‘You run like a girl’ – a phrase we’ve all heard at one point or another. A phrase that has demotivated women from competing in sports for years.
It seems that men have always dominated the world of athletics. But is that still true? Misogyny is still alive and well, but now that society is leveling the playing field, women everywhere are starting to get equal opportunities as men, even when it comes to sports – an area that women are often discouraged from taking part in.
However, the 2016 Rio Olympics proved something that many of us have always known: women can do just as well – and sometimes even better – than men even in a male-centric field like sports.
American women had especially stunning results this Summer.
Simone Biles, a 19 year old African American gymnast, won five medals – four gold and one bronze. That’s more than any other U.S. gymnast in a single Olympics. In addition, Katie Ledecky, also just 19, destroyed the world records for both the 400-meter and 800-meter freestyle. All together, she won four gold medals and one silver.
These women have the unique opportunity to not only show off the results of their years of hard work, but to inspire and motivate others and to speak out against misogyny on a global platform as well. Simone Biles did just that in a recent interview: “I’m not the next Usain Bolt or Michael Phelps. I’m the first Simone Biles,” she told reporters.
It’s an obvious statement, but still an important one. She wants to be recognized for her own accomplishments and for who she is without being compared to others. She is saying: ‘I am great, and I am also a woman.’
Women have certainly come a long way in the fight for equality and this extends to the world of sports as well. Be that as it may, we should not allow ourselves to become too complacent about how far we’ve come as a society. There is still a lot of work to do, which is why it is so important that women like Simone Biles and Katie Ledecky have overcome the obstacles that institutionalized sexism have put in place for them.
They’ve proven that girls can make remarkable athletes that give men a run for their money.
So next time someone tells you that you throw, run, or do anything else ‘like a girl,’ take it as a compliment.
-by Seraina B.