Taiwan’s Female Athletes Still Fighting Institutionalized Sexism

Anyone who kept half an eye on local media coverage of the 2017 Taipei Summer Universiade that closed on Aug. 31 will likely have noticed the sometimes cringe-worthy manner in which Taiwan’s female athletes were “feted” for their achievements.

It didn’t take long for this brand of patronizing sexism to rear its head at the games, with Taiwan’s first medal winner, taekwondoka Lin Kan-yu (林侃諭) introduced by a male official at her post-victory press conference with the rhetorical question, “Isn’t she cute?”

The “kawaii (Japanese for ‘cute’) culture” that permeates social media usage in Asia has doubtless exacerbated this unblinking tendency toward the sexual objectification of female athletes and celebrities. This is not a uniquely Taiwanese phenomenon, as the likes of Great Britain’s Jessica Ennis-Hill, the 2012 Olympic heptathlon champion, can attest.

But the focus on a female athlete’s appearance over her achievements appears so ingrained in Taiwan as to elicit bemusement when questioned. This mentality can be seen as having emerged in tandem with professionalization of female athletics and sports beginning in the 1960s.

Read the rest of the article at the News Lens, here.

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