My politics dictate that no human being should ever be robbed of his or her dignity by being objectified. Reducing someone to an erotic symbol deprives the person of his or her inherent worth and nullifies any effort he or she makes to rise above the ordinariness of human life. People should be recognized for their talents; when they excel in public endeavors, they shouldn’t win even greater accolades for their sexual appeal, nor be disgraced for their lack of it. Sexual objectification of any person in any form should be deemed unacceptable.
Unless the person’s an athlete. Then we should objectify them ‘til the cows come home.
My political sisters are getting into a tizzy over this week’s Sports Illustrated cover which features Lindsey Vonn, an Olympic skier, in a position that could only be described as “totally pervy.” Ms. Vonn is shown careening down a fake mountain with her backside raised so high in the air you’d think she was readying herself for a colonoscopy. Supposedly, this is a normal position in skiing, although even the most erotically brain-dead reader would have to admit the girl looks like she’s about to take it where the sun don’t shine.
One does get annoyed at how often exceptional women in sports, entertainment and even politics, eventually have to be tarted up to appeal to the general public. Lady singers with powerhouse voices go from being song birds to strippers – Mariah, Aguilera, whatsername Furtado – while many women who’ve trained their whole lives to bring home the gold eventually land in Maxim in their bikinis.
True, the weight of a woman’s personal power disintegrates once she’s been reduced to a masturbatory tool. True, dips like Sarah Palin and the current crop of equally dippy Hollywood starlets offend by securing spots on the cultural landscape simply because of their over-the-top hotness. The culture seems to believe no one will pay attention to anything females do unless their boobies are jiggling while they’re doing it, or in the case of women like Hillary Clinton, unless we can simultaneously talk about what poorly dressed hags they are.
On the other hand, if there was anyone over whom we should be salivating for purely hormonal reasons, it’s athletes. Athletes fascinate solely because of the way their bodies look, work and move. They are Adonises and Athenas whose greatest contribution to our world is physical. As spectators, we take part in the fantasy of our own bodies possessing such beauty and strength, and we get an erotic charge watching them as fans.
Who’s ever solicited an opinion on politics or culture from a sports star? The Iraq war starts or Barack Obama gets elected and the media asks every celebrity known to man, including dumbies like Paris Hilton, what they think about it. When the economy collapsed, was anyone asking, “I wonder what Peyton Manning’s thoughts are on how bank solvency and damaged investor confidence may have impacted global stock markets.”
I mean, when I see an ad with David Beckham’s boner in a pair of Armani undies, it hardly degrades his accomplishments in my eyes. In fact, it reinforces them. Of course a man with enough physical prowess to hit a ball dead center into a net with his forehead has to be a sexual dynamo as well. We already think of our athletes as empty-headed studs and studlets and pay them handsomely for it. Why not go all the way? Why not show an ad with, say, Reggie Bush half naked or Tom Brady with his fingers in the shape of a triangle over his mouth and his tongue poking through?
Lindsey Vonn is pretty. Seeing her on Sports Illustrated in a normal, though slightly exaggerated skiing position while being named “America’s Best Woman Skier Ever,” is not as offensive as seeing her on the cover of Maxim in a thong “showing us the money.”
Here’s what I propose. Let’s keep the sexual objectification of athletes and get rid of the objectification we foist onto everyone else. Let singers sing, actors act and politicians proposition cops in bathrooms. Let’s leave it to athletes to do what they do best: maintain rock hard bods and score.
**Reprinted from Laura K. Warrell's blog Tart and Soul at www.TartandSoul.com.