Gold Medalist Faces Questions on 'a Woman's Life'

Social media backlash follows interview of Chinese shot put champion
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 7, 2021 4:30 PM CDT
Gold Medalist Faces Questions on 'a Woman's Life'
Gong Lijiao, of China, competes in the final of the women's shot put at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 1, 2021, in Tokyo.   (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Now that Gong Lijiao had won an Olympic gold medal in the women's shot put competition, an interviewer for Chinese state media evidently figured, it's time to move on. "Do you have any plans for a woman's life?" the champion was asked last Sunday, catching her off-guard. "Woman's life?" she said to the interviewer. Other questions included whether Gong has a boyfriend and what kind of man she's looking for, the BBC reports. The segment kicked off with a female host telling viewers that Gong "gave me the impression that she is a manly woman, until one breakthrough moment," before CCTV cut to Lu You, the interviewer. Gong said, "I may look like a manly woman on the outside, but inside I'm still more of a girl." Another female reporter asked, "Since you used to be a manly woman for shot put, do you feel you can be yourself from now on?" Gong answered, "Um ... maybe I'll look at my plans. If I don't train then perhaps I will lose weight, get married and have children. Yes, it's the path one must take in life."

That line of questioning was not a hit on social media. "She is an Olympic champion, and that is not enough to keep you from bringing up being skinny, getting married and having children?" posted a user on Douban, a Chinese social media platform, per the South China Morning Post. "It's 2021; being healthy and confident makes you beautiful." Gong has tried to change perceptions like those she faced Sunday. "Please pay more attention to us ‘fatter girls.' We are kind too," she said after winning her medal. The hashtag being used in the online backlash was, "Is marriage the only thing that can be talked about women?" One post drew an endorsement from the athlete. "It's not that she can't get married, it's that no man is her match ... when we talk about women, it's not just about marriage or looks, but also dreams and achievements," the post said. Gong answered: "This totally expresses what I feel! Thank you!" (More 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games stories.)

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