This week’s blog is probably going to get me in hot water, but I have been feeling a bit cold lately, so I am going to cannonball on in and get scalded if I must. A question that I often ponder: why is a woman’s sexiness deemed deplorable in our sport (and perhaps all women’s sports)?
Why am I going down this perilous road? Because over the last 10 years, I have been around athletic women, who as soon as they dress or act sexy, get all kinds of negativity from peers, friends, family, and my own supposedly open-minded mother. The other reason I wanted to write this is to say publicly to all those women who act sexy in any shape or form: I support you.
For starters, I don’t buy the argument that dressing, acting, or being sexy lowers the value of a sport. How do I know this? First-hand experience. Most people know that San Francisco has an extensive and thriving gay scene. For whatever reason, I seem to get lots of attention from this scene. I feel no regret whatsoever when I use my shapely body or the bodies of my teammates to sell ultimate. A typical conversation might go like this:
A guy at a random bar in the Castro buys me a drink, and before long the following question comes up:
“What is ultimate frisbee?”
“Oh you know. Super hot sport where very attractive men run about the field sweating and jostling for position while trying to score.”
I usually end this sentence by pulling up my shirt to show a hint of a six pack.
“You like this?”
“Yes, I do!” our mark says with conviction.
Me: “Good, because if you get there early enough for our game, you can see lots of players with their shirts off. Including the one called Kanner. You’re going to like him, he always has his shirt off.”
“Is he gay?” Guy is now on the edge of the bar stool in anticipation.
“Probably could be convinced,” I say, finishing my drink, giving a wink, collecting my girlfriend and walking out of the bar, before throwing a final sentence over my shoulder:
“See you at the game.”
Let’s pretend game time rolls around and the crowd is full of men trying to woo Kanner. I am willing to bet Kanner would play well with all those people cheering for him and who knows, maybe next time they come to watch how well Kanner plays defense rather than how well he tans. No matter why a spectator watches our sport, I can tell you with absolute certainty that I still love and respect myself, the sport of ultimate, and even Kanner.
Next in this soup of craziness is that age-old double standard that makes me madder than pouring a bowl of cereal then finding out there is no milk. Men get to act sexy with little negative consequences, yet a woman has to walk a careful line. Justin Timberlake brought sexy back with lyrics that include whips, shackles and slavery, and everyone rejoiced.
You see these shackles
Baby I’m your slave
I’ll let you whip me if I misbehave
It’s just that no one makes me feel this way
The only negative reviews I could find were upset because they thought it repetitive and stupid. Then the always-sexy Rihanna does something similar:
….Sticks and stones
May break my bones
But chains and whips
Sure, lots of people liked this song, but this time the negative reviews say things like “too provocative”, “ode to sadomasochism”, “sending the wrong message”, etc. Of course I probably don’t need to go into further detail about the annoying consequences of this double standard, I just thought I would bring it to the table and state that I don’t like the taste. I support anyone who wants to sing, dance, or play a sport dressed a certain way.
This brings me to my next pet peeve. The critics who deem dressing sexy as bad and immoral. I have been fortunate enough to associate with women I find attractive; this is a good thing. The idea that physical attraction should play no role when choosing a partner is a fairy tale. “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover” is fine, as long as you never have to make out with said book. I find athletic women attractive. Watching women run at a track meet is a great example. It is like poetry in motion to watch them compete, their entire bodies designed for one specific task. Shaped and honed for speed, they push the boundaries of what a human body can do. I am not ashamed to say I love that they wear very little clothes, and having spent plenty of time around them, I can tell you that they are not ashamed. Yes, part of the reason is drag coefficient but the other reason is they are proud of their bodies. This should not stop on the track. If you’re proud of your body and you want to show it, I support you.
Then, there is the view that a woman acting sexy means she wants to sleep with everyone. I will ignore that there is nothing wrong with that and take a stance that should be more widely accepted: being sexy is not the same as having sex. I can play a violent video game and still have no desire to kill someone, I can listen and sing along to gangster rap and still not sling drugs or call a girl a “ho”. I can go to a club dressed in a scanty sexy sailor outfit, flirt with everyone I see and still not have any desire to sleep with anyone. If I can do this and no one gets mad at me (in fact I usually get requests for repeat performances), by golly, a woman better be able to do the same thing. So, if you want to act super sexy around me but have no desire to sleep with me, I support you.
Lastly is the negativity that comes from those closest to a woman who portrays a sexy aura. This is the hardest thing for me to comprehend. The word hypocrite comes to mind when I observe these people who pile on the negativity. For example, take my mother, who raised me to think naked was natural and beautiful, constantly telling us how the old Greeks had it right when it comes to nudity. Yet as soon as I bring a girl home that shows some midriff and a bit of thigh, my mother turns into a misguided monster unworthy of being related to me and certainly not related to a Greek from olden times. Then there are the guys who say to a girl, “you are not dressed appropriately”, then plead for kisses later when the night is in full swing. Or how about girls who smother other girls with constant berating and shaming, then turn around and wear the exact same thing or beg for advice on the finer points of portraying attractiveness. The easiest way to avoid being a hypocrite is to avoid saying something negative in the first place. To those who have personal beliefs about how a woman should behave but don’t say anything because they realize a woman can be who she want to be without being judged, I support you.
If I had to give one piece of advice to women it would be from the ever perceptive Eleanor Roosevelt “no one can make you feel inferior without your consent”. I am completely well aware of the mountain women have had to climb to be viewed as more than just sexual objects. I am also pretty sure we are far enough along on this continuing climb for equality that a woman should be able to express her sexuality without risk of being thrown off the nearest cliff by the rest of the world. Although this started off as blog directed at female athletes, it will end with a statement for everyone: if you are someone who wants to be sexy, be sexy. The odds are that you already are. Know that I support you. And hopefully one day I can change that sentence to: “we all support you”.