THE BLOG

Newsweek's Standards Tumble Off Track With Sexist Olympic Coverage

09/06/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

This summer's Olympics have a new criterion for medals: adorableness.

At least I think that's what Newsweek said. In the August 4 issue, "A Viewer's Guide to Beijing" gives readers a quick background on some of the rivalries and athletes to watch at this summer's Games. The section about gymnastics begins:

China's girls on bars and beams are adorable. Ours are, too. More important, though, the Chinese and U.S. women's gymnastics teams are the best in the world, making this the one sport in which the two Olympic powers can really go to the mats.

So at least being adorable is not the most important quality in a professional female athlete.

I realize female gymnasts are petite, and yes, they do sometimes wear hair scrunchies in their team colors, but I could think of a variety of less sexist and more relevant adjectives than "adorable" to describe them. How about strong, fearless and dedicated.

If we're going to start calling athletes who are short in stature "adorable" we have to be sure to include jockeys in the list. And don't forget Rau'Shee Warren of the U.S. Olympic boxing team or that precious retired NBA star Muggsy Bogues.

But even a 5-foot-3-inch tall male athlete would never be described as adorable. He would be described by how well he played in the game. Female athletes are also expected to perform well, as long as they look feminine doing so. Make that female politicians, too.

This argument is nothing new, but in 2008, the first year America had a serious woman contender for president, it's time to suppress the double standards and focus on the talent, not the cuteness, of all the athletes in the Olympics.

As for Newsweek, it's time to update their old fashioned qualifiers for female athletes. They are so out of touch it's adorable.