Olympic Medalist Credited as 'Athlete's wife' by Media

Corey Cogdell-Unrein's achievement was not enough for the media, which referred to her only in the context of her NFL player husband.

Corey Cogdell-Unrein. Photo via Instagram

Taking home the bronze medal for women's trap shooting for the United States on Sunday was not enough of an accomplishment for Olympian Corey Cogdell-Unrein, according to some media outlets. Headlines regarding Cogdell-Unrein's victory referred to the athlete as the wife of an NFL player.


A Chicago Tribune headline said, "Corey Cogdell, wife of Bears lineman Mitch Unrein, wins bronze in Rio." And when posting the article on Twitter, the publication used a similar headline:

 

Twitter users slammed the publication for focusing on her husband rather than Cogdell-Unrein. Users responded negatively, and some proposed alternative headlines.

On Monday, following the firestorm on Twitter, the Tribune sent out another tweet.

Indeed, Cogdell-Unrein is impressive in her own right.

Cogdell-Unrein is competing in her third Olympics. She also earned a bronze medal in 2008 in Beijing. On Sunday, she hit 13 out of 15 targets, with her last one earning her the medal. Cogdell-Unrein's win earned the United States its sixth medal. (Currently the U.S. has 19 medals.)

"They are very similar as I won bronze in 2008 in a shoot-off as well," she said of her second victory compared to her first. "But I think it is different, because in 2008, I was two years into the sport. Now I have been competing for almost 10 [years], so I am a different athlete and I felt more prepared coming into these Games."

Sexism in Sports

Female athletes frequently face different standards when compared to men in the sports world. The Cambridge University Press published a study last week, "Aesthetics, athletics and the olympics," which highlights stark disparities between how male and female Olympians are written about by the media and shows that the Chicago Tribune's article about Cogdell-Unrein is in fact not that far from the norm.

"Using the Cambridge English Corpus (CEC) and the Sports Corpus, multi-billion word databases of written and spoken English language from a huge range of media sources, experts at Cambridge University Press have analysed millions of words relating to men and women and how they are described in language associated with the Olympic sports," the study explains.

According to the findings:

"Notable terms that cropped up as common word associations or combinations for women, but not men, in sport include 'aged', 'older', 'pregnant' and 'married' or 'un-married'. The top word combinations for men in sport, by contrast, are more likely to be adjectives like 'fastest', 'strong', 'big', 'real' and 'great' — all words regularly heard to describe male Olympians such as Usain Bolt.

"When it comes to performance, it seems as though men also have the competitive edge: we see 'men' or 'man' associated with verbs such as 'mastermind', 'beat', 'win', 'dominate' and 'battle', whereas 'woman' or 'women' is associated with verbs such as 'compete', 'participate' and 'strive'."

Related Story: Mansplaining for Soccer Pay Gap

Earlier this year, members of the U.S. Women's National Soccer Team filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) accusing the U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF) of wage discrimination, citing the higher pay earned by the male soccer team. Players on the women's team cited the fact that the men were compensated $9 million for a 2014 World Cup victory, compared to the $2 million the female team garnered for their win the following year.

The USSF provided numerous reasons for the differences in pay, including the fact that the women had negotiated for a different pay structure. However, the federation also cited maternity leave as a contributing factor and called providing it "revolutionary."

Related Story: Serena Williams, New York Times and Body Image

Like in Cogdell-Unrein's case, female athletes are frequently presented differently than their male counterparts by the media. Last year, the New York Times came under fire for its demeaning portrayal of tennis star Serena Williams.

Just one day before her Wimbledon victory last year, the Times published an article with the headline, "Tennis's Top Women Balance Body Image With Ambition." The context of the article compared Williams' physique to that of other female tennis players and added that the latter do not wish to emulate Williams' body type.

Writer Ben Rothenberg writes of Williams' "large biceps and mold-breaking muscular frame" and also quotes the tennis star as saying, "I'm really happy with my body type, and I'm really proud of it."

However, he then quotes white female tennis players who have said they don't want to look like Williams. In addition, the Times later sent a tweet accompanying the article, not highlighting Williams' accomplished tennis career but rather her allegedly undesirable body type.

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The racist and hate-filled rant against a Black woman riding on the Long Island Rail Road in New York is now under investigation by Metropolitan Transportation Authority officials.

Passengers said a man ranted for about 10 minutes, spewing racist and sexist slurs directed at another rider, 25-year-old Soraya Orelien.

"He made me feel disgusting," Orelien said in an interview Friday with WABC-TV. "He made me feel less than what I am. And I'm not the only one who has experienced this."

The incident occurred around 10 p.m. on April 19, but the video went viral last week. Orelien was on her cellphone speaking with a friend during her commute that originated at Penn Station. Hearing her talk on the phone enraged the man and he confronted her.

A woman named Aneesa Janat Rafeek, according to her Facebook page, was a passenger on the train that night and posted a video on her page showing a portion of the racist rant, which she also said lasted 10 minutes.

She explained:

"*Let me be clear about what prompted these nasty remarks*

"An African American woman was behind him speaking on the phone (not loudly in my opinion as I was sitting only diagonally from him and could not hear her).

"He started off by mumbling under his breath and then escalated to yelling at her about being a loud mouth b**ch. When another young woman, also Black, stood up for her, he continued to yell and then call[ed] them monkeys.

"What this video does not show — him getting up to get in the young [woman's] face to scream at her more. It was honestly so disgusting to witness.

"Say what you want in regards to 'both' sides being ignorant and needing to be quiet. Have someone start yelling profanities at you for being 'loud' and see how you react."

Orelien told Eyewitness News, "He came to my face and was like, 'Ooh ooh ahh ahh, you monkey,' and I just sat there. I just sat there, and I didn't say anything. I just said, 'You need to leave. Leave me alone. Please just walk away.'"

The Baruch College senior said she is coming forward and speaking about the incident as a reality check for others.

"I want people to know that this still happens!" Orelien told PIX11 News.

"I'm proud to be a strong Black woman in this day and age, and no one can talk to me like that."

Sources identified the man as Edward Ruggiero, a Manhattan stagehand and member of Local 1 IATSE, who lives in Long Beach, L.I., according to the NY Daily News. But he denies that it's him in the video.

Eyewitness News cameras went to the suspected man's home and confronted him on his porch.

"Get the story straight. Do you want to talk to us? You call yourself a journalist — get your f****** story straight!" he said. The man rushed inside before reporters could speak with him further.

An LIRR spokesperson told PIX11 in a statement:

"This language is offensive, completely inappropriate, and has no place in our society, let alone on the Long Island Rail Road. The MTA Police are actively investigating this report … Anyone who sees a situation like this unfolding should notify a conductor immediately. This absolutely falls under the mantra of: if you see something, say something."