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The Female Perspective: The Rio Olympics and Feminism

Welcome! This is a weekly blog* by Author J.L. Metcalf where I discuss anything and everything that strikes my fancy. If you have ideas on what you think I should write about, please send me an email via my website!

For now, sit back, relax and enjoy the blog!

*All views expressed in “The Female Perspective” are those of J.L. Metcalf, not Great Stories, Inc


When I was a kid I adored the Olympics. The pageantry, the excitement, the athleticism was so impressive when I was younger and full of dreams. I thought, wouldn’t it be amazing if I could be that dedicated to something, to anything. The 2 weeks would fly by and then it was all over for another few years.

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I haven’t actively watched the Olympics in a few years now. I simply find it difficult to find the same excitement I did when I was a child. Don’t get me wrong, it’s awesome to hear about Phelps winning his 27,000 gold medal, but I simply don’t get excited about the Olympics anymore.

This year was different though, I felt actively angry and insulted about the Olympics. First off, with them being in Rio, a country that is extremely poor and in desperate need of financial stability, seemed in poor taste. Sure, it will bring money in, but the fact is they had to borrow millions of dollars to create the venues needed to host the massive events. The water is practically poison and even though it’s technically winter there, Zika was  a fear on many people’s minds. Not to mention crime that runs rampant through the streets. But I don’t make the choices over who hosts the Olympics so like many, I shrugged it off as “better minds know better”.

What really got me peeved was the blatant sexism being expressed by the commentators and news outlets. From the female athlete’s being referred to as “girls” even though they are grown women, to the news headlines in print and social media that state things like:

I don't know about you, but it would seem to me that someone breaking a WORLD RECORD is a bigger deal than a TIE.
I don’t know about you, but it would seem to me that someone breaking a WORLD RECORD is a bigger deal than a TIE.

AND…

With the headline: "Wife of a Bears' lineman wins a bronze medal today in Rio Olympics"
With the headline: “Wife of a Bears’ lineman wins a bronze medal today in Rio Olympics”

These 2 examples are perfect as to what’s wrong with the world in terms of feminism and sexism today. First off, a woman breaks a WORLD RECORD and she gets the smaller, less impressive headline while Phelps, who TIED for silver, gets the big headline. There could not be a more perfect example of sexism if someone actually tried. To essentially push someone to the side who broke a world record is insulting to her athletic ability. Besides the fact that hey, Phelps has won like a gazillion medals, let’s let someone else have the spotlight shall we?

When I saw the Twitter post from the Chicago Tribune regarding Corey Cogdell winning bronze I wanted to scream. Not only does the post not even mention her name, but it also puts her neatly into the box of someone’s wife. Not bronze medal winning athlete. No, we wouldn’t want to let her have her own achievement. Her husband has to be in there as well. It’s unfair and it’s also ludicrous.

There have been other examples of this, commentators praising another female swimmer by giving all the credit to her husband for her ability to perform.

NBC credited Hungarian swimmer Katinka Hosszu’s coach/husband as “the person responsible for her performance”. ~News.com

That one stunned me as well, I’m sorry, is he in the pool pushing her along? Is he paddling along beside her? Because it would seem to me that she did all the hard work. She was in the pool. She is in the Olympics. Not him. Why does it seem to be impossible for the media to give credit where it’s actually due when it comes to the women? Why do their achievements have to come tied to some man in their life? Why can’t these women be praised the same way that their male counterparts are?

Sadly, there are quite a few examples of this type of sexism that have run rampant through the 2016 Rio games. From commentators discussing the importance of makeup on the female gymnasts during their gymnastics routines to NBC completely botching the coverage of a HISTORY making swim by Simone Manuel when she became the first African-American woman to win a swimming medal in an individual event. They did air the medals ceremony eventually, but an hour after the historic moment occurred rather than airing it in real time (as the BBC did).

The fact is, our country is going through a massive period of change. A huge paradigm shift. From racial tensions to sexism to financial inequality, we are all watching our world shift and break apart in ways we never though we’d see. Donald Trump spews hatred and bile everywhere he goes while Hilary Clinton makes history, only to be overshadowed by her husband in the press coverage. It’s a strange world and the Olympics is simply putting a magnifying glass on that strangeness and showing us how the things we thought were gone (racism, sexism, etc) are still very much here and they are no longer as subtle as they once were. Now they’re right in our faces. It’s painful and it’s infuriating to watch women talked about as being “girls” and to have their accomplishments, in many ways, shrugged off or obscured by a male figure in their lives.

The fact is, women have been competing in the Olympic Games for 116 years;

Female athletes have been a part of the Olympic tradition for a whopping 116 years, since they first competed in the sufficiently ladylike lawn tennis at the Paris Games in 1900. –News.com.au

And yet, even after over 100 years of competing, the women still have far to go in terms of finding equality in their sports, but I will admit, progress has been made. I don’t want to deny that fact. I am hopeful though that it won’t take another 116 years for us to get to a place where female athletes are treated as equals to the male athletes and we will no longer talk about them in terms of their husbands or boyfriends, but in terms of their accomplishments and athleticism.

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What do YOU think of the Olympics? Are you watching?

Tell me your thoughts!

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The Female Perspective: Ninja’s Abound

Welcome! This is a weekly blog* by Author J.L. Metcalf where I discuss anything and everything that strikes my fancy. If you have ideas on what you think I should write about, please send me an email via my website!

For now, sit back, relax and enjoy the blog!

*All views expressed in “The Female Perspective” are those of J.L. Metcalf, not Great Stories, Inc


With everything going on right now in politics and more, I wanted to write a blog that focused on the lighter, more fun side of life. It can be hard for me to not focus on the negative, but when you really look around, there’s a lot of positive in our crazy world. One of those positives is the show American Ninja Warrior. Yep. That’s right, I said American Ninja Warrior, the insane obstacle course show hosted by a comedian and a former NFL player.

I think June marks the start of the 8th season of this show. I’ve only been watching for one or two seasons, I always saw it as a silly show with no merit whatsoever. I have since changed my mind because there may be more male competitors than female, but the women that are creeping into the ANW team are powerhouses that give feminism, that give healthy, and strong good names.

Here are a couple examples of the cool women of American Ninja Warrior.

Kacy Catanzaro

The Might Kacy!
The Might Kacy!

You may or may not have heard this woman’s name, but Catanzaro was the first woman ever to make it up the famed “Warped Wall” on American Ninja Warrior. She showed that women can in fact compete on ANJ. Not only can they compete, they can stand toe to toe with the guys. An impressive feet for the 5 foot tall woman.

In 2014, Catanzaro became the first woman to complete the qualifying course of American Ninja Warrior, making it up the warped wall on her second try at 5:26.18 at the Dallas qualifiers, ranking her 21 out of 30; this also makes her the first woman to make it up the warped wall in competition. On July 14, 2014, Catanzaro competed in the Dallas finals of American Ninja Warrior. She was the first woman ever to complete the course (and the second woman to attempt it after Jessie Graff in season 5), qualifying for the national finals in Las Vegas with a time of 8 minutes, 59 seconds. Host Akbar Gbaja-Biamila remarked “I’ve seen greatness during my NFL career…And I’ve been in awe of people, but I am really in awe of Kacy”. Her achievement made her a social media phenomenon, with her run being viewed over 100 million times. –Wikipedia

Kacy had a really tough season last year, the stress and pressure of being the first woman through the course got to her and she had a few tearful moments that broke my heart. I have a lot of respect for her because she keeps coming back,she doesn’t stop trying. She does not give up and I have hopes for her 2016 season. She’s going to make it all the way to the end!

Jessie Graff

Jessie rocking it, ANW style.
Jessie rocking it, ANW style.

Jessie Graff is probably my favorite of the female competitors. She is a stuntwoman who has worked on Supergirl, The Walking Dead, X-Men: First Class and Iron Man 2 to name a few. She often rocks some kind of awesomely adorable outfit (last week she wore a Wonder Woman ensemble) and she is strong. Like, seriously strong. In season 8 of ANW they have raised the height of the “Warped Wall” to 14.5 feet and Jessie was the only woman in the LA qualifiers to make it up in one try. Many of the seasoned male competitors didn’t make it up the wall at all.

This chick is amazing. She makes me want to train even harder when I watch the agility and confidence with which she moves through this course.

I could go on, because thankfully, there are A LOT of women now on American Ninja Warrior and that makes it worth a watch for families especially. Little girls (and boys) can see what the human body can actually do when perseverance and commitment are at their top. For a show about jumping through obstacles, it continually impresses me with it’s message of hard work, dedication and heart. This show has a lot of heart. We hear stories about compeitors competing for their families, for loved ones they’ve lost, for loved ones battling disease and so much more.

It’s not just a show about being the best, it’s a show about being a human and it shows you that giving up is not an option.

The Warped Wall. Now 14.5 feet high!
The Warped Wall. Now 14.5 feet high!

American Ninja Warrior is on NBC on Thursday nights at 8pm. 

What do you think? Do you watch the show? Who’s your favorite Warrior? Sound off in the comments!