ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Olympians (L to R) Sanya Richards-Ross of the United States, Yarisley Silva of Cuba and Federica Pellegrini of Italy. Yüksel Aytuğ wrote female Olympians looked like men. AP, AFP, REUTERS photos
Turkish columnist Yüksel Aytuğ caused an online firestorm on Aug. 8 after penning an article that criticized the Olympic Games for "killing womanhood."
Aytuğ's piece, titled "Womanhood is dying at the Olympics," was published in daily Sabah and the paper's website but quickly spread after angering readers by saying the Olympic Games were destroying the female figure by distorting women's bodies and that points should be added to female Olympians based on how feminine they looked.
Aytuğ said women's associations should protest the Games and added that it was enough for him to "take a look at female swimmers" to reach that opinion.
"Broad-shouldered, flat-chested women with small hips; [they are] totally indistinguishable from men. Their breasts – the symbol of womanhood, motherhood – flattened into stubs as they were seen as mere hindrances to speed," Aytuğ said.
"I am not even talking about female javelin throwers, shot-put athletes, weightlifters, wrestlers and boxers," Aytuğ said. “Their appearance is just pathetic.”
Aytuğ said the Olympics forced women to "look more like men" in order to be successful and wrote about an ongoing "sporting violence against women," while criticizing what he called an understanding of "the manlier you look the more successful you are."
The columnist concluded by saying that female Olympians should be rewarded with additional bonus points based on how "feminine" they looked. "Otherwise we will destroy the grace and naïveté of women through the Olympics," he concluded.
Aytuğ was harshly criticized both by Twitter users and his female colleagues, who accused him of sexism and reducing the female identity to mere appearances.
Melis Alphan of daily Hürriyet called Aytuğ's approach to women "sad," saying the writer "apparently had no idea of what the women's associations did" when suggesting that they protest the Olympics.
Columnist Banu Tuna rhetorically asked Aytuğ if he deemed the term "woman" as a collection of breasts, legs and hips and suggested Aytuğ watch lingerie fashion shows instead of the Olympics. "Altuğ's column suggests the 'grace and naïveté' of women will be saved by Victoria's Secret angels," Tuna said.
The words "Yüksel Aytuğ" remained a worldwide trending topic on Twitter for several hours as users went on to slam the columnist. The tweets ranged from honest to tongue-in-cheek criticisms to straight-out insults.
Some few users, however, said Aytuğ's views that women were subjected to forms of training that made their bodies lose their feminine appearance could have been acceptable if he had not become "lost" in his column by "delving too deeply into breasts and buttocks."