Have you ever posted a thought or an idea on social media only for the "All Lives Matter" crew to hijack the thought within seconds, because Goodness forbid we are discussing something other than white men?
I understand that as a white female, I am not qualified to discuss things like "Black Lives Matter" despite my support for the group and it's message, but as a woman and a feminist, I find the "All Lives Matter" crew popping up into my social media feed quite often.
This week, I posted a Facebook status update commending the women of the 2016 Olympics, regardless of nationality for changing the conversation about what women can do and how they should look. The image of the dainty gymnast is gone thanks to strong, powerful women like Simone Biles and Aly Raisman. Penny Oleksiak, Simone Manuel and Katie Ledecky are showing their power in the pool, Brianne Thiessen-Eaton stood tall while others were laying exhausted after her bronze medal hecathalon performance, and where to begin when we talk about "shot Diva" Michelle Carter?! This strong, bad ass woman made history by being the first American woman to win Olympic gold in shot put! Let's not forget the Egyptian beach volleyball team, who had to campaign for TWO YEARS so they could compete in something other than a bikini. These women are changing the conversation about women's athletics, women's bodies, and living examples of strong, fierce women. While only two of these women are Canadian, I am proud to see all women, regardless of their nationalities, race, religion, kicking ass and taking names.
Naturally, within minutes, there was a comment about how all athletes deserve praise, even the boys. Yes, all lives matter, I am aware.
But why can't we say something about a group of people without someone getting offended? Male athletes get praised all of the time! I mean, I didn't see a headline where Miss California's fiance won a bunch of gold medals, his accomplishments completely marginalized like Corey Codgell, who's second Olympic medal was downplayed in a headline. She was simply the wife of a Chicago Bears player, nothing more. Of course, Miss California's fiance also shared his historic night with an African American, right Mercury News? After all, we can't distract from the accomplishments of men by giving Simone Manuel a name or something. Male athletes discuss performance, female athletes get to talk about what they are wearing.
This isn't just relegated to the Olympics; this is all sports or sports entertainment. One of the most decorated athletes in the history of US sport is Serena Williams. But she is rarely praised for her accomplishments, she's often called a man because of her athletic build. Where are her boobs? Why is she so broad shouldered, why is she proud of that body? Because that body wins championships. WWE Superstars Nikki and Brie Bella were named Teen Choice Awards Female Athletes of the Year, beating out Williams and a host of others, but Nikki was still called "John Cena's girlfriend" in write ups. We mentioned Brianne Thiessen-Eaton earlier, let's not forget at the 2012 games when she was referred to as "Ashton Eaton's fiancee." After all, women are either mocked for what they can do or marginalized by being known as the property of a man.
You can support women in sport without being opposed to men in sport. Michael Phelps has done amazing things. Usain Bolt just won his third gold medal. Joseph Schooling won a gold medal by beating his childhood hero, Michael Phelps. Lots of amazing stories about men in sport. But those stories are splashed all over magazines without nitpicking their bodies, their hair. Sometimes, women just want to celebrate other women. In a world where women are known as catty bitches determined to tear each other down, it's nice to see more women vocally supporting other women, whether it be women in sports, women in media, women getting promoted at their day jobs. Women are doing amazing things every single day and by giving them praise, no one is demeaning men who are doing amazing things too. Not everything is an all or nothing, with us or against us sort of deal.
So yes, men in sport are amazing. I promise to praise your penis tomorrow. But until then, I'm going to commend the amazing women all over the world who are doing amazing things.
Published by Mary-Helen Clark