Outside the marginals

a commentary on the politics that followed the UK 2010 & 2015 elections

Podium ponderings

Sometimes the reporting of a story leaves you wondering:

Organisers of the Lotto Cycling Cup have apologised after the winners of a women’s race in Belgium were flanked by models wearing bikinis. … [image]

Dutch racing cyclist and journalist Marijn de Vries  described the scene as “an utter disgrace”.
BBC Sport Website 16 June 2015 : Lotto Cycling Cup organisers apologise for bikini models

What exactly caused the offence?

  • That the “models” were inappropriately dressed?
  • That the “models” were inappropriately gendered?
  • That it was necessary to adorn a podium with “models”?
  • The fashion faux-pas of bikinis and stilettos?

The story does not actually say!

But if we do feel a little uneasy about this “situation”, should we also feel uneasy about “podium girls” at the end of stages in men’s cycling races or “grid girls” and “podium girls” in F1 (and other motor sport)? What about Blatter’s blond?

Certainly these “girls” (which is what they are called even though they are probably all in their twenties) are there to be “decorative” and to look adoringly at male competitors or officials, but what does it say about attitudes? Should there be gender equality of objectification by the inclusion of “buff boys” in these situations? After all if these “girls” are meant to make the “gladiatorial” boys of F1 feel good, shouldn’t we also allow for the possibility of female (or gay male) drivers? Or do the drivers actually need to have their egos massaged by a row of simpering females applauding them as they leave park fermé for the podium?

(It looks even odder when the situation is “toned down” when F1 takes place in more “conservative” countries.)

If their function is purely decorative would their absence actually allow more focus on the athletes? And if they do have a function (such as carrying medals at an Olympic medal ceremony) do they need to be wearing bikinis and do they need to be twenty-something pretty predominantly white women?

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