feminist news round-up 29.07.12
More Women Than Ever
More women than ever are competing in the 2012 London Olympics than any previous games. Women are representing nearly every country. This includes Saudi Arabia, a country that has never previously sent any women athletes to the Olympics. Additionally, for the first time ever, the US is sending more female athletes to the upcoming games than male athletes – they’re sending 261 men and 269 women.
Saudi judo competitor, Wojdan Shaherkani, has been banned from wearing the hijab during her competition. The 18-year-old heavyweight is one of the first two female athletes the Islamic monarchy has ever sent to a Games and like the other – the American-raised 800 metres runner Sarah Attar – was included in the Saudi party on the proviso she adhere to sharia law dress code. That includes a hijab or headscarf.
The decision that Shaherkani needs to compete without a hijab or a headscarf is due to safety concerns. The scarf could be caught around the throat, or it could fall over her eyes and impede her vision. As choking is one of the tactics used on the mat in the sport there was an argument that the hijab could also stand in the way of a rival’s attempts to move their fingers close to the neck and complete the technical manoeuvre.
Leisel Jones Faces Body Scrutiny
This week, Australian swimmer Leisel Jones, has been publically scrutinised because of the shape of her body. Some commentators suggested that she had gained too much weight to be in peak physical condition. Hayley Lewis and Cathy Freeman have both spoke out about the media comments saying that they are not encouraging and bad for Jones this close to a major competition. Additionally, given that Jones is clearly capable of swimming quickly and has qualified for the Olympics, what her body happens to look like is beside the point. And indeed, it sends a negative message to others out there who may struggle with body image issues.
Women Basketballers in the back of the Plane
The Australian women’s basketball team (who happen to be quite successful – having won silver medals at the last three Olympics and bronze in 1996) are flying to London in economy class. This is despite the fact that their less successful male counterparts get business class seats. Federal sports minister, Kate Lundy, has spoken out about this discrimination saying, ‘my view is that team travel should be equitable for our male and female athletes… Our Australian basketball teams, the Opals and the Boomers, both play the same game, they’re both tall and they are both equally committed to representing Australia at the Games. They shouldn’t have to travel a different class because they’re both world class.’ Several organisers have come out to defend the practice, saying that it is up to the individual teams and sponsors to sort out travel arrangements.
Lauren Jackson flies the flag
Despite concerns about which passenger seat she took, Australian basketballer, Lauren Jackson, carried the Australian flag at the Olympics opening ceremony. The last Australian woman to lead out the team was diver Jenny Donnet in Barcelona in 1992.
(Image source: 1)