Bias in Olympic Coverage

16 Aug

The Olympics are a perfect place to sit back and watch how (unconscious?) bias filters in to reporting.

Consider who is shown on the podium and who is not.

Consider who is getting airtime and who is not.

Consider how we talk about athletes, and who we hear about (and who we don’t).

Consider who gets heat, for what, and why – and who gets away with it.

I’m talking specifically about gender and race.

Take Gabby Douglas for instance. Godal medal in gymnastics – twice. And she has been called out (among other things) for not putting her hand on her heart during the anthem, and Michael Phelps can laugh during the same anthem without a peep. Hmmm…..

She is Black, and she is female.

It’s a perfect example of the unequal standards and scrutiny that people of colour and females still face (and if you are Black and female… God help you!).

This (and many other examples) are attempts to disregard, undermine, discredit and otherwise take away from the ways we contribute to society. And it goes all the way up to the top! (I’ll write about how Hilary Clinton is treated by the media another day.)

It may be unconscious, but it’s still wrong and it has to stop.

Here is a spoof article about Michael Phelps and his fiancé that is meant to show how differently we comment on and report on the accomplishments of women.

It makes a great point.
Read it and see if you don’t think it’s ridiculous – and then ask yourself if you read it about a man and his female fiancé, if you’d have the same reaction. I bet most of us wouldn’t. Because it’s common – women are still picked apart for stupid things (and that men get away with), and have their bodies, clothing, hairstyles and children pulled into conversations where they are irrelevant at best and distracting at worst.

What’s worse is that we seem to be numb to it; we don’t recognize the inequity and the violation of dignity and worth that underlies this type of reporting (or lack of reporting). Where is the public outcry?

Complacency is dangerous.
Not knowing we are complacent is even more troubling.

We clearly have work do to….

See more.

Copyright 2016 Annemarie Shrouder
Speaker, Facilitator, and Consultant on issues of Diversity & Inclusion

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