Chinese gold medalist Gong Lijiao makes historic win, faces sexist comments from reporters

Gong Lijiao

Social media users are outraged as Gong Lijiao, an Olympic gold medalist who made a historic win on Sunday, was called a “manly woman” and asked of her plans for a “woman’s life.”

The win: The four-time Olympian won the women’s shot put event with a career-best of 20.58 meters (67.52 feet), bringing home China’s first gold medal in an Olympic field event. The feat was also the first gold medal for any Asian athlete in shot put.

The interview: A sports correspondent for CCTV, a state-run broadcaster, said to viewers that the gold medalist appeared to be a “manly woman,” before the segment cut to the interview.

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  • “I may look like a manly woman on the outside, but inside I’m still more of a girl,” Gong said, according to BBC
  • Gong was said to be surprised after the interviewer then asked about her plans for a “woman’s life.” 
  • “Since you used to be a manly woman for shot put, do you feel you can be yourself from now on?” a female reporter asked. 
  • “Um… maybe I’ll look at my plans,” Gong responded. “If I don’t train then perhaps I will lose weight, get married and have children. Yes, it’s the path one must take in life.”
  • She was questioned further about her relationship status, the type of man she’s looking for and if she would arm-wrestle her boyfriend.

The outrage: Social media users were quick to rally behind Gong, criticizing the questions she was asked. 

  • A hashtag related to “Are women only limited to talk about marriage” has received more than 350 million views and 161,000 comments, according to The Guardian
  • The incident sparked further discussion on challenging the outdated views of gender roles and beauty standards of women. 
  • One commenter wrote: “Some only care about Gong’s figure and uterus whilst she is on the track of achieving her dream.”
  • “It’s not that she can’t get married, but that few men in this session are worthy of her,” read another popular post. “She is too good to marry any of them. Women are entitled to talk much more than just marriage, like our dream and success.”
  • Gong replied to the post, “This expresses how I feel, thank you!”

The incident is nothing new to women athletes all over the world. South Korean archer An San also recently faced a string of sexist comments about her appearance despite winning two gold medals in the Games, NextShark previously reported. 

Featured Image via Getty

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