Action sports and sexism: a match made in stupid heaven
So I’m watching a replay of this year’s Lingerie Football League Lingerie Bowl between the Los Angeles Temptation and the Chicago Bliss. Didn’t watch right till the end, but I’m pretty sure the final score was Butt Cheeks 32, Dignity 0.
Later, without flicking the remote, I watched Bikini Beach. Whoa. This lascivious grey-haired, stubbled-faced dude was “interviewing” bikini-clad women in a booty-shaking comp that was like pole dancing, minus the pole. At one point, he actually felt the contestants’ breasts to test their firmness, or silicon content, or lactative potential, or whatever the hell.
Both of these shows were on Fuel TV, the action sports channel which is beamed into 26 million American households and plenty here too. Switch to Channel 516 on your Foxtel at any given moment and you’ll likely see one of three things: snowboarding, motocross or boobs. Probably all three.
I actually enjoy a lot of Fuel TV’s content. Its afternoon variety program, Attack of the Show, is one of the quirkiest, cleverest shows on telly. I also want to make it clear that I’ve no moral objection to moobs, boobs, or even pubes being metaphorically stuffed down my throat - not during grown-up hours, anyway.
What I don’t get is why random girls in bikinis are as familiar a part of action sports coverage as the ubiquitous death metal soundtrack. One minute, you’re watching a designer dread-head shred the wild Chugach Range in Valdez, Alaska. The next, it’s jiggy jiggy time.
Mainstream sports often cop flak for being inherently sexist, with their cheergirls and whatnot. But if mainstream sport is a cake, cheerleaders are merely the icing. Action sports are an entire cake shaped like a bikini babe, with pink jellybeans for nipples and a few well-placed stripes of licorice.
Thankfully, there are some women in action sports who’ve fought and transcended the sexist landscape. Snowboarder Torah Bright and surfer Layne Beachley have made women’s action sports both wholesome and empowering. They are doers, not wallpaper.
But for the most part, the culture of action sports is still one where women are ogled, not admired. As an example, turn on Fuel TV any afternoon and watch the televisual spakfilla in skimpy bikinis known as the “Smokin’ Hotties”.
What’s the message here? That women - like steep mountains and huge waves and gnarly skateboard ramps - are objects to stare at with awe, and hopefully conquer one day?
Happy Easter. I’ll be sticking to bunnies of the chocolate variety. Well, as soon as I’ve finished watching the replay of the San Diego Seduction vs Dallas Desire match.
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