Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Look Butt Don’t Touch

One more time for the cheap seats in back, namely Michelle Beadle, David Briggs and the folks over at @NBCSNCycling and NBC Sports, who I’m going to call out for being little more than ignorant talking heads. Here's the link to the video:


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.


  1. Thanks so much, Anna. A great post.

  2. Tiger Woods played golf morning, noon, and night. Under his father's watchful eye, he played golf every free moment of his childhood, youth, and young adulthood. He became, at a young age, a phenom, both naturally gifted and meticulously coached. By his own admission, he had zero time for girls, and was terribly socially stunted. In short, he didn't know how to talk to girls or behave on a date.

    Fast forward to his first years on the Tour: Tiger quickly became the number-one ranked golfer in the world. Amidst a cast of hundreds of pro golfers, the spotlight focused on him, and fans could not get enough of him. Along with his fame came golf-groupies, young women throwing themselves at both married and unmarried golfers, no questions asked. Some looking to put notches on their belts, a minority in predatory pursuit to entrap the wealthy pro athletes during a moment of weakness.

    Tiger finds his discomfort in dating women no hindrance to satisfying his carnal appetites, and he develops a taste for multiple, casual partners. It later costs him his marriage, many sponsors, his good name, and many millions of dollars.

    Today, we have Peter, a young kid who rides his bike, morning, noon, and night. Who has burst upon the field of pro cyclists as a phenom. Who has spent almost each and every free hour on a bike, and not dating girls, learning how to relate with women and respect them as individuals.

    Socially, he is a little awkward. But here he is, surrounded by adoring crowds and I suspect, more than a few cycling groupies. He has found that his own previous inabilities to pick up girls is no hindrance to finding female companionship today. As an immature kid, he sees every pretty woman as a potential bedmate as he's an attractive, famous athlete. Surely, in hotel lobbies around the world, such a belief has been proven to him many times over.

    The question is: Will he become Tiger Woods? Come to believe he's God's gift to women and treat them as nothing more than sexual playthings? Or has this one immature act shown him that such an attitude leads to embarrassment and criticism? Judging by his quick public apology, and later personal, private apology, complete with flowers, I'm guessing the latter.

    Welcome to the world of gentlemen, Peter. Display your respect for everyone and appreciation for all you've been given, especially when it comes to the women in your life.