Monday, July 26, 2021

De-sexualizing Olympic gymnastics (and beach handball)

Kudos to the German Olympic women's gymnastics team for bucking the trend and wearing a more skin-covering, full-length unitard

After various #MeToo revelations in the field of gymnastics, it is taking an unconscionable time for any attempts to de-sexualize the sport, which tends to feature barely-pubescent girls (and grown women who look like barely-pubescent girls) wearing skimpy, skin-tight, high-cut leotards, not for any reason related to the execution of the sport, just because that's how it's always been. 

It doesn't have to be that way, and the German team (which unfortunately did not progress to the finals) are leading the way, even if their new uniforms are actually still pretty damned skin-tight and, frankly, sexy.

This comes after the Norwegian female beach handball team - who knew that was even a sport?! - was recently fined €1,500 for having the audacity to flout the sexist rules and wear skin-tight shirts instead of bikini bottoms. The European Handball Federation (EHF) found the team to have competed in "improper clothing" and fined all ten members €150 each. 

The International Handball Federation (IHF), which I'm guessing is run by a bunch of middle-aged guys, specifies that "women must wear bikini bottoms ... with a close fit and cut on an upward angle toward the top of the leg. The side width must of a maximum of ten centimetres." Why? Tbey may as well specify that the bikini bottoms be crotchless. Guys on the other hand can wear pretty much what they want.

Kudos to singer P¡nk too, for offering to pay the Norwegian team's fine in solidarity, and claiming on Twitter that "The European Handball Federation SHOULD BE FINED FOR SEXISM". The EHF president has since announced that the Federation will "re-evaluate" their dress code. Don't be too surprised if crotchless bikini bottoms are specified, though.


Fast forward about 4 months, and the IHF has just announced  a change to its international rules that allows female beach handball players to wear shorts rather than insisting on bikini bottoms.

This was a direct result of the Norwegian and German team protests, and the resulting complaints to the IHF by government ministers from Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland and Iceland, calling on the IHF to review its uniform rules "in accordance with gender equality". Well, we still don't have THAT, but we are another step closer.

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