We distinguish between thinking, speaking, and acting. You can think whatever you want. You can say almost anything you want. But when it comes to acting, the law makes it clear: you need to be mindful of other people’s right to be left alone. Models sign up to be pretty, to be judged by their looks, and to be desired, possibly even in the most sinful of carnal ways. Models don’t sign up to be touched. In the United States, we reject touching in the workplace so completely that you aren’t even allowed to touch the woman who is shoving her naked vagina into your face (maintaining a torturous one inch of air space) at a strip club. Touching someone, especially in a sexual manner, without their permission is a significant infraction. This is why Americans are particularly incensed about the Peter Sagan butt-pinch seen round the world.
Am I outraged? No. I think he’s immature and unprofessional. I don’t think his actions are representative of the entire peloton (as evidenced from the fact podium girls are almost never inappropriately touched on stage). At this point, I also think he’s been punished one hundred times over relative to the severity of his offense. Whatever you may think of Mr. Sagan, he did apologize quickly, sincerely, and without making excuses. He’s no Lance Armstrong – I may have cupped her butt, but I never actually pinched it.
Dear Michelle Beadle,
Congratulations, you have succeeded in removing all doubt. You don’t appear to know anything about the Ronde van Vlaanderen, Peter Sagan, Fabian Cancellara (the winner), and cycling in general and neither does your co-host, who doesn’t even appreciate that finishing second at the RVV against Fabian Cancellara, one of the most established classics riders in the peloton, is more than a “decent finish.” Perhaps you shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss the intelligence of a woman who undoubtedly knows more about what you’re talking about than you do.
You’re right. The butt-pinch doesn’t warrant one-tenth of the media coverage and outrage it’s received. You could make the argument that a scantily-clad woman at a night club should expect to be fondled by some of the patrons and I would agree with you, as would my mother and every other woman I know. Doesn’t make it right, but it happens all the time. People typically go to night clubs with the specific intent of mixing and mingling for romantic purposes. The awards ceremony for a family-friendly sport isn't a night club.
Though I agree the world is sometimes too sensitive and a simple butt-pinch shouldn’t get so much attention, your dismissive attitude towards Maja Leye and all podium girls – that they should expect to be groped while doing their job simply because they are pretty young women who are “walking into” a horde of presumably horny cavemen masquerading as professional cyclists and we, the viewing public, should condemn them for an apparent lack of intelligence, ambition, and self-respect – demonstrates an unsettling degree of intolerance.
Our mothers and grandmothers fought for us to have a choice, not to have society make it for us. Criticizing a woman for wanting to profit from her beauty today is no better than criticizing a woman for wanting to profit from her brain sixty years ago. It’s wrong to assume that because a woman is modeling that all she wants to be is a model. That’s like assuming a kid flipping burgers only wants to flip burgers for the rest of his/her life. Modeling can be a lucrative and powerful career choice (*cough*Tyra Banks). Time in front of the camera can open many doors in the entertainment industry. Maybe the podium girl gigs are the necessary stepping stones for Ms. Leye to climb the entertainment industry ladder. Maybe she’s gunning for your job and beyond. I know several women who did similar part-time modeling gigs to pay for school. Three of them are now lawyers, one is a pharmacist, and another is a doctor. Don’t assume a woman who is profiting from her beauty is a vapid idiot with no intelligence, ambition, or self-respect. And even if she is, why do you care? And why does it mean she should accept being fondled as part of her job?
“Shouldn’t you want more for your daughter?” I want my future children to be healthy, independent, and happy. However they achieve those goals is up to them.
Over and out. The Sagan saga is finished. Pais Vasco is in full-effect and Paris-Roubaix is fast approaching. There are much more interesting things in cycling to talk about.