Tag Archives: female athletes

Sexing Up Female Atheletes

15 May

The following is a throwback post (#tbp) from 2008 when I was a content writer for Youthnoise.org (now Mobilize.org).

jenny adams

With all the hoopla (like this and this) surrounding the 2008 Olympic games, how could I not add my own little one-cent to the blogosphere hoopla as sort of a week ending round up.

TGIF!!

Okay, so Gawker dedicated a post this week to the top 25 Olympic Hotties ranging from U.S. swimmer Amanda Beard to U.S. wrestler TC Dantzler.  Profiling “hot” Olympic athletes in mainstream media is nothing new, it’s actually great for sponsorship and yep, it’s great for business.

In 2004, my fellow track and field teammate at the University of Houston, Jenny Adams, was featured on the cover of FHM’s Olympic Special Issue (incidentally, Jenny didn’t qualify for the Olympics that year which sucked because I was rooting for her hardcore).

Jenny-Adams_2

Jenny Adams (hey girl!)

Seeing as how most Olympic athletes aren’t necessarily rolling in the NBA or MLB dough, arguably these athletes have to take advantage of what they can during the Olympic season.

Although, I’m not quite sure how I feel about (what appears to be) the objectification of fe/male bodies in mainstream media.  (Yes, I’m putting that MA degree in Women’s Studies to use!).  I wouldn’t be “socially conscious” if I didn’t consider the potentially damaging image these athletes are portraying, or rather the image we, the folks, are buying into.

Am I over reacting?

Before answering, consider this question: what does Amanda Beard’s boobs have to do with her impressive seven Olympic medal performances? 

I don’t necessarily have an issue with homegirl covering FHM (she’s a grown woman so more power to her), but I wonder if sexualizing Olympic athletes is the way to go right now, especially with so many controversies surrounding human rights’ issues in Bejing, etc. And honestly, do we really need our top world athletes contributing to a sexually obsessed, and repressed, society???

Granted, escapism, in the form of Canadian diver Alexandre Despatie six pack, is refreshing especially during a time when everything else from the economy to foreign policy is in the dumps.  And don’t get me wrong; I’m down for the eye-candy once in awhile.  I can also get down with sex-positive feminism, but I just wonder what are we actually celebrating with these images: human agility and athletic performance or an athlete’s butt-cheeks in the foreground of photograph with the phrase ‘Golden Girls’ hanging below?

You get the point.

I remember growing up idolizing Florence Griffith Joyner in all her flamboyant outfits and long-neon-colored fingernails. I never understood Flo Jo’s image as ‘sexualized’ in any way (maybe that’s because I didn’t know what sexualized meant at the ripe old age of ten).  I was too focused on her superhuman ability to run a 100-meter dash in those eclectic outfits she wore.

(Yeah, yeah, yeah, I’m not going to get into the steroid controversy right now).

Point is, I understand that sexing-up athletes is nothing new, and the images of these “hotties” pales in comparison to some of the other sexualized images we see everyday via idiot box.

But I still can’t help but wonder what’s the point.