch based on the persistent anger in my timeline. NBC’s coverage has been a bunch of sexist and racist nonsense, framing female athletes not by their performance but by the men or white family members in their lives.

Like noting a particular athlete became a mother since her last competition — gee, how many of the male athletes became fathers? The narrative NBC built around each woman competitor sounds more like an observation of their performing femininity. “She’s turned in the best time and look, she can still clean house and wear a dress!” Obnoxious.

Or in the case of Simone Biles, a woman of color, about whom NBC’s Al Trautwig feels compelled to note she’s adopted. He cannot simply talk about Biles’ gymnastic performance or the family who came for her as her parents.

Other U.S. media covering the Olympics don’t do any better, like this ridiculous bullshit from The Chicago Tribune and USAToday. First this internationally-recognized athlete is not named but identified as the spouse of non-Olympic male athlete — then half-assed corrections revealing her name still ensure she’s pegged as a man’s wife. Are you kidding me with this?

[Because the Chicago Bears figure largely to the Olympics...]

[Because the Chicago Bears figure largely to the Olympics…]

The Washington Post criticized NBC’s coverage this weekend, but the columnist made her own sexist dig in doing so by calling it “paperback romance novel approach.” Can you say “internalized oppression”? This merely reinforces the marginalizing pink ghetto-ization of genre literature which for women offers subversive escape.

The rationalization for NBC’s craptastic framing as offered to WaPo:

Women don’t watch the Olympics for the live results; they watch it for the narrative. Or that’s the reasoning of NBC, anyway. As the network’s chief marketing officer John Miller explained:

“The people who watch the Olympics are not particularly sports fans,” he told Philly.com recently. “More women watch the games than men, and for the women, they’re less interested in the result and more interested in the journey. It’s sort of like the ultimate reality show and miniseries wrapped into one.”Women don’t watch the Olympics for the live results; they watch it for the narrative. Or that’s the reasoning of NBC, anyway. As the network’s chief marketing officer John Miller explained:

“The people who watch the Olympics are not particularly sports fans,” he told Philly.com recently. “More women watch the games than men, and for the women, they’re less interested in the result and more interested in the journey. It’s sort of like the ultimate reality show and miniseries wrapped into one.”

“Less interested in the result” — yeah, that’s why so many women in my timeline were holding their breath as they waited for gymnasts’ scores, or flailing on keyboards as swimmers sped toward the end of the pool. They do care, deeply and intensely, about the results of each sport.

But they don’t care for propping up men — oh, look, this swimmer co-parents with his med student wife, and wow, this guy was responsible for this woman’s swimming medal — at the expense of women.

We are not things. We are not your wallpaper or props. We are not accessories to men’s or white people’s lives. We don’t need your white and/or male validation to affirm our existence. We are competitors who work fucking hard to meet others as committed to sports as we are. We are viewers who appreciate the competitors’ respect and commitment to sport and want to see the field strive hard and the best win.

The fact that we have been born with a vagina or different skin color should be irrelevant to corporate content.

I’ll do a daily roundup later today. Get your sports talk out here in thread. ~R

26 replies
  1. RUKidding says:

    Sigh. USA TV coverage of the Olympics has always been terrible. Massive Suckitude.
    Firstly, it’s sexist to the core, and then there’s lashing of racist attitude on top of it. Finally but not least, it covers mainly only events where the USA has a chance of winning. You almost see nothing of events where the USA may not make a huge showing. I get it that’s what the PTB think US fans want, but every Olympics there’s loads of viewers complaining about the lack of comprehensive coverage and the over-focus on USA winners/medalists (not that I/we don’t love our champs, but there are other competitors there).
    Having the Internet makes it easier to watch the Olympics and catch those events you want to see, often without all the ridiculous bullsh*t “commentary” that goes along with it. I well remember all the comments – hurr hurr ha ha – about Misty May-Treanor and Kerry Walsh’s hot bodies, blah de blah. … and oh yeah, they had babies but look how hot… hurr hurr woo hoo. what a buncha idiots.
    The “human interest” stories are sometimes “ok,” but usually just so much crap. Plus, yes they always have to talk about the women having babies but rarely discuss the male atheletes’ family lives.
    Typically regressive, misogynistic USA tv/media. I chucked out my tv a long long time ago and have not missed it one iota. Worthless.

    • P J Evans says:

      I can’t remember the last time I watched the Olympics for anything. (Outside of gymnastics and diving, there really isn’t much to see in most events that isn’t already covered on TV.) The “minor” stuff could be more interesting, but in the US, it’s also invisible all the time.

  2. Rayne says:

    Argh! Still fuming about this. Even Twitter gets it right by boosting comedian/actor Leslie Jones’ Olympic tweets. Like here while she’s watching the U.S. men’s swim team, or here where she’s watching Gabby Douglas. Does this sound like a woman who needs fluffy pink narrative to enjoy sports? Does this look like she needs context apart from the athlete’s achievements?

    The reason Jones’ tweets are so popular with women is because she’s one of us — she’s sharing the same feelings women have about sports.

    EDIT: 12:34 pm EDT — I see NBC clued in and has now invited Leslie Jones to Rio as a commentator. Would be nice if they’d grasped why she’s so popular and switched up the rest of their commentary instead of filching from Twitter.

  3. Rayne says:

    RUKidding (12:13) — Somebody suggested CSPAN bid on commentary-free coverage of Olympic events next time. I’m all for that, let the events speak for themselves.

    And yes to more diverse coverage beyond U.S. alone. There were some other really important results, like

    Majlinda Kelmendi winning Kosovo’s first ever gold medal for judo;

    — Gymnast Dipa Karmakar qualifying for the finals — first ever for India.

    • RUKidding says:

      I’m not sure about CSPANN, either. There needs to be some basic coverage/commentary so we know what’s going on – who’s competing, etc. It is helpful if there’s someone discussing the “action” happening, plus maybe some intelligent commentary about how the event is judged. I would not always know what is being judged and how, and for some events, it’s not obvious.
      I’d just like to see them get away from the only USA athelete coverage, plus avoid most of the sappy “human interest” baloney. It’s nice to know a little bit about our atheetes, but these 10 min “stories” are boring and a waste of time. Refer people to the internet, where they can post youtubes and stuff.
      And yes, please let’s focus on some other nations’ atheletes, esp those who may break barriers of one sort or another.

  4. rosalind says:

    still amazed that each year Super Bowl advertisers present women as uninterested souls forced to watch the game by the menfolk. such a lazy stereotype, easily disproved, and yet year after year it persists.
    am reminded of Disney not having any Rey “Star Wars” action figures ready to go.
    the Old Guard cannot age out fast enough.

  5. bloopie2 says:

    “Somebody suggested CSPAN bid on commentary-free coverage of Olympic events next time. I’m all for that, let the events speak for themselves.” Unfortunately, no. I should watch judo for a few hours without knowing who anyone is? Maybe the judo aficionados would watch, but how many of us non-judo-aficionados would watch? If you want to increase the viewership for judo (is that a valid goal for Olympics coverage?) you need to give it some context. And how would I know that the gold for Kosovo is its first ever, or that India qualifying in gymnastics is a big deal? Who would watch teams parade into a stadium on opening night, for an hour, in silence? Perhaps it’s a bland factual commentary that would strike the balance. Or just get rid of all the sexism. Or learn from the NFL, which is a superior presenter of sporting events.

  6. Rayne says:

    P J Evans (12:31) — So ridiculous they can’t bother with streaming the less popular events online so as not to detract from their broadcast. Unacceptable.

    rosalind (1:03) — It’s not just the Old Guard per se. It’s the same hierarchical patriarchy at work across the entire entertainment industry that we see across the top of the Fortune 500. White, male, can’t be arsed to think about anybody who doesn’t look like them; they aren’t even aware enough to realize they are losing money.

    The Disney screw-up with the missing Rey figures? Disney made the excuses, but it was the toy manufacturer which claimed to Disney nobody buys female figures and didn’t create one.

    bloopie2 (1:47) & RUKidding (2:05) — Come on. You’re telling me you can’t tell who’s doing what when CSPAN covers Congress or book events? They give an intro to the event and the key persons, then use chyrons and scoreboards without yammering away at the same time. It’s the yammering during the event that’s superfucking annoying.

    • P J Evans says:

      I was just reading about some @#$%^&* who was tweeting advice to the cyclist who fell and injured her spine. After the fall. He’s being hammered.

    • bloopie2 says:

      Sorry, I misunderstood the reference to “no commentary” on CSPAN. I don’t watch that channel, what with having only about an hour a day available for TV or family on a typical workday. If they do the type of commentary you mention, then that would be good. More sports less talk on the Olympics, even for this non-sports person, sounds good.

  7. Rayne says:

    P J Evans (3:29) — Mansplaining. She haz it. Oy. What did the idiot think she was going to do, tweet back, “Thanks, man!”


    The Canadian women in my TL are going bonkers about the women’s basketball game — CAN vs. Serbia. Sounds like a hell of a game. I need to find a stream to play over VPN, stat.

  8. Peterr says:

    I’ve been enjoying the Rugby Sevens, with the women’s finals and third place matches about to start in 35 minutes or so. Great Britain v Canada for the bronze, and the Aussies v New Zealand for the gold.
    I’m not a rugby player at all, but I watch these powerful women and imagine some of my female friends who are former rugby players running down the field, crashing into bodies, pitching the ball sideways, . . .
    Rugby is not for the faint of heart.

  9. Wendy M. Grossman says:

    I agree with most of what you say, but in all fairness would point out that it’s actually relevant if a woman has been through a pregnancy, since it changes you physically. For runners in particular there’s said to be an aerobic effect that can be an advantage. Plus, a pregnancy means they had to take nearly a year away from training, a significant *disadvantage*. So coming back after a pregnancy actually is a reasonably impressive feat for an athlete and deserves mention.

    Of course, I’m not in the US, wouldn’t be watching the Olympics on NBC if I were, and in fact am generally avoiding the whole event. But still. (On the tennis tour, which is the only sport I watch, they’re into pointing out when the male players become fathers, because for a while there was a superstition that fathers didn’t win big events. They don’t say that now that Federer, Djokovic, and Murray have all won events since becoming dads.)


  10. person1597 says:

    “The quicker you succeed the better,” Kissinger told Argentina’s foreign minister in 1976, shortly after the coup took place.

    There’s your old guard…

    • bevin says:

      And he was talking about torturing and killing young people suspected of having liberal social views. He was talking about dropping pregnant women from helicopters into the south Atlantic, and beating men to death. And the disappearance of thousands, without charge or trial.
      And Argentina was merely the latest in a long list of countries in which, at the urging of the US government, dictators had seized power, killed thousands and welcomed US Corporations and economists to feast on the corpses.
      And Hillary Clinton endorses Kissinger and promises more of the same.

      • P J Evans says:

        um, what? Clinton didn’t endorse him. I don’t think she’s even going to listen to him. He’s what, about a hundred years old by now?

          • bloopie2 says:

            “Actually, she has said she considers Kissinger a trusted advisor.” That’s important to know, I guess. But when you think about, is it really? Those who know her already (which is much of the electorate) either like or dislike her on stuff like this and so it doesn’t matter—she’s not going to change her foreign policy one whit between now and January either on the basis of what some adviser says or on the basis of what the voters might think. And those who don’t know her, certainly will not be listening to the particular media outlets that tout this point—and if they did happen to do so, how many of them know what Kissinger did, or what he stands for? In the end, sad to say, it’s just one of those things that politicians say to come off as reaffirming to voters who might have some vague sense of people who were important in the past. Pablum, in other words. High level pablum, to be sure, but pablum nonetheless.
            Waste your brain time: When I composed that paragraph, Word wanted me to capitalize the word “pablum”. Turns out that “pablum” was, as I had vaguely recalled, a registered trademark for a bland children’s cereal, which went away about twenty years ago. So, it’s a highly appropriate term for much of the action (not the Trumpian action) this election season—feeding bland crap to unsuspecting little people.

  11. Rayne says:

    Wendy M. Grossman (6:29) — Most of the serious women competitors I know do not take time off for pregnancy. They continue to train throughout and have faster recovery post-pregnancy because they remained fit for the duration. Pregnancy may make women a little slower during the late stages of pregnancy due to increased body fluid and change in center of gravity, but it disappears rather quickly — faster with continued activity.

    bmaz (10:32) — I was too pissed off for Bangles’ happy, perky tune. LOL

  12. Wendy M. Grossman says:

    Rayne: OK. That’s not what you see in the tennis world, which like I say is the only sport I know. Clijsters quit because she wanted a baby; came back when kid was like two for a couple of years, then quit again. Davenport also came back post-baby but didn’t play once she knew she was pregnant (and quit for good when she found she was pregnant a second time). Azarenka discovered she was pregnant and quit for the duration. Testud retired when she realized she was pregnant. Etc.

    They may well have kept training, I can’t judge, but they certainly didn’t attempt to play professional tennis.


  13. Kim says:

    Its sexist and most of the response to it is sexist. Most people, regardless of sex, are not professional athletes an mot people, regardless of sex, enjoy a good narrative.

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