A public Reddit forum “Oh-lympics” has been set up for people to upload sexualized screen-captures of female Olympic athletes.
With over an astonishing 217,000 followers since it was first kickstarted back in 2012, Oh-lympics encourages its members to share the moments during the Olympic Games that ‘made you go ‘Oh’’. These athlete enthusiasts have little to no interest in the skillset of the women they are exhibiting in their posts, inappropriately subtitled as ‘Ingrid Oliveira Brazillian Diver with great ass’ and ‘More women’s water polo ass’.
Reddit itself, as a platform, has a complicated history with the censoring of its more ‘distasteful’ sections and communities, so it’s really no surprise that people on the site would be making these kinds of posts.
Six prolific Oh-lympics users spoke to Vice about the subreddit under conditions of anonymity. They stated that they uploaded photos of women ‘they admired and were attracted to’.
One 23-year-old user, known under their user name ajvazded0, acknowledged that the Oh-lympics forum contributes to the issue of female athletes being sexualised, describing some of the comments made on the forum as ‘offensive and disrespectful’. However, they also claimed that such remarks were ‘unavoidable’ on account of ‘human nature’.
Meanwhile, outside of the crude cyberspace, female Olympians seem to be doing what they can in their power to fight against this sexualisation. Sarah Voss’s full-body suit is a prominent example of this. The Guardian reported that Voss claims, while she had never herself been abused, she and her teammates stood as role models for younger athletes and wanted to encourage women to stand up for themselves in the face of crude behaviour.
Following this decision, the team was handed a fine of $1,765 (£1,283) – approximately $176 per player – by The European Handball Federation (EHF), with their chosen shorts blasted as ‘improper clothing’.
U.S. gymnast Simone Biles, who has said she had been sexually abused by jailed sports doctor Larry Nassar, has withdrawn completely from her position in the competition due to mental health issues. Biles has previously spoken about her story, with the hopes of encouraging others to not feel alone, and to come forward with their own experiences.
Earlier this week, and seemingly prompted by the recent criticism of sexism in the depiction of women in sports, the Olympic Broadcasting System, placed a ban on overly sexualized images taken during the competitions.
The official Olympic guidelines on athletes’ portrayal in media evidently promote the mantra “Sport appeal, not sex appeal.” The document also recommends avoiding “passive, sexy imagery” and shots that don’t relate to an athlete’s performance, such as unnecessary “crotch shots, cleavage, and backsides”—all the things that “Oh-lympics” hold as their primary intentions as they share these inappropriately captioned images between themselves.