One of the reasons it took women so long to be accepted as competitors in the Olympic Games was the view that they should only engage ‘in restrained and non-violent’ exercises to protect their ‘peculiar function of multiplying the species.’ An incredibly sexist view that was put forward in the 1800’s and upheld in the early 1900’s.
Despite many breakthroughs by women in sport until these games women had not been allowed to compete in ski jumping. Apart from concerns for their safety, the other reason given was that there simply were not enough high profile athletes to merit a separate event.
Ski Jumping became and Olympic event in 1924 and it was a male only event. Women have been fighting for the right to compete for years since. Even despite the IOC passing a rule in 1991 stating that any new events added to the Olympic calendar must be available to male and female competitors women were still barred from Ski jumping.
Women have had to fight for inclusion in many sporting fields but in 2011 women won the right to be a part of the ski jumping event at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.
One woman credited with helping the women break through this barrier is American Lindsey Van. who was quoted as saying “It makes me nauseous. I kind of want to vomit. I’m sorry but my baby making organs are on the inside. Men have an organ on the outside. So if its not safe for me jumping down, then my uterus is going to fall out, what about the organ on the outside of the body?” An argument very few men are likely to win.
Sochi may have witnessed the men’s ski jump event having more than 20 more competitors than the women’s, but this is a big event for the women and one that they have fought hard for, so they deserve to be given the chance to make it grow. Just like a baby, it has to start from small beginnings!