Monday, April 1, 2013

The Butt-Pinch Seen ‘Round the World

With Twitter in an uproar about the photo of Peter Sagan pinching the butt of the podium girl kissing Fabian Cancellara’s cheek on the podium at the Ronde van Vlaanderen, all I can say is that Operation: Steal Spartacus’s Thunder is a raging success. By the way, Fabian Cancellara won the race.

 

Oh, that’s right. I’m supposed to be so furious with Mr. Sagan that I forget all about Mr. Cancellara’s stellar win. Hold on, let me find my pitchfork. Shoot, I seem to have lost it after the last Lance Armstrong unconstitutional vendetta witch hunt rally. On second thought, I would rather eat some ice cream and replay footage of Marianne Vos sprinting to victory for the fifty-millionth time. After that, I’m going to be a demeaning sexist jerk and ogle photos of fabulous Fabian. Meow!

 

Including podium girls in the ceremony isn’t sexist or demeaning to women. First of all, ladies if you don’t want to be hired and admired because of your beauty, then don’t become a model. If you’re a model who doesn’t want to kiss a strange man’s cheek and deal with the advances of a bunch of horny professional cyclists, then don’t become a podium girl. Please, people, stop acting like podium girls are forced onto the stage in super skimpy dresses to perform sexual favors for the gawking public. Podium ceremonies are light-hearted pomp and circumstance. When was the last time you saw a podium girl costume that was sexually suggestive? The dresses are typically more comical than revealing and most of them would pass muster at any good Southern tea party, especially when there’s a ridiculous hat involved. They’re a far cry from anything most women wear to night clubs. When was the last time you saw a podium girl kiss that was sexually suggestive? The light “show kiss” is hardly sexual slavery. Calm down; y’all are overreacting. If you want to go after sexist and demeaning attitudes towards women, then I’d like to direct your attention to burkas.

 

Women’s cycling isn’t lagging men’s cycling because of podium girls. Women’s cycling is a new sport. It’s made significant advancements in the last ten years. It takes time to build an audience. Superstars like Marianne Vos, who won the women’s RVV today, are paving the way for the sport’s continued growth. These advancements will continue regardless of the involvement of podium girls in the men’s ceremonies. For crying out loud, Afghanistan now has a national women’s cycling team – AFGHANISTAN, a country notorious for its suppression of women’s liberties (including the use of burkas). If that isn’t progress, then I don’t know what is. Here's the link to the story on the Afghan women's team: http://www.nbcnews.com/video/nightly-news/51355537#51355537

On a global scale, across cultures and genders, civil rights movements of the last century have all sought to produce the same result: freedom of choice. Stop hating on the women who want to be models and podium girls. It’s ok to want to be pretty. It’s ok to actively try to be pretty. Being pretty and profiting from prettiness isn’t sexist or demeaning. I’m so tired of the calls for the decimation of feminine sexuality in the name of protecting women’s liberties.

 

That being said, Mr. Sagan was out of line in pinching the podium girl’s butt. Her lack of a response shouldn’t be interpreted to mean she wasn’t offended. Of course she didn’t slap him across the face on stage because that would’ve been as unprofessional as the butt-pinch was in the first place. The general uproar defending the podium girl’s right to perform her job without being subjected to Mr. Sagan’s wandering hands clearly demonstrates the exact opposite of what everyone is shouting about. No one thinks podium girls are sex objects who’ve “made themselves available” to the peloton. The public recognizes and respects the impenetrable distinction between being a model presenting awards and being a beautiful creature at the petting zoo. Hands off, buddy. Podium girls are to be visually enjoyed, not physically touched.

 

Mr. Sagan has since apologized on Twitter. I think it’s safe to say that every podium girl will be free from wandering hands for many years to come.

 

And now some words of wisdom from a sage “older” woman…

 

Dear Mr. Sagan,

 

Women have a funny way of making it abundantly clear when they want you to touch them. Wait for the invitation. I doubt you’ll have to wait long.

 

/s/ Anna Z.

 

12 comments:

  1. I disagree.

    Firstly, just because there are worse forms of sexism in this world (and there are of course many, and far closer to home than Afghanistan - for a start, 1300 women a year are murdered by their domestic partners in the United States alone) doesn't make a more minor form of sexism acceptable.

    And, yes, the presence of podium girls is sexist. However stylized it may be, the whole ritual has the obvious undercurrent that women are offered up as the prize for a man's athletic prowess. If that's not the message, why the faux-50's pinup costumes and the double kiss for the photographers? Aside from a few incidental crowd shots, podium girls were the *only* women featured in the Ronde telecast. Yeah, sure, a vanishingly small number of cycling nuts heard about Vos's win in the women's race, but in terms of the television audience? The kids that might have been watching? The only role for women is as eye candy and a prize for the winner. And it's a bad message for a sport to be sending out.

    As a hetero man, I'm all for pretty women. But I don't see WTF pretty women of no particular athletic talent have to do with winning a bicycle race, and the sooner that the anachronism is gone, the better. Do what every other sport does, and get former winners to present the trophies.

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    1. Is it not sexist to rank men according to something so archaic as their physical prowess?

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    2. rgmerk, Sounds like a lot of pent up anger. Was it wrong for Sagan to pinch her but? Yes, but in the big picture, is it a big deal? no. Was she harmed? No, perhaps slightly embarrassed. This really should be between the podium "girl" and Sagan. If you wan't to get upset and angry about something and expend mental energy ranting about something, aren't there bigger fish to fry? Here are a few suggestions: crushing public debt, massive corruption in govt., a broken healthcare system, pollution, women's rights in the middle east, catastrophic wealth inequality, etc. etc. Just trying to put this in perspective.

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    3. Anna, thanks for a great article. One of the first people to tweet this picture was the sexist RaceRadio, who first claimed it was "funny" and then lied and pretended he was offended by it.

      Everyone knows that this RaceRadio is a sockpuppet for Daniel Benson at cyclingnews.com. He and Susan Westemeyer, both ravage misogynists, who will not allow references to your blog and who have threatened you in the past, are daily displaying women as objects on their website.

      Then they go and write this really BS article pretending they are offended by the butt-pinch: http://www.cyclingnews.com/features/the-bottom-line-on-sagans-flanders-podium-pinch

      At the same time they publish that article, they also continue run a portrait show intended to objectify women: http://forum.cyclingnews.com/showthread.php?t=2133&page=580

      A group of the Clinic 12 sockpuppet pervs swap pictures of unsuspecting women's breasts and bottoms on Twitter: @JimSteel56 (The Hog - so appropriately named) @mewmewmew13 (thirteen) and @sitting_bison (an Anna stalker) @chewbacca and @wildeone. Daniel Benson is also among their Twitter correspondences. Jim Steele lives in Holland and removed his twitter account after his evil was brought to light. The poster on cyclingnews.com's Forum who revealed this cycling news behavior was permanently banned.

      All I am saying is that the cycling news media does objectify women and promote a skewed view of women in sports.

      Perhaps you can discuss this British tabloid behavior with Susan Ticknor Westemeyer, Responsible for the monitoring of CN Forum; European Correspondent; Am Justusberg 45, 41849 Wassenberg, Deutchland; +49 02432 8 11 99; http://ticks-tricks.blogspot.com

      It needs to stop.

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  2. well done finally - please, can we now put this matter to rest

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  3. Thank you, Anna. More prose from a carefully considered perspective. Smart, thank you.

    Rgmerk, the next time you win a Spring Classic or any other one of cycling's "greats," I'd like to see you refuse the kiss of a podium girl! They are tradition that stands for more than a beautiful woman and a quick smooch - they're there as a simple expression of the beauty and passion found in the sport of cycling. What better way to display that beauty than a sweet kiss from an attractive woman? Her kiss has a deeper meaning, actually - it signifies a desire to be the winner of such an incredible display of physical strength, teeth-grinding tenacity, and unwavering determination. Everyone wants to be on that podium, to stand there and seal the glorious accomplishment with a kiss. And everyone wants that photo, that autograph, that handshake, that hug, or even that quick kiss from the one who managed to conquer such a battle as the Ronde! The podium celebration is a way for us common folk to say "thank you and congrats" We just use good-looking people and a kiss to do the job. Yes, a simply handshake from the previous year's winner may be a ceremonial option; however, other than reminding us of the past, it lacks that desire or passion of the present. The girls represent you, myself, Anna, your brother-in-law, or your chatty group-ride buddy - the kiss is a collective "thank you" from the fans as well as an official kick-off for the celebration to begin.

    While you're at it, how about explaining the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders for us?! Pretty sure NFL cheerleaders have been doing their "dirty dancing" on the field for nearly all of the 47 Super Bowls?! Explain their purpose in the sport of American Football? Perhaps their presence on the field also represents the fan's desire for greatness - their passionate love of the game and thirsty appetite for greatness!? Who knows? Maybe they're there to help the fans cheer? Well, then why do they need to wear those suggestive outfits?! Regardless, they're also fulfilling a tradition in that sport similarly to the sport of cycling. And I'm sure they've enjoyed a butt-pinching or two along the way?!

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  4. You're smart and hot too! Feel free to reverse that order if you wish

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  5. You are correct Anna. It was refreshing to read something articulate and reasoned. People are reacting to this as if it's the scandal of the century. These simpletons are acting as if there are no other problems in the world and Peter Sagan is the only person on the planet that is holding up a perfect world.

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  6. 'Of course she didn’t slap him across the face on stage because that would’ve been as unprofessional'

    She absolutely should have done so,unfortunately,and this is the real problem,she would never be on a podium again,total disgrace.

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  7. If women's cycling eventually gets to be anywhere near on a par with men's, I suggest we have toy boys on the podium in tight jeans to give the awards out. Of course, they won't be exploited because they'll want to do it, so that's OK, then, isn't it?

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    1. " . . . they won't be exploited because they'll want to do it, so that's OK, then, isn't it?"

      Yes, I think that's exactly Ms. Zimmerman's point.

      Delete
  8. Anna, thank you for the great article!

    There will always be uptight, hypocritical people with double standards trying to police and impose their way of thinking on others. Apparently many of them are fully consumed by their naive, idealistic view of the world where all creatures are created equal, etc.

    Well, this could be a bit of an eye-opener to some, but men are actually different from women (and vice versa), no matter which way you try to spin it. It's nature, things are different by nature and it's fact and if you don't like it than it's too bad.

    Women's cycling advances but simply doesn't have as long of a history as men's sport. How would you argue with that?

    Maybe having podium girls is an archaic concept, but I'm sure the sponsors will be the first ones to back it up since beauty makes money and that's an indisputable fact. These girls made a choice to play in the boys' playground and there are rules and certain quirks they have to live with. You certainly don't get all sensitive when the same things happen to runway models or starting Hollywood actresses... It is a choice they made, plain and simple.

    Sagan's butt grab would get minimal attention (from all parties involved) if this wasn't Tweeted by the media instantly all over the world.

    ...and all of us nicely played into the hands of newsmakers


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