When it comes to the Olympic Games, there’s no shortage of things to celebrate. Of course everyone loves to keep close tabs on their homeland’s medal count, and it’s hard not to be in awe of a global event that peacefully brings together a world full of not-always-harmonious nations. Plus, when else can you spend an afternoon feeling patriotic merely by watching random sports like javelin, synchronized diving and fencing?
But if you ask me, the most significant achievement realized at the 2012 Olympic Games happened before any competition even took place. It has to do with equality. And it’s about damn time. Allow me to explain.
In the Western world, the suffragist movement began in the 1700s. Think about how long ago that was. The fight for women to become recognized as equal to men started before the telephone was invented, before the light bulb was designed, and even before the Wright brothers successfully took to the skies for the first time.
Now think about this: the 2012 London Olympics represents the first time ever that every participating country has sent a female representative to compete. I know I’m not alone in thinking that must have happened by now, otherwise IOC President Jacque Rogge wouldn’t have taken the time to explicitly acknowledge this milestone in his speech at the Opening Ceremony.
Viewers will also have noticed that Danny Boyle featured an homage to suffragists in the “live movie” he created for the Opening Ceremonies. After hearing Rogge explain the significance of the 30th Olympiad in terms of female participation, it was clear that we were witnessing a full-circle moment.
When it comes to gender, not everything that goes on at the Games is to be applauded. From female athletes being forced to undergo gender testing, to women being restricted from competing in some sports (such as ski jumping), all is not equal at the Olympics. And not to get really nitpicky, but anyone who has spent some time studying gender in an academic setting has to have been horrified by the pink/blue jackets German competitors wore during the Parade of Nations. But if you can set those issues aside for a moment, it’s clear that the fully inclusive participation of women in the Summer Games is an advance that deserves to be celebrated.
Regardless of who wins what, I’m thrilled to see an aspect of the suffragist movement’s goals come to fruition on the global stage at the 30th Olympiad. Here’s to hoping this isn’t the last time womankind is able to achieve full representation at the Olympic Games.
Well done ladies. No matter what happens, you’ve made your sisters proud.
Excellent post! I had no idea!!! Hard to believe it took so long. Thank you for highlighting this!!
It really is hard to believe, isn’t it?! Glad you liked the post, and thanks for taking the time to comment!
We both wrote about the Olympics, how funny! Glad I didn’t talk more about equality but I did mention it. My soapbox was about understanding the context and contributions of the UK as so many people I know didn’t like the opening ceremony when I was choked up the whole time! We are roaring!!! Loved your post!
Not only that, but we used almost the same image (just at a different time of day)! I loved your post too! It’s nice to know that I a) wasn’t the only one who loved the Opening Ceremonies and b) also wasn’t the only one who cried throughout them 🙂