Trudeau calling female Olympians 'girls' highlights 'broader problem' in sports

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was so excited about the Olympics earlier this week, he told reporters in Corner Brook, N.L., that he'd stayed up late the previous night to watch Canadian Andre De Grasse win a bronze medal in the fan-favourite 100-metre sprint.

"It is 2016 so it means that our girls are doing extraordinarily well," Trudeau said, invoking his oft-cited reason for appointing a gender-equitable cabinet. "We've got a great Olympic team and all of Canada is incredibly behind them."

"Because it's 2015," which Trudeau used after last fall's cabinet swearing-in, is a pithy line. It's a simple call to get with the times that encapsulates a much broader problem of lingering sexism, which Trudeau uses as shorthand for his drive to give women equal emphasis in his government. But while Trudeau may have thought he was playing to that brand, in this case he walked into a faux pas for a lot of feminists: referring to fully formed adult Olympians as children.

"It's part of a broader problem" in the world of sports, said Kathryn Trevenen, acting director of the University of Ottawa's Institute of Feminist and Gender Studies. "The idea that men are serious, they pursue business and sport; girls are just having fun. I think that language is directly related to [how] women are always seen as less serious and less significant."

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