British Olympic weightlifter Zoe Smith, 18 was in a documentary on BBC, “Girl Power – Going For Gold.” Some Twitter commentators said Smith was more or less too masculine, should be more feminine in order to attract a man and that she should ‘go make her boyfriend a sandwich.’ Smith fired back on her blog, confronting a particular commentator (who apparently couldn’t handle the fight because the username is now disabled) and is being hailed for her smart and strong retort.
“We, as any women with an ounce of self-confidence would, prefer our men to be confident enough in themselves to not feel emasculated by the fact that we aren’t weak and feeble.”
The negative comments are a good example of hostile sexism. Hostile sexism is the negative treatment of women because they do not fulfill traditional, feminine gender roles (which is benevolent sexism and this keeps women subservient in traditional feminine gender roles). How to connect this to marriage? Well, marriage is a typical path for women to fulfill traditional feminine gender roles. Exchanges like in this article are an example of how those roles effect other areas women are engaged in, as evidenced in the sexual comments directed at Smith. It’s not necessarily sexism in the Olympics. The strong presence of women in the Olympics encourages lingering sexism in our communities to surface. It is an unfortunate event, but on a positive note it does highlight we, indeed, do not live in a post-feminist society and tells us we still have important work to do.
Women’s weightlifting was introduced at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. Smith went on to break the British record in the 58kg competition by lifting twice her weight (211kg), but finished 12th out of 19 overall.
To read the article from Feministing.com and many more about sexism in the Olympics click here.