Saturday, 15 February 2014

Winter Olympics

There has been a lot of controversy about the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. The homophobic and sexist outbursts seem be overshadowing the sport itself with Putin and other Russian officials already having denounced LGBTs as paedophiles.

One of the highlights so far was a quote from Alexander Arefyev, the Russian ski jumping coach, on women's ski jumping. He claimed that women should not compete in dangerous sports but focus on their '[main] purpose – to have children, to do housework, to create hearth and home'. Ski jumping is known for being an incredibly dangerous and potentially fatal sport but what baffles me are the reasons against women's participation. There have been medical claims that a ski jumping accident may cause slightly more damage to a woman than to a man but even if this is the case surely women should be able to asses that risk for themselves. The ridiculous part is that women have in fact been used to test out the jumps to make sure that they are safe for men, which thoroughly undermines the health related arguments. I think the fact that women have only just been 'allowed' to compete in the sport despite the large numbers of pre-existing women ski jumpers is shocking.

So is Russia a sexist society? With Pussy riot taking centre stage and leading the way for Russian feminists there are some signs of change. I think that much of Russia's sexism, homophobia and other un-PC views do not stem from a fascist mindset but from deeply embedded traditions. The Russian view of society and family life is very old fashioned with female housewives and male breadwinners as its core. To change this situation will take patience and hard work but hopefully, as feminism catches on in Russia, women will gradually gain their own independence.

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