I know I am not the only one watching all the Olympics, and especially all the gymnastics all the time this week. And I am sure I can’t be the only one who has noticed the disparity of expectation in gymnastics, specifically floor exercises.
Men: Complete the elements. Be powerful. Stay in the lines.
Women: Complete the elements. Be powerful but not too powerful. Or rather be powerful but don’t make it look like that. Be effortless, graceful, fun, flirty, whatever feminine personality trait you are going to work, work that with the elements. And be beautiful. And smile. And have your wrists right, and please do it all to music. And stay in the lines.
Here is the thing about being a woman in the world, we can’t just do the thing, we have to perform the thing. When my husband takes the girls to the grocery store, he gets told he is a wonderful dad. He gets told he is brave by strangers, just for completing the basic parenting element that is taking the children with you to the grocery store. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes that is harder than a triple double flippy tuck. (I believe that is the technical name.) But COME ON! I don’t get points for just doing the element. It has to be effortless, no yelling, everyone smiling, and I have to look cute while doing it if I want the points.
And the ease. The ease these ladies are expected to exhibit while slinging their bodies into the air at twice their height and then sticking the landing is just ridiculous. How come men are allowed to grunt? How come they are allowed to make noise as the air is pushed out of their lungs because their feet hit the floor with a force that would probably shatter my weak 30 something ankles. The ladies, they have to smile. SMILE. Silently WHAT THE HECK? HOW IS THAT EVEN HUMANLY POSSIBLE?
But ease is a necessary part of being a lady. I know because making things look easy is not really something I excel at. Every, single, time I express my struggle, I get at least one person telling me that I need to just quit complaining, that I need to suck it up. My life isn’t that hard. Um, Y’ALL! My life is allowed to be hard and I may grunt a little bit at the sheer force of the landing on any given day okay? Okay. Don’t deduct points because I can’t say “Fine! We are great! Everything is JUST GREAT!”
Also, there is a disparity as always, with clothing expectations. Can we just talk about how unfair that is? Men get to do their thing in pants. Pants! Women have to wear sparkly leotards that they have glued to their hinies so nothing rides up their butt on national television. Because even if Simone Biles can do things with her body that literally no one else in the world can do, you know if she picked a wedge that would be the only news worthy thing for the next twenty-four hours. I taught high school for nine years and every single day I had to make sure nothing was too tight, too loose, too short, too low, too whatever man. I seriously doubt my khaki and polo everyday friends (button down if they are getting fancy) have ever thought about most of this? NO! Not even on the radar.
How many extra points does Gabby Douglas get for the most incredible lipstick in the entire olympic games? Or Simone Biles for not poking her eye out while applying glittery lower eye liner? How much does it up the difficulty level, because that junk is HARD!! How many extra points in life do I get for putting on make up most non-house days? And for correctly negotiating water proof mascara necessary situations in my life? I have literally preached one time in my whole life, and I have already thought way, WAY more about my make up than the pastor who gets up their almost every week. I want a little credit! I want two bonus tenths.
And on top of all of this. All of it, women have to do their routines to music. Dance! Dance! Perform perform perform! Point your toes! Flick your wrists! Make this look fun! Entertain us! It would be one thing if we just got BONUS for doing all of these things, but we get punished if we don’t hit these ridiculous standards. And I guess that would be fine too, but these things aren’t even on the list of things that most men are expected to do! The world does not ask them to smile while also defying gravity.
I could not be prouder of the women gymnasts this go round. I am so glad my girls are growing up in a world where they can look up to them. But I hope my girls will be allowed to navigate the world in pants if they want to, and not get punished for it.