Artistry and Misogyny, Or: Do Not Mess With Women AthletesPosted: September 11, 2012 | |
I’m BACK everyone!
It’s been well over a month, and I’m sorry I disappeared for so long. I have a long, perfectly reasonable explanation for why I disappeared, which can be summarized as:
1. Depression sucks
2. Pretending you don’t have depression is a STUPID-ASS IDEA. [Denial: it's not just a river in Egypt]
3. Going off your migraine pills because the side effects are terrible? Without talking to the Doctor first? WILL NOT END WELL.
This message has been brought to you by No Shit Sherlock University.
But I should be back much more regularly now. Because if there’s something the world needs, it’s more feminist pop-culture commentary.
There will be rants! There will be entire posts about BOOBS (I’m not even kidding: wait for Thursday). There will be book reviews! There will be fun stories! There will be more misandronists than the trolls know how to deal with!
AND THERE WILL BE A RANT ABOUT A FUCKNECK.
The Olympics are over. The Olympics are waaaay over.
But because I was off not-blogging, I still have a rant stored up. A BIG rant.
And it’s a bad idea to let rants fester, because eventually festering turn into gangrene. Then you’ve got to chop the whole brain off.
… I need my brain.
So let’s just get this over with, shall we?
Ladies, Gentlemen, People of All Genders: CHRIS CHASE IS AN ASSHAT.
Sorry for the language.
[Actually, I'm not sorry. The feminist blogosphere has been GREAT for my vocabulary. Asshat, fuckneck, douchenozzle... all the best insults]
Okay, backing up for a second. Who is Chris Chase, and how did he get on my bad side?
Chris Chase is a columnist for Yahoo! Sports. During the Olympics, he wrote a… thing – I hesitate to call it a column – called United States Leads China in “Real” Medal Count.
The impetus for the “column”? China was in the lead of the medal count – a catastrophe of international proportions. And of course, Chris Chase took it on himself to rectify this devastating situation.
I mean, yes, the Olympics are supposed to be about bringing people together and celebrating sports, but really, they’re about the USA beating everyone.
Come on, people, didn’t you get the memo?
How did Chris Chase rectify the horrifying problem of China’s medal lead? Simple! He posited that only certain sports really counted in the Olympics – the ones where victories are “objective and undeniable.” As opposed to “judged activities masquerading as sports.”
See, gymnastics and diving and judo and other “judged sports” aren’t “sports.” They’re just pretending! They’re “nonsense”! I kid you not, in a followup post, Chase explained that gymnastics is a “hobby”
Yeah, I feel no shame in calling him an asshat.
Discounting people’s athletic achievements so you can make the USA win the medal count? REALLY? That’s what we’re doing now? We’re just going to cut out all the sports where Americans don’t do well, and call them “hobbies”? Then we’re going to call the people who enjoy them “rubes”?
(again, actual quote. Rubes.)
Asshat who wrote a terrible column.
A terrible patronizing jingoistic column.
A terrible patronizing jingoistic MISOGYNISTIC column, at that.
An aside: you know, sometimes, I sympathize with non-feminists. I mean, not enough to agree with them, but I can sympathize. You’re reading a blog post about Chase, a guy, who has issues with gymnastics. Suddenly the writer yells “misogyny!” And you’re all “Uh, Chase doesn’t like gymnastics. It’s stupid, but what the hell does this have to do with misogyny? God! Feminists! So hysterical! Getting upset over the smallest things. Next thing you’ll know, they’ll be saying my cat is a misogynist.”
[by the way, your cat is definitely not a misogynist. We're cool]
LET’S unpack my misogyny claim. Because sadly, misogyny isn’t just people running around and screaming “WE HATE WOMEN.” (although that does happen).
In fact, a big part of misogyny is categorizing things associated with women as “lesser.”
And what do all the “judged sports” Chase discounts – with the exception of judo – have in common? They’re all “artistic” sports. “Artistic sports,” like dance, gymnastics, diving, rhythmic gymnastics, trampoline etc. tend – rightly or wrongly – to be seen as “women’s” sports. “Artsy” things are coded female in our society.
Thus, dismissing artistic sports as “not” sports? Coded misogyny.
I should note, too, that in the USA, women tend to do better in these particular sports than men. American women’s gymnastics is a much bigger presence in the Olympics than American men gymnastics (the men won one individual medal, the women won team gold and four individual medals). American female divers also tend to get higher on the podium than American male divers.
So when Chris Chase decides that all these artistic sports – gymnastics, diving, trampoline – aren’t real sports, that they aren’t worthy of being included in the medal count – he’s also playing into the idea that sports associated with women are less important.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that every single athlete Chris Chase names in the “fake” sports category is a woman. Every. Single. One. He doesn’t go after male gymnast Danell Levya (the bronze medalist for the all-around) or male synchonized divers Troy Dumais and Kristian Ipsen (who won bronze in synchronized diving). But he does make sure to list female gymnnasts Gabby Douglas, Jordyn Wieber and Victoria Komova as members of a “fake” sport. He takes particular glee in explaining how Gabby Douglas’ victory over Victoria Komova – and her earlier qualification over Jordyn Wieber – are invalid: “why did [Douglas] win a gold over Victoria Komova? Because some judges said she was 0.259 better? It wouldn’t be so insulting if we weren’t the rubes who accept it like it’s real. Gymnastics wins aren’t victories.”
Sorry, couldn’t help myself. *cough*
Chase proceeds to cite “real” victors – athletes who participate in “real” “objective” sports (I will not even begin to parse the ridiculousness of these labels): Michael Phelps. Usain Bolt. Both men. He does give a nod to Missy Franklin in at the end, but the contrast between the female-heavy “activities masquerading as sports” and male -heavy REAL sports is pretty obvious.
The reason I’m still so pissed comes down to gymnastics, honestly. Americans didn’t do that well in diving or in tumbling, so Chris Chase didn’t have to throw many of them under the bus for his little “real sports” equation. But in gymnastics? In gymnastics, he took five of the most widely-recognized, inspirational athletes of the Olympics and he said they were nothing.
To these women, who won team gold for the USA for the first time in 16 years, he said: you are not athletes. You, who have trained for forty hours a week for the past five years? You are not athletes. You, who can flip multiple times in the air? You’re just “masquerading.”
To Aly Raisman and Gabby Douglas, who won individual medals in beam, floor and all-around, he said: you are “masquerading” as athletes. Gabby Douglas, the first African-American winner of the all-around gold medal?
She’s not an athlete.
And yeah, I think taking the achievements of five women and pretending they don’t count – making a POINT of explaining why they don’t count (since the women’s gymnastics team are the only “fake” athletes Chase names and discusses for any length of time) for no other reason than for the USA to pull ahead in the medal count – damn straight, I think that’s misogyny.
Chase concedes that “Gabby Douglas winning the women’s all-around was one of the most memorable moments of the first week” but damn, why are we even WATCHING this girl? Why aren’t we paying attention to REAL sports like swimming and track? If we only had MANLY sports, we would be able to beat China on the real, testosterone-filled field of battle, instead of having to fight them in all these silly, feminine, artsy “hobbies.”
The good news? I don’t really need to take down Chase’s post. At this point, I’m just ranting into thin air.
Because the USA did win the medal count. And they won it because of their female athletes, not in spite of them.
American women won 29 gold medals to the men’s 17, and 58 overall medals to the men’s 45. Thus, it was thanks in large part to the women that the USA won the medal count.
The extent to which I care who wins the medal count is pretty minimal. But – and forgive me for being annoying patriotic right now – the USA winning the medal count thanks to the women is a fitting ending to the story, don’t you think?
Gymnastics, diving and trampoline are all “real” sports.
Jordyn Wieber, McKayla Maroney, Ali Raisman, Gabby Douglas and Kayla Ross? All “real” athletes.
Chris Chase? “Real” Asshat.
And don’t mess with female athletes. They’re the reason America did so well at the Olympics.
(Hurrah for Title IX)
Rant over. Nits picked. Festering done. Gangrene avoided. Soap-box used.
Up Next! The BOOBS post!