The Me Too movement comes to the 2018 Olympics


Shaun White and his athleticism have mostly been glorified in the media. But he’s facing severe backlash after sexual misconduct allegations against him have surfaced and he’s refused to answer women’s questions.

The Me Too movement is making its way to the 2018 Olympics. Shaun White is facing a media backlash after refusing to address the sexual misconduct claims against him. But is it enough?

Former soccer Olympian Julie Foundy took to Twitter to note how White refused to talk to any female reporters during his press conference. Just flat-out would not talk to a woman.

“Interesting. Amy Robach of GMA and Christine Brennan of USA Today both had hands raised entire Shaun White press conference. Not one woman was called on for a question. There were about 8 questions allowed,” she wrote.

U.S. Ski and Snowboarding has denied they intentionally ignored female journalists. But hours earlier, Brennan had published an article about the sexual harassment allegations against White. Coincidence? Unlikely.

That didn’t mean that White could escape questions about his past behavior that easily. Men did get to ask questions, and one man did bring up the allegations against White.

ABC’s Matt Gutman asked White whether he thought the allegations against him would “tarnish” his legacy, which seems like a pretty soft question. White, though, chalked it all up to “gossip.”

“You know honestly I’m here to talk about the Olympics not, you know, gossip, but I don’t think so,” White said, according to CNN. “I am who I am, and I’m proud of who I am and my friends, you know, love me and vouch for me and I think that stands on its own.”

“Absolutely,” a U.S. Ski and Snowboard communications official agreed. When Gutman tried to follow up, they moved on to someone else’s questions.

White later apologized on the Today show for using the word “gossip” and talked about how much he’s grown over the years.

In 2016, Lena Zawaideh, the former drummer for White’s band Bad Things, accused White of sending her explicit texts, forcing her to watch porn, sticking his hands down his pants and thrusting them in her face, and telling her to change her appearance, which White denied. They later reached a settlement.

There’s been such a changing tide when it comes to sexual misconduct in so many industries. White’s allegations, though, were mostly ignored.

Until today, White’s sexual harassment allegations weren’t even really on anybody’s radar. Because he’s so talented and such a big figure in the Winter Olympics, everything had been about his legacy and winning his third gold medal. He’s been glorified in the media while his allegations were swept aside, following the thinking that the Olympics in general are all about rooting for your team, having a good time, and praising your athletes.

But sexual misconduct is not uncommon with Olympic athletes. As NBC News notes, a Namibian boxer was accused of trying to forcibly kiss a waitress and a Moroccan boxer was accused of sexually harassing two female cleaners in 2016. In 2002, a student volunteer claimed an alpine skier sexually abused her in his room. During the 2000 Olympics, a Ugandan swimmer was accused of assaulting a teenage girl.

But time is very much up and sexual misconduct and allegations are being addressed at the Olympics. Take Larry Nassar’s case, which was wildly publicized.

Not only have people started questioning White, but the Olympics are taking a stand in the Me Too movement as well. NBC News has reported PyeongChang to be the first host city to open counseling offices, called Gender Equality Support Centers, during the Olympics.

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Now the big question is, as Gutman asked, will these allegations tarnish White’s legacy or will his gold medals outweigh the accusations?