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The SI swimsuit challenge: What’s a mom to do?

February 21, 2012 – 11:18 AM

  

 

By Katie Culver

There is not a lot of media coverage of female athletes, but when there is I like my daughter, who is five years old, to see it. I try to records as many women’s sporting events as I can for her to watch.

Recently, we were watching the U.S. vs. Canada women’s soccer game on TV. As a 5-year-old, she’s a tough media consumer — few events hold her attention for long.

But on this day, we were excitedly watching and cheering on Alex Morgan, Hope Solo, and Abby Wambach. We noticed their incredible skills and talked about the positions they play on the field. My daughter was particularly taken with Alex Morgan with her tenacious play and goal-scoring drive (and yes, her pink headband, too).

For me, watching women’s sports is really important. I want female athletes to be household names that my daughter and sons recognize, talk about, and admire.

So I have to tell you, I am incredibly disappointed in Alex Morgan.  Along with two other athletes, Morgan is featured in this year’s SI Swimsuit Issue, much like teammate, Hope Solo, who bared all for ESPN the Magazine last summer. Beyond my disappointment that she would actually pose in SI for the annual sexist, exploitation of women issue (and more 0ften now, exploitation of female athletes), Morgan is NAKED, wearing only a painted-on bikini.

Even more disturbing for me was the accompanying interview in which she justified her choice, stating that because women get paid less than men, “We do need to branch out and look at different avenues to make more for ourselves. There are some things like modeling, but other athletes can do things like coaching or broadcasting.”

Why is getting naked the opportunity successful women too often embrace?

I don’t buy the quasi-feminist argument that they are empowered in displaying their bodies, in the name of making money and more recognition. I expect more from female athletes. They need to be the ones challenging the media’s degradation of women; who are proud enough of their athletic skills as world-class soccer players and courageous enough to say “no” to Sports Illustrated and any other media stronghold that continues to publish only what sells and not what makes this world a better place for women; to work to insist that women be valued for their skills and smarts, rather than STILL, ONLY—or at least over everything else—THE ATTRACTIVENESS OF THEIR BODIES!

So as a mother, what do I do now (except hope that my daughter never sees these pictures)?

The superstars — like members of the US women’s national team — are people that little girls like my daughter look up to and emulate. They need to keep the standards high, taking themselves as seriously off the field as they do on. Luckily we have Mia Hamm and Julie Foudy, Billie Jean King and many others who are committed to their responsibility as role models for young girls. Alex and Hope, maybe you can learn something from them.

 

 

  1. 7 Responses to “The SI swimsuit challenge: What’s a mom to do?”

  2. Hey Katie,

    I’m wondering why you think that Solo and Morgan aren’t allowed the same autonomy as an out lesbian like King. I guess it’s all about women’s empowerment unless they empower themselves in some way other than your politically correct manner.

    Solo and Morgan own their lives. Frankly it’s perspectives like your’s that have driven the self-identified feminists down to less that 20% of the U.S. female population.

    Hopefully your son’s know enough already to ignore you.

    By Bern on Feb 29, 2012

  3. Other than being derogatory towards Katie, not sure what your argument is?

    Feminism that promotes the male view to allow women to objectify themselves, isn’t really feminism.

    Yes, Solo and Morgan own their lives, but one would hope that self respecting women wouldn’t see need to objectify themselves, rather they would find better uses of their “status” to promote better things like getting better/more fair access to sports.

    If you have children, I hope they’re smart enough to pay attention.

    By JT on Mar 4, 2012

  4. Work on your comprehension. It isn’t your or Katie’s job to decide the appropriate way for other women validate themselves or their status in sports, society or anywhere else. Your personal value judgement that Morgan’s decision reflects the “male view” is just that, your personal view. Is there some magical feminist thinking that somehow makes your opinion more valid than Morgan’s? If so please advise.

    I find it more than ironic that people posting from sites like this are so quick to denigrate other women when their choices don’t fit gender feminist dogma. Thanks for revalidating my original post. You don’t want women free to make their own decisions, you want them to make decisions that are in line with your politics. Not honest and not cool.

    Trust me when I say I have children and they are fully aware of of the objective facts versus the propaganda you people pitch as the view of “women”. Your party is coming to an end.

    Based upon Katies most recent post to WTS her first grade son has already figured out how to ignore her feminist programing. Good for him.

    By Bern on Mar 6, 2012

  5. You might have noted in this post that my biggest problem was with Alex Morgan’s justification of her appearance in SI, claiming that since they don’t make as much money as men they have to look to other opportunities to make money such as modeling, coaching or commentating. My point is that Morgan and others could work to change the pay differential that exists between women and men in many sports and in many areas of the workforce in general. I have no problem with women being empowered and have not “politically correct” agenda when it comes to that. However, when women pose naked or scantily clad they reinforce the notion that women are only valued for their bodies, which in turn is problematic for the way women view themselves (read Think by Lisa Bloom: http://www.amazon.com/Think-Straight-Women-Smart-Dumbed-Down/dp/1593156596 ). I myself would like to see women and men change this notion, feminist or not. And for the record, feminism is at an all-time low because too few people understand what it stands for—equality for all people—and lack the courage to work for this conviction. I suggest you read bell hooks’ “feminism is for everybody” to better understand the true meaning of feminism. (pdf. of the book can be found here: http://excoradfeminisms.files.wordpress.com/2010/03/bell_hooks-feminism_is_for_everybody.pdf).

    By Katie Culver on Mar 6, 2012

  6. If you had read my post carefully, you would have noted that my biggest problem was with Alex Morgan’s justification of her appearance in SI, claiming that since they don’t make as much money as men they have to look to other opportunities to make money such as modeling, coaching or commentating. My point is that Morgan and others could work to change the pay differential that exists between women and men in many sports and in many areas of the workforce in general. When women pose naked or scantily clad they reinforce the notion that women are only valued for their bodies, which in turn is problematic for the way women view themselves (read Think by Lisa Bloom: http://www.amazon.com/Think-Straight-Women-Smart-Dumbed-Down/dp/1593156596 ). I myself would like to see women and men change this notion, feminist or not. And for the record, feminism is at an all-time low because too few people understand what it stands for—equality for all people—and too many lack the courage to work for this conviction. I suggest you read bell hooks’ feminism is for everybody to better understand the true meaning of feminism. (pdf. of the book can be found here: http://excoradfeminisms.files.wordpress.com/2010/03/bell_hooks-feminism_is_for_everybody.pdf).

    By Katie Culver on Mar 7, 2012

  7. I comprehend perfectly. Clearly, they are free to do whatever they want, I’m not saying that they can’t. However, that doesn’t mean that I can’t be disappointed in their decision.

    Also, I’m not part of any party. I’m a registered independent, and I consider myself fairly liberal, just to clear that up.

    My last post, was my opinion, just as your two posts have been your opinions. What I don’t understand is why you are so upset that my (or Katie’s) opinion may be different than yours. Your opinion is no more valid than mine.

    I’m certainly not proliferating any propaganda. I’m a father of a daughter and I hope she will find role models that she can be proud of, and aspire to be like. If she chooses Solo or Morgan as role models, I will be disappointed, but it is her choice.

    Going back to your original post… one’s sexual preference (King being an out lesbian) has nothing to do with another’s choice to remove their clothes and pose for pictures. People shouldn’t have to hide their sexual identities (which party are you from?)

    If you get so enraged by reading posts on “sites like this”, why do you bother? You should find something else to read. Life is too short to be unhappy.

    By JT on Mar 8, 2012

  8. I didn’t say anything about anyone hiding their sexual identity so it would be cool if you didn’t try to put words in my mouth. I questioned the appropriateness of King as a Role Model for your or anyone else’s daughter, particularly when compared to Morgan or Solo.

    It’s no small coincidence that the comfort level is so high for a LGBT role model with someone hanging a Wellesley space. Pretty standard stuff at the Sisters.

    I suggest before you get all warm and fuzzy with your daughter getting comfy with the LGBT thing you do a bit of real world research on the influence of that crew on young women in a sports environment. That is if you can see it through your “fairly liberal” goggles. I mean being fashionable in your life view is fine, but you might want to consider the potential long term impact on your daughter.

    Finally I’m not pissed, but I am getting educated by goofs like you. I’ve been reading Pappano’s foolishness for over a year now and have been forwarding this URL on to others who want to see what is being passed off as “equality” and associated with higher education out there.

    By Bern on Mar 9, 2012

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