Sometimes, Norway and its people get angry for the right things, and I like it! Recently, it’s about sexism in sports. It was hard to avoid those news, so I’m sure you heard about the fact that Norway’s female handball team decided to wear shorts instead of bikinis during a game at the European Beach Handball Championships. Now you’re probably thinking: « so what? ». Well, it was an absolute outrage apparently, as they ended up being fined 1,500 euros due to « improper clothing » as the rules are very clear about this: women HAVE to wear bikini bottoms during competitions.
On the other hand, men can seem to wear shorts as they please. Several other female athletes protested by covering up, notably in ice skating. Why should women wear revealing clothes they don’t feel comfortable in, when man are seen equipped for sports whenever? This is absolute sexism, a kind of way to say that women can be part of what they like but only as federations, mostly composed of men (and white, duh), think they should look like.
What was comforting is that the main reaction in Norwegian, political and social, was of overwhelming support. The national handball federation offered to pay the fine and stands by the players, as well as Norway’s Minister of Culture Abid Raja, who decided to put pressure to have this insane rule removed. The Norwegian team had already asked for a change of mandatory clothing back in April, without any answer.
The point of course is to go further and forward, not restricting men’s clothing during international sports competitions but instead considering to adapt the rulebooks to the realities of the world today. Women are tired to show their ass/boobs/whole legs while playing for their country, women shouldn’t be forced to play without something covering their hair if they believe in something, and women shouldn’t pay a fine for refusing to comply to out of their time rules.
And in sports, you have to imagine that women go though harder conditions of work than men, notably though the system of funding. Brands and sponsors believe that male teams will get more attention than female ones, so women always have to fight to live off their athletic career. How can you train properly and then be at your maximum for competitions if no one makes you feel you’re worth it? They have a lot to overcome over time, and clothing is just a tiny bitty step in the right direction.
Norway is today standing against double standards in sports, which doesn’t counter inner sexism in society. Even if it’s probably more hidden than in other countries like France for example, sexism and patriarchy are still very much present in the daily lives of people. I hope that such a case, gaining so much international attention, will be a motivation to address Norwegian sexism as well.