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Okay, so the tabloids take the eroticization
July 6, 2001 9:37 AM   Subscribe

Okay, so the tabloids take the eroticization of female tennis players to the extreme, including The Mirror, which has paid Barbara "Babsi" Schett 50,000 pounds to promote her as the next Anna Kournikova. Last fall we talked about women sports players being on beauty, not talent; while the beauty judging goes on, they forget to even mention player records. There's Babsi, Anna, Jelena Dokic, and the supposedly beautiful Krasnoroutskaya who says of Kournikova what everyone keeps saying about good-looking female players in general: "She makes the beauty of tennis. She started it. Now tennis is very popular. People come to watch her. That helps everybody."
posted by Mo Nickels (48 comments total)

 
"They championed 25-year-old 'Babsi' as she as known, in daily features accompanied by glamorous photos from her former career as a model."

If she was a model first, can you fault tabloids for "eroticizing her"?

Not to mention the fact that the tabloids do this cause people want to see the pictures*.

*I'm sorry. Can't make the link work, but adwords estimates 13,100 searches/day for "kournikova"
posted by jeb at 10:10 AM on July 6, 2001


it's a bit ironic that we do inject so much sexuality into tennis, because tennis is a sport rife with ick. i mean, do you see the expressions on the faces these girls have when they hit the ball? they look like they're shitting bricks!
posted by moz at 10:40 AM on July 6, 2001


"A sport rife with ick"
That's awesome.
I hear Howard Cosell saying that in my head.

"A sport rife...
...(dramatic pause).....
....with ick."
posted by dong_resin at 11:01 AM on July 6, 2001


Well, darn those girls. Don't they know that they should look like pretty little princesses as they power balls across the net at 90 mph? How dare their faces show that they're actually engaging in physical exertion? Beauty must be upheld at all costs!
posted by Dreama at 11:24 AM on July 6, 2001


dreama, did you see someone make a judgment about these girls? all i did was say that i felt that tennis' representation in the media was a bit ironic. i think your words are uncalled for.
posted by moz at 11:35 AM on July 6, 2001


it's a bit ironic that we do inject so much sexuality into tennis

It seems to me that most sports get "injected" with sexuality, male or female. These are athletes; for the most part, they look damn good (I'm leaving aside, say, sumo wrestling).

As for the link, well, the tabloids take everything to the extreme. It's why they exist. This isn't any more surprising to me than the hubbub around Brandy Chastain whipping off her jersey or Dennis Rodman's wandering boner.
posted by Skot at 11:46 AM on July 6, 2001


I find a new appreciation for tennis. Thank you sleazy tabloids !
posted by a3matrix at 11:49 AM on July 6, 2001


Here's my thought on this, and it may be totally unfair - but I don't think women's sports will get total respect until a woman beats a man toe to toe in whatever sport. You know, say Venus Williams beats Pete Sampras or Shamika (sp?) Holdsclaw drives on Allen Iverson...
posted by owillis at 11:50 AM on July 6, 2001


i mean, do you see the expressions on the faces these girls have when they hit the ball?

I find it sexy. Ick has its place in eroticism. Besides, nothing turns me off more than a woman who's afraid to sweat.

Stop me if I'm sharing too much. :-)
posted by jpoulos at 11:52 AM on July 6, 2001


I don't think women's sports will get total respect until a woman beats a man toe to toe

Um...even that probably wouldn't do it, unfortunately.

Dennis Rodman's wandering boner

I've heard about such a malady.
posted by jpoulos at 11:55 AM on July 6, 2001


Love those tight bods, the white panties, short white dresses, et al. Who cares who wins or loses? I watch for the babes. The erotic trumps batting balls over a net competition.
posted by Postroad at 12:02 PM on July 6, 2001


jpoulos: stop. :-0
posted by davidmsc at 12:06 PM on July 6, 2001


owillis: "I don't think women's sports will get total respect until a woman beats a man toe to toe in whatever sport."

Jutta Kleinschmidt this year became the first woman to win the Paris-Dakar Rally. You don't get any more of a "man's sport" than auto racing.
posted by tamim at 12:13 PM on July 6, 2001


i think that there are plenty of woman's sports that get respect. swimming, speed skating, running, just to name a few.
posted by moz at 12:25 PM on July 6, 2001


I'm waiting for one of the women players to simply wear shorts. What *is* the functional purpose of those dresses? The men don't play in speedos.
posted by mecran01 at 12:26 PM on July 6, 2001


Um...even that probably wouldn't do it, unfortunately.

While entertaining, that match was bit of a joke. A washed up retired male against a woman on top of her game isn't the same as the examples he gave.

What *is* the functional purpose of those dresses?

It's called tradition.
posted by justgary at 12:36 PM on July 6, 2001


It's called tradition.

There's nothing "functional" about tradition. And, hell, men used to wear slacks and sweaters to play. What about their tradition? (Not that I'm complaining about the short dresses, or anything.)
posted by jpoulos at 1:08 PM on July 6, 2001


It seems to me that most sports get "injected" with sexuality, male or female.

Wasn't in on MeFi that someone put forth the theory that during the Olympics, the amount of interest the public shows in a particular sport is directly proportional to the amount of Spandex the sport's players wear? Gymnastics, swimming? Good! Curling? Bad!

Anyway, I think in the end this all evens out. Remember, Kournikova's choice to spend half her time modeling and partying has resulted in her never winning a major tournament (unless she's won one recently somewhere when I wasn't looking). Navratrilova didn't give a damn about that sort of thing and kicked ass on-court for years.
posted by aaron at 1:15 PM on July 6, 2001



Lisa, if the Bible has taught us nothing else, and it hasn't, it's that girls should stick to girls sports, such as hot oil wrestling and foxy boxing and such and such.
posted by wackybrit at 1:28 PM on July 6, 2001


Something no-one's mentioned: surely it's better having these women as role models than skinny fashion models.

Oh, and decathlon's pretty good too ;o)
posted by andrew cooke at 1:29 PM on July 6, 2001


Role models was the wrong phrase, but you know what I mean.
posted by andrew cooke at 1:31 PM on July 6, 2001


I've got a crush the size of Sydney on Marion Jones. And, dammit, I think it's a good thing.
posted by jpoulos at 1:52 PM on July 6, 2001


Wasn't in on MeFi that someone put forth the theory that during the Olympics, the amount of interest the public shows in a particular sport is directly proportional to the amount of Spandex the sport's players wear? Gymnastics, swimming? Good! Curling? Bad!

Another factor is the probability for serious injury or as ABC put it "The Agony of Defeat" [49KB WAV File]
posted by fooljay at 1:59 PM on July 6, 2001


I'm waiting for one of the women players to simply wear shorts. What *is* the functional purpose of those dresses? The men don't play in speedos.


Plenty of women wear shorts while playing, including the beloved Anna Kournikova. If anything, she looks even hotter in shorts ;-).
posted by gyc at 2:04 PM on July 6, 2001


You don't get any more of a "man's sport" than auto racing.

Auto racing is not a sport. Skilled, yes - but a sport? No.
posted by owillis at 2:39 PM on July 6, 2001


Auto racing is not a sport.

Why not? Formula 1 drivers are super fit, racing for 2 hours in a nomex suit, sustaining up to 6 g's under braking and cornering. It is very much a test of fitness, reflexes, and bravery.
posted by gyc at 2:49 PM on July 6, 2001


dreama, did you see someone make a judgment about these girls? all i did was say that i felt that tennis' representation in the media was a bit ironic. i think your words are uncalled for.

Yes, I did see someone making a judgment. You said that it was a sport "filled with ick," because as those "girls" hit the balls they look "like they're shitting bricks." My remarks were a sarcastic rejoinder to the idea that the looks on their faces were "ick" worthy -- those faces are the direct result of doing their jobs and they shouldn't be denegrated for them.
posted by Dreama at 3:15 PM on July 6, 2001


Hey, sex sells.
posted by Bag Man at 3:25 PM on July 6, 2001


Hey, sex sells.

It does? Hey - I've got an idea! I could start a website that features sexy pictures of half-dressed female sports figures! It's bound to make lots of $$$...!
posted by davidmsc at 3:52 PM on July 6, 2001


dreama, ok. i feel the same way about men's faces in tennis as well, and it was my fault for not making my original statement gender equal. i apologize for that. but, i have to admit, i still find those faces funny. i don't believe that because of those faces the only good and proper thing to do is to hang up the racket and never play tennis again for fear of looking foolish -- taking that logic to its fullest, i should never leave the house or speak on metafilter for i look foolish all the time. but i still see humor in the situation. maybe that doesn't make me all that wonderful of a person, but that's me.
posted by moz at 3:57 PM on July 6, 2001


oh, why don't you two get a room... :-)
posted by jpoulos at 4:38 PM on July 6, 2001


Beryl Burton is another example of a superb sportswoman who regularly beat all the men as well as the women.
posted by normy at 4:54 PM on July 6, 2001


There's nothing "functional" about tradition. And, hell, men used to wear slacks and sweaters to play. What about their tradition?

I said nothing about it being traditional, and I never said other traditions weren't left behind.

As to the question about shorts, as someone said, many of them basically do wear shorts under their skirts.
posted by justgary at 4:54 PM on July 6, 2001


I mean a woman coming into a traditionally male sport and not in an exhibit or time trial and winning. For instance, a female pitcher in MLB, or wide receiver in the NFL or going into extra overtime with Tiger Woods. The closest thing I can think of is the woman who was the goalie for Tampa Bay's hockey team - and she only made it to the minors.
posted by owillis at 5:14 PM on July 6, 2001


Yes but Owillis those sports were designed by men for men. They all require certain degrees of physical strength or size that there will not be a large enough segment of the female population from which to get a great athlete.

Back to the main topic, it seems that females often fantasize about male athletes, especially in 'manly' sports. I don't think it's too bad that men do the same about the most sexy female athletes-- the only problem being that male sexualization of females competing in other spheres such as work has a negative effect on society. I would rather we evolve in the workplace, however, than remove the lusting in athletics.
posted by FPN at 6:05 PM on July 6, 2001


it seems that females often fantasize about male athletes, especially in 'manly' sports

really? where do you get that? I'm seriously asking, because women I know tend to lust after movie stars and rock singers. I know I've never fantasized about a male athlete, but then, I'm not a sports guy.

so, before we admit the premise that "people of both sexes often fantasize about sports figures" I'd like some confirmation that many women actually do that.

it seems to me that most male athletes are revered for their ability. a man who has looks (michael jordan) is more marketable off the court, but he's valued as an athlete first and foremost.

I think women get media attention when they're pretty, and while they have to be good to get to wimbledon, for example, that doesn't seem to be enough in and of itself.
posted by rebeccablood at 6:21 PM on July 6, 2001


so, before we admit the premise that "people of both sexes often fantasize about sports figures" I'd like some confirmation that many women actually do that

One need look no further than the popularity of Derek Jeter, of the New York Yankees, with women. An example: A friend’s girl friend went with him to a Yankees game; the only player she knew of on either one of the teams was Derek Jeter. Another example: Anywhere he goes he is met with mobs of men and women a like. Women, especially young women, tell me it's his good looks, charisma, and athletic ability that attract then to the N.Y. shortstop. I see this as no different than men going gaga over Anna Kournikova.
posted by Bag Man at 7:17 PM on July 6, 2001


well, in chicago, there's the cult of Mark Grace. i'm just saying. and they should have female pitchers and hitters in the MLB. i mean, they let steve trachsel pitch. and they let deion sanders hit. why not?
posted by moz at 7:19 PM on July 6, 2001


It happens both ways. Rafter gets as many oohs and ahs when he takes off his shirt, as drools that Anna gets. And I'm told that most tennis fans think that Anna is a model who can play tennis, rather than the other way around. Her lack of skill in the sport is evident when you realize how quickly she falls out.
posted by crunchland at 7:27 PM on July 6, 2001


owillis,

Venus Williams (and Serena) challenged any guy out of the top 200 on the men's circuit. The #203 (a German guy whose name I forget) accepted.

He beat Venus 6-1 and Serena 6-2.

Frankly, the talent level in women's sports such as hoops, soccer and tennis is nowhere near that of men. That's not to say women's sports are exciting: I'd rather watch Henin-Capriati than watch Ivanisevic and Rusedski blast a bazillion aces a piece (although the Rafter-Agassi game was a thriller).

I think the whole "women athletes are sex symbols only" is overblown. Anna K is in the top 15 in the world for tennis: She's popular for more than just her looks. Many girls have photos of the aformentioned Jeter, Jason Sehorn and Pat Rafter (pre homeless-man-beard Rafter, that is) decorating their walls, and I don't think it's because they're massive fans of the sport.
posted by Kevs at 7:33 PM on July 6, 2001


Auto racing is not a sport.

Why not? Formula 1 drivers are super fit, racing for 2 hours in a nomex suit, sustaining up to 6 g's under braking and cornering. It is very much a test of fitness, reflexes, and bravery.


I was going to say that any activity in which the participants are, overwhelmingly, overweight is not a sport, but then I realized that would rule out sumo wrestling, football, baseball and many others.

I've got a friend who is beginning her career as a civil engineer. She's naturally blond, attractive, nice, and has traces of a rural Kentucky accent, and complains that other students think she's clueless. That's what comes to mind when I see the criticisms of Anna K.

Kevs: so are there *any* sports in which the gender gap is nonexistent?

Another annoying factor is the ubiquity of undie shots of women tennis players. It's as if the photographers rode to the match on a Japanese subway train.
posted by mecran01 at 4:48 AM on July 7, 2001


>> Auto racing is not a sport.
> Why not?

Because if driving a car is a sport, so are driving a bus and working in a steel mill. In auto racing, there's too much machine and not enough flesh behind the success of the victor. It wouldn't take too much additional engineering to take the driver out of the car and have the car win on its own.

And there's nothing to watch except one manufacturer's car passing another's. If there's an athlete in the winning car, you certainly wouldn't know it until the crass champagne shower scene at the end. There could be anybody in there.

> Many girls have photos of the aformentioned Jeter,
> Jason Sehorn and Pat Rafter (pre homeless-man-beard
> Rafter, that is) decorating their walls, and I don't think
> it's because they're massive fans of the sport.

Exactly. Female fans of any team will always have favorites, and the guy who has a biggest fan club won't be the dorky fat guy whose job it is to grab other dorky fat guys. Here are just some of the Web sites created mainly by women who "definitely enjoy sports for the HOT athletes!"
posted by pracowity at 4:57 AM on July 7, 2001


Driving a bus or working in a steel mill would be sports, if you threw in, oh, competition, spectators, rules, etc.

That's what makes a sport, something physical with competition. Whether or not the tools are made of leather or made of steel doesn't make a huge difference besides your personal taste.
posted by chaz at 5:46 AM on July 7, 2001


OK, how about if we simply assign each "sport" to one of (for example) three levels of "sportiness."

Level 1 (Almost Non-Stop Physical Movement & Intensity): Basketball, Racing/Running, Racquetball

Level 2 (Brief Periods of Intensity Puncuated by Brief Periods of Inactivity): Football, Baseball, Soccer

Level 3 (Little Activity - Or Negligible Human Movement - But Competition Nonetheless): Chess, Auto Racing, Golf

Everyone happy now?
posted by davidmsc at 7:54 AM on July 7, 2001


I still feel empty inside.
posted by dong_resin at 8:03 AM on July 7, 2001


I would put auto racing at level 1 though (Formula One drivers, and not beer-bellied NASCAR drivers obviously).
posted by gyc at 2:43 PM on July 7, 2001


Doesn't an F1 racecar driver lose like 10 pounds during a single race? The intensity of that sport is way beyond what you can imagine driving an old Buick in traffic.

And working at a Steel Mill is not sport - neither is being a Lumberjack or a Fireman...BUT, I often see Lumberjack of Firemen Sport events. Events geared to their particular skills. And those ARE sports, though their professions might not be. Driving a bus is not a sport; driving a bus on a track against other buses, with an audience, for long distances and times - is sport.
posted by mkn at 3:31 PM on July 7, 2001


Sport is what the warriors do as practice warfare when there isn't any real war going: throw spears, throw rocks, try to bodyslam each other barehanded. All the rest are effete media creations.
posted by jfuller at 9:44 AM on July 10, 2001


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