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Chinese Swimmer Fu Yuanhui Breaks Barriers With Comment About Period In Rio


Fu Yuanhui fielding questions during interview with Chinese news site Weibo after she won bronze medal in 100-meter backstroke swimming competition. Image Credit: YouTube

Chinese swimmer breaks taboo by discussing her period at Rio Olympic games.

Chinese swimmer Fu Yuanhui, 20, may have only taken home the bronze medal for the 100-meter backstroke, but that didn’t stop this rising star of Chinese athletics from making headlines at this year’s Olympic games.

Gifted with a magnetic, blunt personality, Yuanhai has already drawn a legion of fans into her corner in Rio with her take-it-in-stride approach to not winning gold, saying that she “surpassed herself,” which, in the grander scheme of things, is what truly matters. Days later, after the Chinese swimming team came up short of winning a medal in the 4×100 medley relay race, she put her spunk and “exuberance” to use again when she freely discussed being on her period as she competed with her team.

Related: Feminism a Strong Contender in Rio Olympics

According to the New York Times, the comment came during the post-race interview. A reporter noticed that Yuanhui was visibly in pain after the team contest. He assumed the source of her pain was a stomachache. Without missing a beat, Yuanhui corrected his assumption, candidly responding:

“It’s because I just got my period yesterday, so I’m still a bit weak and really tired. But this isn’t an excuse for not swimming well.”

Her comment comes at a moment in social and political history when the subject of menstruation is still taboo in China and other parts of the world, and men are still prone to period-shaming.

Once again, Olympic athletes — whether African American women defying racist stereotypes or Chinese women raising consciousness of the world about antiquated patriarchal myths about women’s bodies — are using their platform to service social activist causes.



Antwan is an educator, cultural critic, actor, and writer for Wear Your Voice Mag (WYV), where he focuses on the dynamics of class, race, gender, politics, and pop culture. Prior to joining the team at WYV, he was an adjunct professor in the African American Studies Department at Valdosta State University in southern Georgia, where he taught African American Literature. He has traveled the U.S. and U.K. showcasing a fifty-five minute, one-person play titled Whitewash, which focuses on the state of black men in the post-civil rights era. Antwan received his B.A. in English and Literature from California State University, Dominguez Hills, and M.A. in African American Studies from University of California, Los Angeles. He is a Ronald E. McNair Scholar and NAACP theater nominee.

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