Someday it won’t be a newsworthy story when a female in what once was a male-dominated sport is victorious. Someday it will be commonplace. Someday, the headlines will capture the accomplishments of the individual, not the gender that accomplished the feat.
That day is unfortunately not today.
During Memorial Day weekend, National Hot Rod Association driver Courtney Force dominated her competitors at the NHRA Nationals at Heartland Park in Topeka, Kansas. This isn’t the first time she won—and she wasn’t the first female to top the charts in the series.
Far from it.
What made the day special was that it was the 100th win by a female in NHRA drag racing history. However, the sexist coverage by some media outlets, including NBC Sports, illustrates the progress that still needs to happen to truly achieve equality.
Let’s break it down.
The lead paragraph of the story begins by mentioning her boyfriend, IndyCar driver Graham Rahal’s accomplishment—or lack-there-of at the famed Indianapolis 500—as if to say Force’s victory is some sort of consolation prize to Rahal.
It is not.
But there’s more. Instead of using the typical racer-in-their-firesuit headshot or a photo from that day’s event, NBS Sports chose to run a sultry photo of Force from ESPN’s 5th Annual “Body
When was the last time a male racer was reduced to a sexual object after winning a race? Can’t think of one?
So why was Force objectified as a sex symbol for the male gaze.
On a day where her accomplishments should have been lauded for their own merit, NBC Sports reduced the day to ‘pretty woman gives Rahal consolation prize.’
On a day that should have exemplified the breaking down of an old-boys-club sport, NBC Sports reinforced the sexist portrals.
Someday, that will not be the case.
That day wasn’t today, but together we can make it tomorrow.