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

The War on Girls: No Matter What You Accomplish Girl, You’re Still Just A Piece Of Meat August 30, 2013


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.


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

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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?

  4. 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?

  5. 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.