USA’s Sada Jacobson (R) competes against France’s Leonore Perrus during the women’s team sabre bronze medal match France vs. USA on August 14, 2008 at the Fencing Hall of National Convention center, as part of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. (JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
We’ve been discussing the astonishingly sexualised uniforms for female athletes over at Hoyden About Town, as have many other blogs. As Lauredhel said:
No. It’s not about faster, higher, stronger. Women in sports are promoted as sexualised bodies for ogling; men are promoted as performers.
This is also something I’ve posted about before, showing how track uniforms were virtually identical for men and women in the 80s compared to the enormous disparities now.
It’s also interesting to note that in one of the very few summer sports where streamlining actually is crucial to performance, the mens and women’s swimming costumes are almost the same (much to the distress of this eejit in The Times bemoaning how female swimmers’ breasts are compressed by these costumes so that they don’t give him the titillation to which he feels entitled). His ridiculous column is a fine example of the major display of sexism at the Olympics – the media commentators who are so focussed on how the female competitors look that they don’t actually pay proper attention to the competition and the phenomenal performances. Indeed, as far as women’s competitions go, unless the athletes show skin or wear a form-fitting uniform they receive hardly any TV coverage at all.
At least the Indians successfully argued that the beach volleyball regulation bikinis (or even the notoriously sand-trapping alternate regulation one-piece) were culturally inappropriate and their women’s beach volleyball team are competing in generous shorts and T-shirts. But for other competitors where the old men with authority in their home country don’t object to their bodies being on display, refusing to wear the regulation bikini means being dropped from the squad. This is not just an issue for elite athletes – more and more local and school competitions are requiring participants to wear uniforms similar to those worn by the elite competitors, much to some women’s dismay. A Senate Enquiry in 2006 found that sexualised uniforms were turning girls off sport at younger and younger ages, a phenomenon which will have major effects on women’s health and physical confidence.
Anyway, have a few more pictures of fiercely competitive women:
Gold medallist Yang Xiuli of China bites her medal during the medal ceremony of the women’s -78 kg judo event at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, August 14, 2008. (REUTERS/Kim Kyung-hoon)
Johana Gomez of Venezuela pitches against Taiwan during their softball game at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games August 14, 2008. (REUTERS/Danny Moloshok)
A drop of blood falls from the forehead of Ange Mercie Jean Baptiste of Haiti during her women’s -57kg preliminary judo match with Yurisleydis Lupetey of Cuba at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, August 11, 2008. (REUTERS/Dylan Martinez)