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The Swimsuit Issue: 2009

So the latest Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue just hit my mailbox today. And as usual, I'm not really sure what I think about it. todayskyswim.jpg

Featuring a near non-existant string bikini and several very tiny beautiful women of different ethnicities, this issue caters almost exclusively to male audiences. Probably a turn off for most feminist minded people out there. And yet women make up 90% of the coverage--a rarity in sports media. Something that should excite a whole bunch of us.

All it does is confuse me.

Now, I don't really have too much of a problem with the bathing suit clad women. If men are stupid enough to pay for pictures of women in bathing suits, then more power to the women who get paid to wear bathing suits.

Where I have the problem is when female athletes strip down. In this issue, racer Danica Patrick and tennis players Daniela Hantuchova and Tatiana Golovin (among others) all did some posing. And again, although I don't have a problem with the skin, per se, I do have a problem that it seems like female athletes get the most attention in the swimsuit issue (as opposed to regular issues with normal coverage of sports).

When do female athletes get to be plain old athletes? Or, if they want to venture out into other industries, why aren't rapping, movie making, grill cooking, broadcasting, etc (ala The Shack and George Foreman most prominently) where the lucrative money lies?

Why is the money always in the undressing?

Don't answer that, I know the answer.

What I *don't* know the answer to is how to create more space for female athletes to not only get more exposure as genuine respected athletes, but also how to create more choices for women in general. Because although this post centers sports, in all reality, baring skin remains one of the more consistent spaces where women can earn tons of money out in the non-sporting world as well.

How do we make more choices for women? How do we create more value in the work women produce?

On a side note, the model on the cover of the SI, Bar Refaeli, will also have her lovely mug plastered across a Southwest airplane. You can see a picture of the airplane here. My thoughts? She better have gotten a nice paycheck out of that crap.

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Comments

12 comments have been made. Post a comment.

When women get to be plain old athletes

Women get to be plain old athletes in roller derby, of course.

Yes, derby "girls" embrace their sexiness as athletes as men do. Please. Since when is a sweaty man in a pair of loose shorts and a tank top throwing a basketball *not* sexy.

In roller derby we embrace the stereotypes and reclaim them as our own. We're not afraid to be sexy, but also work hard, skate hard, work team, and run the business of semi-professional sports.

Roller Derby is the American sport of the 21st century. Besides creating a sport of plain old athleticism for women, Roller Derby will be the first sport to embrace true co-ed athletics.

Men's roller derby is a misnomer. In men's roller derby, the sport is truly gender blind with men, women, and transsexuals playing next to each other on the same track (sure to be banned in 17 southern states). In roller derby size and shape does not matter - all sizes are welcome.

ESPN has kind of covered roller derby with the "lawyer by day, sexy kitten by night" story. But real press like the New York Times covered the 2009 WFTDA nationals with real sports coverage.

While beginner leagues still adopt campy uniforms, the real roller derby of this century - flat track, banked, women's or co-ed - is when women get to be plain old athletes.

The one problem

How much are female roller derby athletes compensated, versus male basketball players?

Amateur vs. Amateur

I imagine that amateur roller derby athletes get paid similarly to amateur basketball athletes...nada.

reply to Swimsuit Issue 2009

We create more value in the work women produce by buying their work. My armchair survey of the situation is that my feminist colleagues snub their noses at capitalism. They'd rather spend their money on multicolored hemp hoodies, vegan lip balm and Doc Martens (not that there's anything wrong with that).

Women who are concerned with women's work might not spend their money on a glossy magazine dedicated to legitimate (or did I mean "clothed") female athletes. if we used our buying power to support that the publishers would accommodate. Maybe if Oprah endorsed it....hmmm.

I agree...

I also don't know how to feel about this. There are so many talented female athletes out there who don't get the credit they deserve, but I also don't see a problem with a swimsuit issue. I think that these talented women should get more mainstream coverage AND do the swimsuit issue because feminist or not, I can't help but adore seeing all those gorgeous women in bikinis. ;)

I think we are all missing something here...

Yeah, yeah - it's fine to be sexually liberated, but we already won that fight. Why do women constantly have to remind everybody that we are allowed to take our clothes off? That isn't the problem in today's world and we need to stop including that at the end of every sentence.

Face it, there is a big problem with magazines like this and it doesn't just involve the fact that it is disrespectful to women's sports. Let's look at the whole picture.

Women are constantly seen as sexual objects. It doesn't matter what sports we play, if we own a business, or if we are capable of being president - we better be stereotypically attractive and ready and willing or the jig is up.

Doesn't it bother you that every picture that you see in that magazine is telling you have to look this way and bend that way? If you don't recognize the fact that Sports Illustrated is sexist, you are ignoring the real problem. We should not accept publications that present this type of limited beauty standard. We should be proud of every shape and size that we are. Women have been brainwashed to believe that this standard is ok, because we are supposed to be sexual. Sexual for whom, I ask? Our sexuality is supposed to be for us, and not for society's controlling standards. We have given away our sexuality to the hands of businessmen who have created rules that we must obey. If we don't obey these rules then are bodies are not 'officially approved'.

So no, I disagree with all of you. Yes, I thinks it's horrible that women's sports are being disrespected and I agree that female athletes should be recognized for their athletic abilities, but I DO NOT AGREE that this magazine is healthy, powerful, or sexually liberating.

If you want more information about Unhealthy Body Image check out this website - http://loveyourbody.nowfoundation.org/

show athletes in athletic settings AND in swimsuits

No, I agree with KristinS. I'm not saying that the only way a woman should be/look is how these women in this magazine look (and I'm sure they were airbrushed anyway). I'm not saying that every person doesn't have a right to define their own beauty… but these women are hot. They are sexy. And no, it's not because I've been brainwashed by men to think so, I really do think so. (and yes, I'm female). I've never understood how if you think a woman who looks one way (i.e. maybe bigger or wearing this outfit vs that) is beautiful, then it's ok as a woman, but the second you think that a woman who looks another way (i.e. thinner, made up, etc) is beautiful, then it's because you've been brainwashed. I honestly think that women are capable of having independent thought to think that either, or both, are beautiful. I don't even read this magazine but I agree that they should also focus on women athletes, and have articles about them as athletes as well as models. But if these athletes, women or men, choose to pose for this type of photoshoot as well, why not?

I do think that it is fine

I do think that it is fine for the athletes to be in there bikinis because they do get respect from there sport and from the people that watch the sport. Not all of the Sports Illustrated issues just talk about men in their respected sports in the February 29, 2009 issue on page 24 there is an article about the North Carolina State women's basketball team who wore all pink jerseys to support their coach because she was battling with breast cancer. Women do get respected in most issues of Sports Illustrated.

Danica doesn't care about objectification

I think the bigger problem is that many of these female athletes live and grow up in a world where they see women in magazines and other media, using their bodies as a marketing tool and getting paid doing it. The greater issue of ethical responsibility never enters their minds because they either don't care or don't know that these actions can have an negative impact on society. I don't know if Danica ever really sat down and considered the fact that as a woman, she is not only unique in the race car circuit but a roll model for little girls that aspire to be like her. When Danica puts on a bikini and lays across a car, what message is she sending to the girls who might see that? Is Danica troubled that there are probably thousands of men masturbating to her pictures - is this what she wants to contribute to the sport of racing? To be known as the hot car driver guys can fap to, record be damned?

I don't know if there are easy answers, but I'd like to see someone at least ask Danica the questions ( hint hint bitch magazine).

Do the female athletes understand the implications?

I think the bigger problem is that many of these female athletes live and grow up in a world where they see women in magazines and other media, using their bodies as a marketing tool and getting paid doing it. The greater issue of ethical responsibility never enters their minds because they either don't care or don't know that these actions can have an negative impact. I don't know if Danica ever really sat down and considered the tact that as a woman, she is not only unique in the race car circuit but a roll model for little girls that aspire to be like her. When Danica puts one a bikini and lays across a car, what message is she sending to the girls who might see that? Is Danica troubled that there are probably thousands of men masturbating to her pictures - is this what she wants to contribute to the sport of racing? To be known as the hot car driver, record be damned?

I don't know if there are easy answers, but I'd like to see someone at least ask Danica the questions ( hint hint bitch magazine).

Just to add another layer to

Just to add another layer to this issue - I picked up my local newspaper this morning (which, even being from Canada, must be suffering from top-down budget restrictions or reformatting, for it's become SO provincial in news coverage, with only half a page at the back 'dedicated' to world news, which is usually world news pertaining to Canada, and trade agreements..) Anyyways, I picked up the paper and in the Arts section, the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition qualified as news. There was that cover page, one of the only pictures on the page aside from ads, describing how Bar is now the cover model, and that the magazine will feature female athletes 'baring almost all of it' as well. This was from the Reuters news wire. Anyone else spot this in their paper? Is this news? Isn't this just selling a magazine/hyping the objectification? (Like others who posted here, I'm mainly against the attention being paid to athletes because of the suits, and the fact that it's supposed to be the definitive magazine of it's genre, but female athletes are most represented in the magazine during it's swimsuit edition - and what's the relevance to sports?) I just had a gut-wrenching feeling when reading that article, that it did not belong in a newspaper. Maybe at the back in a little blurb, where apparently news from the rest of the world has been relegated.

Sum of our (lady) parts

I thought the public problem of over-exposed waxed female nether regions went the way of the buffalo back when Britney got sane.