Rio Through a Gender Prism

Brazilian beach volleyball player signals her partner. Photo courtesy of BuzzFeed

As the Rio Olympics were wrapping up, among all the hackneyed storylines and commentary, one particular observation from an NBC executive made me do a double take. He was trying to explain the decision-making process involved in whether to broadcast certain events live or with tape delay:

“More women watch the games than men, and for the women, they’re less interested in the result and more interested in the journey,” he said.

How retro and sexist was my immediate reaction! But then I thought: Hmmm, he may be right, that’s probably true.

Can something both be sexist and still be true? I found myself wondering. What do you think? Here’re some of my own thoughts:

“What’s the bottom line?” men always — and impatiently !— want to know. Not only in business but in just about any realm of human activity. In contrast, women can be found taking pleasure in even the tiniest ledger entries.

“What’s she wearing?” The answer to that typical question posed by a woman is arguably more interesting and ultimately more consequential in the way it frames an emotional response than the bottom line.


While men like to “score,” women “make love” or, if the story’s right, just plain “fuck.”

Now that I think about it, foreplay is what the very best narrative art is all about. And so the climax becomes, more often than not, anticlimactic.

So, too, the last sentence of this brief essay is no doubt anticlimactic…. And is it also sexist?