Sexism in the News

I never intended to get political on this blog. I didn’t mean for it to become a platform for me to vent my opinions. It was meant to be a space for me to share thoughts, experiences and daily life. Nothing PR related, no repostings of things you could easily find yourself on the Huffington Post or YouTube. But reading Laurie’s self-professed rants and rambles blogΒ (you should too, it’s damn good) has poked me into saying things.

I’m a regular reader of News24 (I know, this isn’t a good start) and this morning, while sipping my R18 coffee a headline caught my eye under Most Read. ‘Sexiest Hurdler Ever‘ (video link included) yelled the side bar. And I knew, without a doubt, it was a woman that they were referring to. The text under the video reads:

Michelle Jenneke is sexy as hell as she performs her pre-race dance before running to victory in her 110m hurdles event at the Junior World Championship.

And the camera stays trained on Michelle as she jumps up and down and does a little wiggle before taking her position to race. It’s hard for me to find the words to express how I feel about this. To say it’s sexist will undoubtedly get a bunch of guys and gals telling me I’m being oversensitive. But I don’t think I am.

Had a guy done this, would we have had the same header and video? Why do we have to turn her pre-run warm up into something sexual? Is the dance itself inherently sexual (I’d argue not) or is it the fact that it’s a chick in a barely-there running gear what makes it sexual? Even more problematic for me is the fact that she WON the race isn’t the main point of the link, it’s an aside. The main point is that she’s “sexy as hell” and “oh yeah, she can jump hurdles too”. Our focus is taken away from her as an athlete performing as her job/career and instead place on her sexuality.

And it’s not only on News24 that her ‘sexiness’ is the point of a report instead of her winning athletic abilities.

When are we going to have a mindshift away from so easily linking women to their sexuality/desirability? When will it be ok for a woman/chick/girl/gal/lass to do a little wiggle as part of her routinesΒ without it necessarily being sexual?

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