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Lochte and Solo: Another example of gender inequality?

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Just at the end of the 2016 Olympic games, two American athletes were tugged into the media circus because of inappropriate behavior during in Rio.

US Women’s Soccer Goalie Hope Solo was suspended and later terminated for a display of bad sportsmanship after being defeated by Sweden.

US Swimmer Ryan Lochte claimed to have been robbed at gun point. Later it was revealed, Lochte and three of his other teammates lied about the mugging. In actuality, they had vandalized a gas station while inebriated.

At first because these two incidents happened withinseveral days of each other, the different reactions to the twosituations seemed to be the product of gender inequality. While Solo was reprimanded suspended and later terminated from the team, Lochte fled Rio, local charges and what seemed like all punishment.

Yet these two situations are indeed more different than they are similar.

Solo’s track record of bad decisions followed her to Rio. It was no secret that she had been in trouble before, as in the previous year she was in the news for domestic violence charges. She has displayed a bad attitude both on and off the field, and it was because of her demeanor that she was penalized as harsh as she was.

Lochte, on the other hand, does not have the same public, historic record of bad behavior. While this does not excuse his behavior, Lochte’s punishment for the most part suited his crime. He was also suspended from his team for ten months.

It is fairly safe to say the official reactions to the poor behavior displayed at the Olympics was not ostensibly a gender issue. Yet the reaction to both dramas on the part of the media and the public tells a different story.

The knee-jerking reaction to a white man’s crime is still ‘boys will be boys’ and ‘don’t let this one incident ruin his career.’ Whereas, our reactions to women in the are less than sympathetic. Women caught in the media get stuck with reputations.

Olympians are supposed to be role-models. They are supposed to represent people at their best. When Olympians break that image of themselves, Americans feel betrayed. The hope they placed in those figures becomes diminished, and for a small second, the world ceases to make sense. In order to regain sense in the world, we have the tendency to forgive the man and condemn the woman.

These tendencies are ingrained within our society and within our minds. While there is no easy solution to feminist dilemmas today, acknowledging they exist is a good start.

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