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Social Media Highlights the role of Sexism in Olympics Coverage

These and many other awkward comments by Olympics announcers — defining female athletes by their relationships to men, commenting on their appearances or stereotyping their behaviour

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Representative set of the Olympic medals. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

August 22, 2016: “They might as well be standing in the middle of a mall,” said an NBC announcer. The comment was made when the U.S. women’s gymnastics team was photographed laughing and talking after they blew away the competition in a qualifying round at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Commentator Al Trautwig said 24-year-old Dutch gymnast Sanne Wevers, who was writing down her score after an event, looked like she was scribbling an entry in her diary.

Announcer Dan Hicks gave the credit for Hungarian swimmer Katinka Hosszu’s gold medal to her husband and coach, calling him “the guy responsible.”

The Chicago Tribune identified bronze medal winner Corey Cogdell-Unrein in a headline as “wife of a Bears lineman,” without mentioning her name or her event, trap-shooting.

A BBC announcer, John Inverness, called a women’s judo match a “catfight” and the next day, interviewing British tennis player Andy Murray about his win, had to be reminded about the achievements of U.S. tennis players Venus and Serena Williams, each of whom has won four Olympic gold medals.

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During gymnastics coverage, two male Fox News announcers devoted several minutes of conversation to the female athletes’ makeup choices. Commentator Bo Dietl said: “When you see an athlete, why should I have to look at some chick’s zits or some guy’s zits on his face? Why not a little blush on her lips, and cover those zits? I like to see a person who wins that gold medal go up there and look beautiful.”

These and many other awkward comments by Olympics announcers- defining female athletes by their relationships to men, commenting on their appearances or stereotyping their behaviour — have made the 2016 Summer Games in Rio the centre of a heated conversation about how female athletes are treated by the media.

Equal time, unequal treatment

The Olympic Games are one of the few times women’s athletics get equal coverage with men’s on television. In 2012, the Games in London were the first to feature women competing in every sport, including boxing.

A 2015 study from the University of Southern California found that Los Angeles broadcast affiliates spent only 3.2 percent of their airtime on women’s sports, a number that actually declined from 5 percent in 1989.

University of Southern California. Image source: Wikimedia Commons
University of Southern California. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

The study found that the sports network ESPN has spent only 2 percent of its time on women sports, a rate that has not changed in 26 years.

But the Olympics are far more balanced: a team of researchers found that 58 percent of the first half of the Olympics telecast from Rio featured female athletes. Yet among journalists covering the Games, only 21 percent are female.

So perhaps it’s understandable that sportscasters and reporters are being criticised for how they talk about women — they have had very little practice, and these Games seem to be the first in which gender equality in sports coverage has become a major topic.

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A study from Cambridge University, released just prior to the beginning of the Rio Olympics, looked at more than 160 million words from news articles, social media, internet forums and elsewhere, analysing the words used to describe men and women in association with Olympic sports.

Men were found to be more often described as “great,” “strong” and “fastest.” Women, however, were most often described in terms that had nothing to do with their athletic ability: “aged,” “older,” “pregnant,” “married.”

Los Angeles-based market researcher Rebecca Brooks says such differentiations have existed for decades.

“I would argue that sexism in Olympics coverage is nothing new,” Brooks says. “Many of the broadcasters covering the Rio Olympics are the same reporters who have covered the events in past decades.”

Why, then, has sexist language in Olympic coverage become an issue this year?

Social media may be the answer, according to experts.

Social media feedback

“Today, the feedback loop for any on-camera performer is instantaneous via Twitter and Facebook and Snapshot,” says James Furrier, a journalist who teaches at Metropolitan State University in Denver, Colorado.

“Now we have MP3 files and YouTube and social media, weapons brandished by a ready-and-willing vast population of analysts, critics, pundits and trolls, all taking their chops whenever a broadcaster fluffs (makes an error),” Furrier says.

Not only is the audience able to respond quickly on social media, says A.J. Marsden, assistant professor of psychology at Beacon College in Leesburg, Florida, “millennials are a little more keen to pick up on these things.”

“A number of people who have been accused of sexist statements are a little bit older; they’re not used to being called out on this stuff. I don’t think they’re being intentionally sexist,” Marsden says.

She also notes that sexism in Olympics coverage goes both ways.

NBC morning host Hoda Kotb and correspondent Jenna Bush Hager smoothed coconut oil across the torso of Congolese athlete Pita Taufatofua on live television the day after the Olympics’ opening ceremony.

And Cosmopolitan magazine recently ran an article called “36 Summer Olympic Bulges That Deserve Gold,” featuring photos of male Olympic athletes wearing tight briefs. Sharp-eyed readers pointed out on social media that just two years earlier, Cosmopolitan had published an article titled “Men Who Objectify Women Are Effing Horrible.”

Journalist Lindy West, who writes about gender equality and body image, wrote a column for Britain’s The Guardian newspaper in which she offered some tips to journalists writing about female athletes.

“Don’t spend more time discussing female athletes’ makeup, hairdos, very small shorts, hijabs, bitchy resting faces, voice pitch, thigh circumference, marital status and age than you spend analysing the incredible feats of strength and skill they have honed over a lifetime of superhuman discipline and restraint.”

Instead, she said, journalists should write about female athletes “the way you write about male athletes — i.e., without mentioning their gender except maybe in the name of the sport.”

Kris Macomber, a sociology professor at Meredith College in Raleigh, North Carolina, thinks the increased discussion about the way we describe athletes during the competition will improve accountability over time.

Progress

“Social media gives a voice to many who would otherwise be kept out of the conversation. Historically, voices of dissent and critique were marginalised and silenced,” Macomber says. “But today, with the internet and Twitter and the like, you can no longer silence people.

“When we see unfairness, we want to voice our dissent and now we have the means and platform to do so,” she adds.

Meanwhile, not all the news about Olympics coverage is bad. Female athletes are speaking up for themselves.

Nineteen-year-old U.S. gymnast Simone Biles told Sporting News that her considerable accomplishments — four gold medals and a bronze — should not be measured in relation to the accomplishments of male athletes.

“I’m not the next Usain Bolt or Michael Phelps,” she said. “I’m the first Simone Biles.”

As for how this year’s Rio Games will be remembered, the Cambridge experts who studied words associated with male and female Olympians will have some input. They plan to release an analysis of this year’s Olympics coverage in the next few weeks. (VOA)

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Checkout Ten Must-Read Books For Women

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Must reads for a woman.
Must reads for a woman. Pixabay

Nothing in this world can give you the feeling which books do. Some stories, some word just touch your heart and end up giving you the greatest lessons of life. Books can be inspiring at times, and help you make the toughest decisions of life. Below are ten must-read books for women:

  1. A Thousand Splendid Suns

The book, “A Thousand Splendid Suns” by Khaled Hosseini, who has also authored ‘Kite Runner’ revolves around the lives of two women, Mariam and Laila. The beautiful friendship of these two and the things they go through is mesmerizing. The book’s subtlety puts it under the category of must-read books for women.

2. Millennium Series by Stieg Larsson

The Millennium series has three books- “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”, “The Girl who kicked the Hornet’s Nest” and “The Girl who Played with Fire”. The lead character of the series, Lisabeth Salander, is a confident and bold woman who never follows the old norms of the society and leads her life differently. Her rebellious nature can inspire the girls out there to stand for themselves.

3.  Pride And Prejudice

Must-Reads for women
Pride and Prejudice. Wikimedia.

The classic by Jane Austen teaches you to distinguish between the essential and the superficial. It makes you come across a way of looking at women, which is not judgmental. It teaches you to stand up for righteousness. It is definitely ones of the must-read books for women.

4. The Book Thief

Th novel, “The Book Thief” by the Australian author Markus Zusak gives out the inspiring message that no matter what the situation is, women can come out of it strongly on their own.

5. How To Be A Bawse

The Book, “How to be a Bawse”, by the Canadian YouTuber Lily Singh is a beautiful guide on tackling tough situations in life, supported by the examples of real-life situations. Lily’s classy and sassy video style has already been loved by a lot of women out there.

6. The Hunger Games Trilogy

Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games Trilogy is one of the must-read books for women out there as the book’s lead character Katniss, makes you feel proud of being a girl. Her character motivates you to be your own hero.

7. Daughter By Court Order

“Daughter By Court Order”, by Ratna revolves around the story of a woman who has been disowned by her own family. The woman is fighting against money, power, deceit, and for her right to be recognized as a daughter. She has to handle everything on her own.

8. To Kill A Mocking Bird

The book is written by Harper Lee and is an all-time classic. The book revolves around a six-year-old protagonist who is a feminist and refuses to accept the societal norms and always challenges them.

9. The Diary Of A Young Girl

Must-Read Books For Women
The Diary Of A Young Girl. Wikimedia.

The novel by Anne Frank is set during the time of Nazi invading Netherlands. Anne Frank shares her feelings with her diary while she was in hiding for two years. The emotions and struggles make it one of the must-read books for women.

10. The Palace of Illusions

The book Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni shows the epic Mahabharata, through Draupadi’s eyes. Her problems and shortcomings are shown, along with the fact that how ego can lead to a battle.

by Megha Acharya of NewsGram. She can be reached at @ImMeghaacharya

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4 Zodiac Signs Women Fall For Easily

These are the zodiac signs which all women are attracted and fall for easily. All these men are quite the catch. Read to Find out more.

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Zodiac Signs Women Fall For Easily
Astrology. Pixabay

Oct 08, 2017: Haven’t you sometimes thought that there are some guys you just instantly fall for? Well, it is not your fault honestly, it is just their stars that make you fall for them. Astrology is known to have defined a person’s interests, personality likes and dislikes and can even predict the unknown future. Here is a list of the Zodiac signs that are bound to promptly score points with the ladies. These are the zodiac signs women fall for easily. If you are a guy and belong to any of the below-given zodiac signs, you should consider yourself lucky and extremely gifted.

Here’s the list of the Zodiac Signs: 

Leo

Leo men are mostly known for their masculinity. Born between July 23 and August 22, they are the one who will never back down, regardless of the situation. It’s actually their strength and their determination that makes grabs the attention of the ladies. The Lion slowly calms down, puts aside his ego. They are very warm and cordial, are never scared of approaching a girl and most important they are extremely passionate and romantic.

Gemini

Gemini men have a very gentle nature. They have the power to understand both the genders. Born between May 21 and June 20, they know very well to use all their qualities to their advantage. Women swoon over their adoring and compassionate personality. The Gemini man is quite the seducer and it is difficult to keep your guard against him.

Capricorn

Capricorn men are ambitious and are always aiming to get the best. A sense of warmth and outgoingness is always around him. He understands his priorities well and keeps up his commitment. Women love such reliable men. Having their birthdays between December 22 and January 19, they are bound to make their to a woman’s heart by their mesmerizing talks. Another exciting fact about them, they are extremely good looking.

Libra 

A Libra man is what every woman wants. He is quite the catch. Being shy in nature, he has a unique aura around which separates him from other men and intrigues the women around him. He is the perfect gentleman. A Libra man will treat with so much love and care by showing romantic gestures. He is the combination of romantic and intellectual. The intellectual talks with him will brighten your day; he will make you never want to fall out of love. Being born between September 23 and October 22, he is the perfect partner for any woman.

Prepared by Saloni Hindocha of Newsgram

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Women’s sports coverage encounters subtle sexism: Study

It has been found that 95 percent of anchors, co-anchors and analysts, analysing the sports coverage were male

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Women's sports and the surrounding sexism
Women's sports. Pixabay
  • A subtler sexism frames the TV broadcasts of women in sports, according to a recent study
  • L.A.-based network affiliates devote only 3.2 percent of airtime to women’s sports on news broadcasts
  • The researchers have been constant in updating their findings roughly every five years

Washington D.C. [USA], Sep 19, 2017: A recent study stated that a subtler sexism has now made it to the Newsrooms framing the TV broadcast of women in sports.

The ongoing, decades-long study by the University of Southern California researchers suggests, that even if the mainstream broadcast coverage now treats the sports played by women a little more seriously, a major part of it, mostly respectful coverage still has to face the relegation to the sideline.

Only 3.2 percent of airtime, according to the research team, was devoted to women’s sports on news broadcasts, by the L.A.-based network affiliates, witnessing a degradation of 5 percent from 1989, which was the first year of the study. ESPN’s SportsCenter, on the other hand, only stands worse, devoting 2 percent of the airtime to women’s sports, same as it was in 1999 when the study began tracking the show.

“When compared to the start of the study, women used to be framed in ways that were overtly sexist. Now the sexism is subtler,” said lead author Michela Musto. “It seems at first that it’s respectful, but if you compare the framing with men’s sports, women are talked about in a much more boring way. There is no joking or complimenting. Those kinds of descriptors are missing from women’s sports.”

The researchers have been constant in updating their findings roughly every five years, in 1993, 1999, 2004, 2009 and 2014, to be exact. It has been planned to start the research later this year, for it to be updated in 2018.

The researchers, in a manner similar to the previous cycles of the study, analyzed three two-week segments of TV sports news coverage on three Los Angeles network affiliates, and on ESPN’s SportsCenter. The coverage was then coded across 20 distinct categories, which included gender, segment length, type of sport, competitive level of sport, and production value.

Much of the disparity may owe to the little airtime devoted to each individual woman’s story on SportsCenter. Sports stories revolving around women averaged 77 seconds, approximately 50 percent shorter than men’s stories, however, better than the 44 seconds allotted to them on local affiliates.

The overall respectful coverage may be the advancement from the time when Morganna the Kissing Bandit was one of the few women featured on the local sports report. But the refined tone of this coverage carried a brand of chauvinism, of it own. The researchers gave it the name “gender bland”, a programming that confronts the treatment of a mandatory “set aside.”

In “gender-bland” programming, the athletic achievements of women are depicted as “lackluster” and “uninspired.” That is, unless they approve to the image of caring teammates or partners and spouses, for instance, the 2016 Olympic trap-shooter medalist Corey Cogdell-Unrein’s portrayal in mainstream media as “the wife of a Chicago Bears linebacker.”

Also readWhere Girls and Women are missing out in Sports? Or is it simple Gender Discrimination

A surge of female athletes since the 1970s, when Title IX, which prohibited discrimination based on gender in education for athletics became a law, makes the sparse coverage of women’s sports out of step, the researchers noted.

Around 3.1 million girls participate in high school sports today, compared to 4.4 million boys; in a stark contrast to the situation 45 years ago, when only 294,000 girls played sports in high school, and less than 39,000 played in college.

There are but few women in sports media industry that may play a role in influencing the coverage decisions, noted the researchers. It has been found that 95 percent of anchors, co-anchors and analysts analysing the sports coverage were male. The data shows resemblance to the other findings stating that 90.1 percent of sports print editors happen to be male.

If a woman in the sports broadcast industry happens to scale heights, as the case of Samantha Ponder, a sideline reporter who replaced Chris Berman as host of ESPN’s featured NFL program, Sunday NFL Countdown, this August, it still makes big news.

“I do believe that part of the move toward greater respect and equity for women’s sports in the media will involve getting more women into newspaper sports desks, radio and TV commentary,” said senior author Michael Messner.

“However, I also think that employers, when they hire new people, should seek to hire reporters and commentators — women or men — who really care about women’s sports, who can and will express genuine enthusiasm, rather than gender-bland sexism, when they report on women’s sports,” he added.

The study has been published in the journal Gender & Society.

prepared by Samiksha Goel of NewsGram. Twitter @goel_samiksha