The War on Girls: No Matter What You Accomplish Girl, You’re Still Just A Piece Of Meat

I wrote this post in response to the sexist coverage of the summer Olympics in 2012. I’m re-posting it now as a run-up to my next post, which will be on Miley Cyrus.

Prominent news organizations blazed past their critics to take home medals from the 2012 Olympics despite complaints of unsportsmanlike conduct. Opponents claim that the publications emphasized women athletes’ weight, appearance and body parts rather than their athletic performance. According to the editor in chief of a major news outlet, this criticism is unfair.

“Sure we spiced things up a little,” he said. “So what? Journalism is a competitive business. If these gals want to step out there, it’s our right to try to medal off them.”

This spirit of journalistic competitiveness was evident when the New York Times drummed the competition for the Misogyny Medal by sweeping the field with two articles they entered in the all-misogynist girl-baiting competition. Despite heroic effort from some of the sewer dwellers in the blogosphere, (who are the farm teams for this event,) the supposedly credible New York Times took the gold, followed closely by Melbourne Australia’s Herald Sun.

The Herald Sun made a bold opening move with an article claiming that one of Australia’s female swimmers was “too fat,” and setting up an online poll where readers could vote on the young woman’s appearance. Not to be outdone, the New York Times made a strong counter with an article criticizing one of the American women for being “too pretty” to be taken seriously. They followed this with an article discussing women water polo players’ breasts. This daring maneuver sealed their win.

Skirmishes occurred further back in the pack as other “legitimate” publications tried to make up for lost time by re-printing the bulk of these articles and discussing whether or not they actually “had a lot of truth in them.” Salon took home the bronze with this effort. There were excellent efforts by other outlets who discussed whether or not pretty women athletes were cheating by looking so good and if women athletes really are too fat. But, salacious as they were, none of these medaled.

After the medal ceremony, the team captain for the New York Times indicated that the publication would enter “every event out there” in the upcoming months, stating that it was part of the publication’s standard to maintain a high level of misogyny in all of its coverage at all times. He said that he intended to sharpen the Times’ edge by eliminating the sublety, which he felt slowed his team down. “Next time, we’ll just say that it doesn’t matter what women do or what they achieve, they are still second-class citizens.”

The Herald Sun’s captain broke into the interview to announce, “We’ll do better than that. Next time, we’ll skip the article and run a full-page headline saying, “No Matter What You Accomplish Girl, You’re Still Just A Piece Of Meat.”

When informed that the women athletes in question claimed to feel humiliated and degraded, both team captains said this was an “overreaction” and an example of the emotionalism of women. “I think it’s caused by them thinking about their breasts too much,” the New York Times team captain stated. “Also, carrying around all that fat,” the Herald Sun captain added. “Those girls need to drop about 40 pounds.”

“Yeah,” the Times’ Captain said. “Then we can do an article criticizing them for being too skinny.”

The team captains seemed to forget about the reporter at that point and wandered off together, re-hashing the competition and looking for a brewski.

As for the female athletes, after crying their eyes out, they competed in their events.

 

  • http://nebraskaenergyobserver.wordpress.com Neenergyobsever

    Nicely said, Rebecca. While I doubt any of us (male or female) fail to note physical attractiveness, or lack of it, what the person is doing is very much more important. Of course being that much of the media is still in junior high, I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Sexuality is a gift, to both men and women. It only becomes bad when we use it as a weapon to harm one another, which is what these publications are doing to these young women. If they had said something nice instead of something degrading, it would have been fine. As for noting physical attractiveness, that’s wired into us; without it there would BE no human race.

  • http://hisglorysm.com Kathie

    The tragedy in this is not so much in what is being publicized (as wretched as it is) but it is in the growing appetite for it in the public. Shame on us!

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      You’re right Kathie. It’s especially shameful when Christians join in with this.

  • http://jessicahof.wordpress.com/ Jessica Hoff

    I am not surprised. I have tended to avoid the coverage, partly for this reason.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Me too. I read about all this after the fact.

  • http://www.newequus.wordpress.com Mindy @ New Equus – A New Creation

    This is GREAT Rebecca! These women are in top physical shape or else they wouldn’t be there at all. I would like to see the writers of these article get off their fat butts (sorry) and go head to head with them in competition. I can bet these too fat and too beautiful women will smoke them!

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Oh yeah. That would be a short contest!

  • http://www.newcovenantchristianministries.org revj5@newcovenantchristianministries.wordpress

    Good article. Since you are dealing with misogyny; it is a compound word from two Koine Greek words: “miseo” = hatred or ill will, to detest, abhor, esteem less; and from “gunay” meaning = woman.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      That definition really covers it, doesn’t it? Thanks for sharing it.

  • http://greenlightlady Wendy Macdonald

    In Christ there is neither male nor female. Jesus elevated women. Those that degrade women are only lowering themselves. I agree with Mindy: “I can bet these … women will smoke them!” ~ Wendy

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      What you said.

  • http://greenlightlady.wordpress.com Wendy Macdonald

    Oops! I left the wrong address for my last comment. ~ Wendy

  • http://theshepherdspresence.wordpress.com Karyl Entner

    I don’t know who is responsible for dressing these women (and men) but they are partly responsible for the lust involved. Come on, the guys play beach volleyball in far more clothing than the women. I refuse to watch it, and I am an old lady in tennis shoes. Then, of course, NBC shows it in prime time seeking to lure “meat lovers.” Shame, shame, shame. The publications, as you state, are very wrong. They are only helping promote the meat lovers. Again, shame on us for allowing it. I am glad you spoke out, and did it so well, Rebecca.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      I agree that the way these women are dressed while they compete fosters the meat-market mentality. Frankly, some of the things they’re wearing look like they would be uncomfortable and difficult to perform in. I don’t know, but I would not be surprised to learn that the sponsors and the networks either encouraged or required that these young women “show a little skin.” The standard excuse would be that it increases ratings, but I think the underlying motivation is that the people who push this enjoy seeing women sexualized. Look around, you can see that women and even little girls are constantly being pushed to dress this way. Thank you for this great comment!

  • http://lbkennett.wordpress.com lbkennett

    Based of this year’s Olympics, I’d say this is true. :(

  • http://trudymetzger.com Trudy Metzger

    I find the whole thing entirely offensive. Maybe that’s why I don’t watch TV. I’d get to upset. And, frankly, I can’t believe anyone says those things publicly and gets by with it. Shame on our culture/society.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Trudy, they didn’t actually say those things, at least not those specific words. I was making fun of them by extrapolating from what they did say and do to what I believe was/is their intent and meaning.

  • Fabio Paolo Barbieri

    I am not quite as sure as you are, you know. I am a devoted fan of athletics and sports in general, with a great appreciation for women sports players. When I was young, I used to do up to ten kilometres myself (it would kill me now, alas). And I have to say that women cooperate, at the very least, in their own objectification. Dozens of leading athletes have posed in bikinis or less. Above all, there are the sports uniforms. In the eighties, women and men ran in fairly similar combinations of boxer shorts and loose tops. Now women run in bikini bottoms and skin-tight tops, showing as much skin as possible and leaving nothing to the imagination. The men also wear skintight uniforms, but they are twice as large as the women, and i don’t think I have any doubt that there is a deliberate intention to attract the eye to the shape of leg and backside, if no more.

    I myself always found women athletes attractive – much more to my taste than singers – but this half-nakedness annoys me. It seems to be the rule among athletes today, however.

    • CS

      Just so I understand: You are saying that, if a female athlete seems to be buying in to the culture of objectification — according to your understanding of what that is, and your response to the amount of clothing they have on — then it is less certain that they don’t deserve to be treated like meat?
      Is that about right?

      • Fabio Paolo Barbieri

        If you are an accomplice, it is harder to accept that you are a victim.

        • CS

          Oh, I wasn’t referring to labels or victimhood. I was talking about whether, according to you, they deserve that treatment or not.
          Really there are two issues: One, can people lose their status as beings worthy of non-objectifying, humane treatment? And two ,(if so), can you, Fabio Paolo Barbieri, look upon them and judge, based upon your own subjective hormonal response to them, whether they have indeed lost that status?

          • Fabio Paolo Barbieri

            I don’t think I have made myself clear. First, you have to remember that these are mostly very young women (and men). In professional sports, twenty-four is mature, thirty is getting close to retirement, and forty is “it’s a wonder what that old so-and-so can still do”. A lot of them are not very well educated either, especially those who have been through the corrupt US university system – and in sports such as athletics, this means not only the young Americans, but half the world, because American universities aggressively recruit across the five continents. So we are talking about very young people at the height of their physical excellence, with no great stimulus to develop their minds, and living in an artificial, high-pressure world. This makes them very vulnerable to stupid fashions and stupider behaviour. Right now, one of Italy’s most famous women is Federica Pellegrini, a stupendous natural blonde with an astonishing figure who also happens to be one of the greatest swimmers in history. This lady’s achievement cannot be doubted, and in fact the newspapers follow her swims closely, rejoicing in her victories and being disappointed in her occasional defeats. At the same time, the woman is an exhibitionist, who has posed naked, in thin bikinis, and, on one occasion, in poses with her boyfriend that were close to simulated sex. Her love affairs – she has dated two male swimmers in succession, losing one of them to a French rival – are carried out in public and sell newspapers. If you said to her that she is a victim, she would answer that she is in charge, she drives the train of her popularity – gossip columns and all – and incidentally that she works very hard to stay at the top of her profession. But in a deeper sense, she is a victim, because she has fallen into a whole series of cheapening patterns of behaviour. It is exactly the sense of being in charge that tempts people into this sort of behaviour, and there are a lot like her.

  • Fabio Paolo Barbieri

    That includes the fans, too. One thing I hate in sports is the way that commentators and fans run down anyone who is not performing at the top of their game all the time – especially if they have past victories to their credit. You should realize that the last arrival in an Olympic heat is still fit enough to outrun you twenty ways from Sunday, and laugh in your face afterwards.


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