Two sets of rules? Black female athletes face an unfair amount of pressure when it comes to the OlympicsAugust 24, 20212 min read
The Olympics have come and gone. As the world watched top athletes from across the globe compete, one key takeaway was not a new world record or a perfect 10 on the floor – but that Black female athletes faced unfair scrutiny and an obvious double standard when it came to issues of stress and mental health, policies and protocol, uniforms and hair, and more.
UMW Assistant Professor of Communication Emily Deering Crosby's previous research has focused on how the media has portrayed Black female Olympians like Lolo Jones and Gabby Douglas. Here's what she had to say:
There were numerous instances this summer of world class women athletes being sexualized, penalized, mocked and dismissed for a variety of issues from uniforms to motherhood to naturally occurring testosterone levels to mental health to archaic policy. This was particularly salient for Black women athletes, which is worth highlighting, since racism and sexism often function in tandem ways that many people misunderstand as “normal” or “insignificant” since it can be pervasive. My work aims to root out, point out and amplify why these practices are wrong, why they keep women from being appropriately valued, and how sports culture can be better and thus enhance communication scholarship and everyday practices by media, fans and athletes themselves. The silver lining in the most recent Games is how digital culture, particularly social media, gives athletes themselves a voice. Further, fans and athletes alike are becoming more knowledgeable of these problematic policies and are bravely and creatively calling them out.
Thus, athletes such as Simone Biles, Naomi Osaka, Sha’Carri Richardson, Allyson Felix, Norway’s women’s beach handball team, etc. are key case studies to understand these communication and structural phenomena more deeply and ultimately bring more critical awareness and justice to women’s sports.”
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Assistant Professor of Communication Emily Deering Crosby is a rhetorical critic of popular culture with research concentrations in feminist criticism – and she’s a go-to expert on this topic for national media. Dr. Crosby is available, simply click on her icon now to arrange an interview today.
Emily Deering Crosby Assistant Professor of Communication
Emily Deering Crosby is a rhetorical critic of popular culture with research concentrations in feminist criticism.