This article on Getty Images’ pictures of Olympic beach volleyball in the New York Metro caught my eye. It sums up pretty well the disparity between photography of women’s sporting events and men’s.
The media has been filled with pictures of bikini-clad backsides and leotard-covered crotches between akimbo’d legs. Is it meant to be titillating? Is it more important that spectators can get their jollies watching scantily clad female athletes than their performance and ability?
For the last week, one could be forgiven for thinking that the only significant women’s sporting event was beach volleyball. The internet appears to be positively crawling with creepy and tedious thigh-rubbing over what is essentially no more than female athletes playing a sport in… erm.. sportswear. I’m actually starting to wonder if the beach volleyball team really do have faces or simply consist of a group of arses. Check out this ugh-fest from the Bexley Times — they managed to get the word ‘babes’ into the headline. Even the BBC aren’t immune from it.
The level of excitement over beach volleyball is wholly disproportionate — as the Daily Mash put it:
“Horse Guards Parade had been packed with almost entirely male crowd who, in an era of unlimited free pornography, were still inexplicably getting their jollies from watching watch young women playing sports.”
Well, quite. There’s something of the lone perv avidly watching the local sixth form school netball practice about it all. And in a week where cycling silver medallist Lizzie Armitstead spoke out against the ‘overwhelming sexism’ in women’s sports, so-called comedian Frankie Boyle mocked swimming bronze medallist Rebecca Adlington’s looks on Twitter and Olympic weightlifter Zoe Smith was branded a ‘lesbian’.
There’s also a fairly high level of ‘I would’-ism out there too which appears to crop up when any female sportsperson is in the public eye, with pictures of the team arrayed for readers’ delectation as they pick out which one they’d fuck and which one they wouldn’t touch with yours. Unless they were drunk, obviously. How encouraging and flattering it must be for top sportswomen to be reduced to tits and arses and how fuckable they are. All those years spent training and all that hard work isn’t important, girls, unless some fumbling mince-wit wants to give you one.
Will the female Paralympics athletes will also be subject to the same level of schoolboy sniggering and voyeurism? I suspect their disabilities will automatically remove them from the media’s attractiveness pool and they’ll just be ignored instead. How very depressing that talent appears to come second to looks.