In which I can’t even
You can always count on progressives to hate on wives and motherhood, and to find any excuse to demean the family unit.
A post published at Salon took issue with using the descriptors of “wife” and “mother” to describe women Olympians. Yes, really.
Did you hear that women’s trap shooter Corey Cogdell-Unrein won her second career Olympic medal for the U.S. team in Rio this weekend? Did you cheer for Hungarian swimmer Katinka Hosszú, who won the gold and broke a world record in 400-meter individual medley? Or were you too distracted by the media commentary about their husbands?
Yes. And no. The fact that they’re wives didn’t cause a blip on my radar.
In the field of world-class competition, you can be literally one of the greatest athletes of all time and still have fans who’d argue your achievements are second-rate. If you want to get on the cover of Sports Illustrated, your odds are better if you’re a swimsuit model than an actual record-crushing hero. And then there’s the way that female athletes are repeatedly commented on in the media — either as objects of desire or grudging “plays like a guy” admiration, and always, the need to comment on their status as wives and moms.
Gee, why is that? Could it be that Sports Illustrated is a magazine FOR DUDES. There are innumerable women’s mags made specifically to feature strong females who do strong things like win gold medals. Maybe if you look there, you’ll find the cover spread you’re looking for. Maybe.
When Corey Cogdell-Unrein took the trap shooting bronze over the weekend, eight years after earning her first medal in Beijing and four years after competing in London, the headlines noted her achievement by placing her in context. The Chicago Sun-Times announced, “Corey Cogdell-Unrein, wife of Bears DE Mitch, wins bronze.” This is the entire second paragraph of the report: “Her husband, Bears defensive end Mitch Unrein, cheered her from his home near Chicago. They have been married for two years.” Last month, the paper similarly declared that “Bears lineman Mitch Unrein’s wife takes aim at gold in Rio.” The Sporting News, meanwhile, reported that “Corey Cogdell, wife of Bears lineman, wins bronze in shooting.”
Do we really have to explain this? She’s married to a hometown sports hero. Indicating such makes the story relevant for the hometown crowd. Seriously, this is not rocket science.
It’s kind of like how when Hillary Clinton achieved her history-making Democratic nomination for the president of the U.S., newspapers across the country blasted out photographs of her husband. Know when not to perpetuate BS, journalists.
Maybe, just maybe it’s because Hillary has, in the most literal sense, ridden her husband’s coattails into relevancy. And it’s not my fault that Bill Clinton’s fascination with balloons was the best part of the entire DNC (not a euphemism).
I also wouldn’t mind, as I watch the games with my two daughters, to not be barraged with what former Olympic gymnastic medalist Shawn Johnson recently described as the media’s “devastating scrutiny” on female athletes’ appearance — “what they wear, how fat or thin they are, even whether or not they’re pretty.” As she says, “If you’re going to tear me apart, tear apart my gymnastics. Tear apart the one thing that athletes can either defend or work on, that actually is part of our sport. But if we’re out on the field, don’t start commenting on the kind of makeup we’re using.”
Welcome to the global limelight. It’s a nasty, unfair place, and is driven by inanity to feed the masses the drivel they crave.
And I could do without upbeat stories on what great moms some Olympians are, like the ones that say, “Balancing family with demanding careers is a constant struggle for many women, but you need look no further than the U.S. Olympic team for proof that you can excel at both.” Because I don’t see a whole lot out there about how new dad Michael Phelps manages to have it all.
It’s crazy but, what if the default mode for reporting about female Olympics athletes wasn’t about their roles as wives and moms? What if the commentary around them didn’t scrutinize their bodies in such weird ways? Because the games are still just getting under way, and plenty of us just want to cheer for the women — and their incredible accomplishments — themselves.
I love being a wife, step-momma, and soon-to-be momma. Each of these roles has made me a better me than I ever was solo. There’s no way I could describe my life, achievements, or personal progress without including my husband and girls, nor would I want to. My greatest accomplishment is not this (though I have big love for LI), it’s not any award I’ve won or will win, policy initiative I’ve championed or crushed, or any other political or professional victory. My greatest accomplishment is wiggling around in my womb, giving me terrible acid reflux.
I am as much an individual as I ever was pre-marriage, but in the best of ways — my life is no longer about me and me alone. If anything, I’ve come to know myself better through my family and have been empowered to do, seek, and conquer more.
And therein lies the fundamental difference in perspective between myself and modern feminists. I don’t see wifedom and motherhood as hinderances nor do I see either as attributes to be left on the cutting room floor. Excluding my husband and girls from the story of who I am and who I’ll become would be egregiously dishonest.
Proud wife, proud Momma, proud blogger, signing off.
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