First, I shall set the scene.
I am in my office. I am doing maths as that is what I do. I'm looking at Floquet analysis which is actually quite cool and I am enjoying myself.
As is the way with these thing my brain eventually just melts.
I therefore do what any self-respecting graduate student does in this situation
and goes on the internet.
So, scrolling down the newsfeed, and, what is this?
Has Wiggle got hacked or something? It appears to be advertising pornography...? Wait, hang on, they're selling this stuff?
The offending item is this, a calender featuring a bunch of female cycling pros.
Err. What? I basically saw this and lost my shit a little bit. Then quite a lot. I've been meaning to write something about women and sport for quite a while; stuff started bubbling away with all the of the endless WIMMIN'S VOLLEYBALL ASS PHOTOS all over the press all the fucking time during the Olympics but I held my cool and just enjoyed the sport for what it was. Sport. With athletes in it. This bought all the simmering rage right back up to the surface because fuck you Wiggle. Fuck you, calendar. Fuck you and your "women as objects" bullshit.
A blog post had to be written. I rushed home. A fucking epic rant was brewing and you can't keep that stuff canned up too long. My average speed was faster than the local bus by some significant margin and I was pleased (take that lazy bus riders!)
I threw an omelette down myself and started drawing stuff.
|OK, it wasn't an omelette, it was 3 rashers of bacon chopped up and four eggs smushed around in a pan with cheese on it but DETAILS.|
|This is me right now! Oooo meta.|
Now some of you are probably thinking, it's a calendar, what's the big deal? Why rush home to write about this?
WELL. What I (and every other woman who commented on Wiggle's advert) found pretty fucking offensive was (a) why the hell are you sexualising a seatpost clamp - it's a seatpost clamp ffs (b) and, more to the point, these women are all pro cyclists, i.e. they are fucking good at cycling. It makes me really quite sad that these women who have suffered and sweated and bled to get to the top of their sport and to be in the best form they can be are essentially reduced to a face, a set of tits and an arse sitting on a really fucking large front derailleur.
You know what would be nice? If we celebrated what these women have actually gone out and done and achieved instead of the fact that they are attractive and own a vagina.
Some of you rowers will draw parallels with the Leander men's calender a couple of years ago. You know, the one with Pete Reed and an umbrella in it:
|I really do not care about stealing these guys pictures.|
The Leander calendar equivalent would have to be Pete Reed wearing some sort of latex underwear with tape over his nipples humping a Concept2.
Yeah sure, the Leander guys all have rolled down onesies and abs everywhere and stuff, but they're doing light-hearted stuff like rowing in a boat and erging and holding trophies they've won, not this weird having-sex-with-bike-components shit. The in-your-face sexuality is just absent in the former and is, well, in your face in the this Cyclepassion thing. Hell, in the Leander one they talk about the Olympic and World Champ and Henley medals they've won, where as this monstrosity? Do they even say what fucking cycling team their on? No.
These women are sportswomen and this is not what sport is about. I do not admire people because they are attractive, I admire them because they go out and do heroic things and overcome adversity and be courageous and suffer and suffer and suffer chasing a dream. To have these women draped over weird large bike components (what is even with that?!?!?! Are they saving money by not producing a catalogue or something?) in such an overtly sexual way just trivialises all they have worked for.
THIS is what sport is:
...it's the Danish LM2x being utterly courageous in the last 500m and taking out the reining Olympic Champions...
....it's Frida Svensson taking on the best in the world in 2010 face on... and succeeding....
|From Frida's blog|
|Cycling Weekly (And yes I know this photo is from the wrong year)|
... and it is passion.
|Really? REALLY? (And blue tyres on a red bike?!?!?!?)|
FFS VICTORIA. PUT YOUR CLOTHES ON.
I have to evaluate why I do sport when this sort of palaver crops up. Now I am not the most genetically gifted person looks-wise and I know how averages work so I'm going to put myself in the sub-average lookwise category (and no, I am not fishing for complements, I get called 'Sir' about once a fortnight and well, I am not an idiot - you have to deal with the shit life deals you) but you know what, I do not give a shit.
If I want to achieve something I will work my arse off to get there and for that it doesn't matter one bit how attractive I am. I will gladly destroy myself on an ergo or on a turbo or whatever because that way you find your limits, you learn stuff about yourself, you suffer and you become a better human being because of it. I don't train and train and train to get a nice arse so I am somehow more attractive. No, fuck you, I train because I fucking enjoy it, I (perversely) enjoy suffering and I like seeing how good I can be at something. After all, there is no better feeling after a 2K race than knowing you gave every little bit of yourself; it is somehow purifying. You're basically throwing your arms up in the air and shouting "THIS IS ALL I'VE FUCKING GOT AND IF THAT'S NOT ENOUGH, FUCK YOU" to the world (before puking into the lake).
I am not an object that sits on top of stuff in an eluring manner (if I tried many of those poses I would probably fall off anyway). I am not a pair of tits and a vagina. I am a human being who likes to be good at stuff and enjoys the journey of getting to being good at stuff. I like cycling and I like rowing and I like sportsmanship. I like being treated as a human being.
And that is why, Wiggle, you have lost yourself a customer today. You stock this calendar, which insults me on a whole array of different levels and I am not going to buy lots of nice shiny bike stuff off you. Sure, it's a drop in the ocean but I don't care. This represents too much that I hate to put up with to condone.
So, Wiggle I say to you this fine October evening a resounding fuck you. Actually fuck you.