Thursday, August 11, 2016

Woman of the Olympics/Man of the House

Saturday night I was watching the Olympics with my wife. Why? Because sometimes I like to clear my busy social calendar and spend some quality time at home and you're not buying any of that, are you? 

We watched a swimming event, the 400 meter individual medley, where Katinka Hosszu of Hungary won gold in a world record breaking effort. 

The camera panned over from Hosszu to Shane Tusup, Katinka's husband and swim coach, and NBC sportscaster Dan Hicks, commenting on Hosszu's win, said, "And there's the man responsible." 

And Twitter lost its freaking mind!

I get that Tusip is Hosszu's coach, but you can make the connection without using the word RESPONSIBLE. You can't throw that word around.
Maggie Hendricks (@maggiehendricks) August 7, 2016

@DanHicksNBC thinks women aren't responsible for their own gold medals, credits husbands. #everydaysexism  
Rachel Clement (@RachelEClement) August 7, 2016

Anyone else uncomfortable with the amount of time Dan Hicks spent congratulating Hosszu's husband for HER amazing accomplishment?
Hayley Collins (@hayley_mo77) August 7, 2016

There's the man responsible for turning his wife into an entirely new swimmer...REALLY, NBC?
Charlotte Wilder (@TheWilderThings) August 7, 2016

After a woman just won a gold medal, announcer literally said, "And there's the man responsible" as camera showed her husband/coach.
Elizabeth Picciuto (@epicciuto) August 7, 2016

OK, so Hosszu (swimmer) shatters a world record by 2 seconds, and NBC's broadcaster gives the credit to her husband and coach. WTF? #Sexism
Tim Gibson (@timgibson) August 7, 2016

I was watching this event and I heard Dan Hicks say what he said. Now, maybe because I'm a guy, I was a little slow on the uptake but I didn't see the problem. At least, not right away.

The thing is that back at the Summer Olympics in London in 2012, Katinka Hosszu came up far short of her dreams. Her failure sent her into a downward spiral. She wouldn't even come out of her room. It was her husband who got her to step up, resume training and try again.

I've heard similar stories from male athletes who have been knocked down by defeat. And later they would credit their wives as being responsible for their renewed success through their spouses' love and support. And we don't bat an eye at that.

But reverse genders and give a guy the same level of acknowledgement, a guy who was both spouse and coach, and we're being disrespectful towards women. 

As I write this, I realize that part of the problem with Dan Hicks saying that was it was Dan Hicks saying that and not Katinka Hosszu herself. If she wants to give credit to her husband and coach, that's on her. The use of the word "responsible" is a bit charged in this situation as well. If Dan wanted to say that Shane Tusup "is the man who helped make this happen", that would've probably been a better way to phrase that. Indeed, Dan Hicks did comment the next day that he wished he had phrased what he said differently. Hicks noted that to tell Katinka Hosszu's story, you have to give appropriate credit to Shane Tusup. 

Yeah but there are ways to do that without diminishing the efforts of the person who actually did the work. 

As if that wasn't enough, rumors started going around that Hosszu may be doping. For the record, Hosszu has never tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs.

NBC and Dan Hicks weren't alone in being under fire for sexism. When Corey Cogdell-Unrein won bronze in the women's trap shooting event, here's how the Chicago Tribune tweeted about it. 

Wife of a Bear lineman wins a bronze medal today in Rio Olympics
Chicago Tribune (@chicagotribune) August 7, 2016

The actual article in the Tribune mentioned Corey's bronze medal but not what event. Most of the article focused on her husband, NFL lineman for the Chicago Bears,  Mitch Unrein. 

Here's what Twitter had to say about that. 

Her name is Corey Cogdell. Shove your no-so-subtle sexism where the sun don't shine @chicagotribune @CoreyCogdell  
Peter-Martin (PM) (@petermartindk) August 8, 2016

Husband of Olympic medal winner Corey Cogdell plays football for the Chicago Bears #FixedIt #Sexism
It's All Bad (@SaltPotatoes) August 8, 2016

God forbid you use her name for what SHE achieved. Corey Cogdell-Unrein. No excuse for that disrespect. #sexism
Laura Jo Crabtree (@laurajocrabtree) August 8, 2016

Everyday sexism at work. Congratulations Corey Cogdell.
Ed Skipper (@EdSkipper) August 8, 2016

It is likely that without the Bears connection, the Tribune probably wouldn't have covered Cogdell-Unrein's achievement at the Olympics at all. Not sure if that makes things better or worse.

I think that the last tweet from Ed Skipper summed up the problem very well: it's everyday sexism at work. It's not overt or obvious. It's just background noise and perhaps no one means anything negative about it. But it's still noise and it can be heard. It can be heard by young girls who are seeking to forge their own identities and their own destinies in a world that still seems to communicate the message that neither can be accomplished without a man in her life. For the longest time, men have been told to find a good woman in order to settle down. Women are told to find a good man in order to rise up. That is a message that is outdated and outmoded. And we need to be aware of that message, even if it's just in the background. And never moreso than when women are in the foreground doing amazing things. 

That's all from me for today. Another new post is coming up tomorrow. Until then, remember to be good to one another.

Oh, I forgot: here's what Olympic swimming champion Michael Phelps thinks about sexism.

So, like, cut it out, OK?  

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