Archive for February 18th, 2008

China and the Good Ol’ Boy Olympics

WITH THE OPENING CEREMONIES in Beijing drawing ever closer, I have increasingly struggled with whether China deserves the all the flak it’s getting. Especially as a resident of a nation that has a rather shameful track record as of late, I wonder, “Who are we to point a finger?” Beijing has continually fallen back on just that idea, using it to rail against environmental restrictions, political pressures regarding Burma and Darfur, and the politicization of its beloved Olympic games.

Part of me just wants to give it to them. I mean, they have come a pretty long way, right? But then shit like this happens, and like a flood it occurs to me that behind Beijing’s weakening excuses are mountains of injustice – from an editorial in the South China Morning Post, via China Digital Times:

Can the propaganda masters in Beijing get a grip on their horses and stop the kind of silly stunts like the one being conducted in Shanghai? Shanghai’s Xinmin Evening News reported last week that the government was looking for 40 young women between the ages of 18 and 24 and 168cm to 178cm tall to help present medals at the Games. According to the report, they must meet at least 15 requirements including such physical attributes as bones in every part of the body being well proportioned and symmetrical, muscles elastic enough to display a healthy, beautiful body – full-figured, not fat and cumbersome, and so on.

While the officials’ intention is to show the world the utmost attention they pay to every salient detail of the Games, this has come off as incredibly sexist and offensive to many people, including this writer. For heaven’s sake, you are looking for young women to present the medals and they should not be treated to a process as strict as that used by emperors to choose their wives.

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