More Olympic Fever

And I mean the kind of fever that makes people act batshit crazy, because that’s the only excuse for the latest round of “It’s more important that female Olympians be jerkoff fodder than world-class athletes.” Are you sitting down? 

“Gymnast Alicia Sacramone an Internet ‘Hottie’ Despite Screwups.”

You have got to be fucking kidding me. Even for Fox News. First, WTF is up with saying twice that Sacramone “cost her team the gold,” when the scores were such that they couldn’t have beaten China even if she’d been near-perfect? And second… well, just read:

In the moments after the team’s heartbreaking loss to China on Aug. 12, Google searches for “Alicia Sacramone is hot” were at volcanic levels, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times. Olympicsviewers logged on to find photos of the 20-year-old Massachusetts native.

Oh, thank God someone thought to do that important research!

But hey, why the focus on Sacramone, as opposed to her teammates? 

A comment on one of her Facebook tribute pages could explain why: “SHE’S 20, so she’s not jailbait!” a post reportedly said.

That’s the last line of the article. As Astraea, who gets the hat tip, put it, “Yeah! We like to watch her because fucking her wouldn’t be RAPE. Now that’s a compliment!” 

You know, if the media wants to offer Alicia Sacramone a consolation prize after blaming her for everything from a medal loss she couldn’t have prevented to just not being Michael Phelps, how about something like this: “You are a stunningly talented and jaw-droppingly hard-working young woman who has already achieved more than about 99.99% of people in your sport — let alone the rest of us schlubs. You are a pleasure to watch because of your grace, skill, and effort, not your face. And as an ordinary American, let me say that my heart is not, in fact, broken over your losses. I know it sucks for you personally, and I wish for your sake that that weren’t so, but you did a fine fucking job of representing your country. Thank you.” 

Now, how difficult was that?

38 thoughts on “More Olympic Fever

  1. Kate, I hope that Alicia tunes out the media coverage and hears the equivalent of what you wrote from her friends and family. Objectified by the same people who need to learn to math…assholes indeed!

  2. The mere title of the article pisses me off… “Despite Screwups”. Ok, author of this piece, let’s see YOU spring onto a narrow beam and keep YOUR balance, and when you fall flat on your ass, we’ll laugh and tell you what a big “screwup” you are. But as long as you’re “hot”, I guess it’s okay.

    The entire team was phenomenal and a silver medal is an achievement to be proud of, “despite screwups” of journalism such as this.

  3. Many people watch NASCAR to see the crashes and/or fatalities and many people watch gymnastics to see people fall and/or break their necks.

    In this case, we not only get to lord a huge case of schadenfreude over this poor girl, some of us even get to revel in the fact that she’s also HOT!

    This is what is considered news. We are all using brain cycles to process this.

    [tears of anguish and pain]

  4. if i recall correctly, a newscaster actually mentioned this to her during an interview that aired last night. (she didn’t seem all that impressed, fwiw.) personally, i’m more impressed at her ability to continue on, even after falling off two events – and the sympathetic look she offered to chinese gymnast cheng fei when she fell on the vault too.

    hopefully in time, the painful memories will fade and she’ll only be left with pride and joy at her olympic experience. that silver team medal is nothing to sneeze at, either.

  5. This is painful to read. That girl was heartbroken when she lost. She could hardly speak, nevermind hug her teammates. She doesn’t need all this crap.

    Honestly, the emphasis on “looking good” for female athletes is getting ridiculous. We’re all worried about what Michael Phelps has on his iPod or what he eats for breakfast. But we just want to know the boob size of our female athletes. GRAAAAH!

  6. THANK YOU for saying this. I’ve been rather uncomfortable with the whole “Alicia Sacramone is hot” BS for quite awhile. If these idiots slobbering after Alicia would realize that female gymnasts are more Xena than Barbie, they’d stop all that nonsense.
    And yes, as a bigger woman myself, I’ve bookmarked you. Keep up the good work!

  7. not to mention that, in addition to being an olympic athlete, she’s a full-time student at an ivy league university. but who cares that she’s amazing, talented, AND intelligent . . . IS SHE HAWT?!

  8. I would like to buy Alicia Sacramone a drink. She clearly deserves one.

    When did Asshat become the most popular political party in this country?

  9. I was watching the post-team event “interview” with Alicia and even though it was obvious she was heartbroken over what had happened, the “interviewer” kept asking questions that as far as I could tell were not meant to reflect on the event, but meant to make her feel as lousy as possible and get her to cry.

    I give her full credit because even though the tears were right there, she held them back and gave gracious, composed answers. That’s poise well beyond her years which I think will serve her well. That’s character, and it impressed me greatly.

  10. I felt the fury of a thousand super-nova-ing suns as I watched the tv cameras focus so hard on her while she was trying to compose herself after falling.

    Right then and there, I wanted to send her flowers and a note just like the final paragraph of Kate’s article.

    Pretty or no (and I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t noticed she is), that’s not the important part. The important part is that she’s not only a talented, determined athlete, but an excellent example of good sportsmanship and decency, besides. She showed terrific support of both her own team and other competitors under personally difficult circumstances.

    Yes, she’s easy on the eyes. No, that’s not particularly important.

    And how about that 33-year-old gymnast on the German team? She’s freaking amazing! Who takes Olympic medals in gymnastics at 33? She’s my new hero…her and the guy from Togo who took a medal in kayaking.

  11. Wasn’t all that interested in the Olympics to begin with because I’m not much of a sports fan.

    Pretty much decided not to so much as glance at them after reading the articles here and in a few other places regarding this sort of tripe.

    Not to mention the fact that since the beginning I’ve heard nothing but “let’s bash horrible China!” which I felt was in poor taste since the Olympics is supposed to be about peace, and besides if we suddenly hate China so much then maybe we should stop having them make most of our stuff instead of just whining that we don’t like them or whatever. World politics reminds me of junior high cliques. “Why are you saying that behind his/her back instead of talking to him/her or deciding for yourself to deal with each others’ quirks? I thought he/she was supposed to be your friend!” Replace “friend” with “ally and trade partner” and you get most of foreign relations between all countries. Makes me wanna vomit. I think politicians all need a juice box and a good nap before they can get back to running things. They all woke up on the wrong side of the damn crib.

    UGH AT THE WORLD SOMETIMES. SERIOUSLY.

  12. “When did Asshat become the most popular political party in this country?”

    Obviously when Faux Noise became the network “news source” of choice.

    *throws up on the author*
    *tunes in to U.S. Open previews on USA*

  13. Not to mention the fact that since the beginning I’ve heard nothing but “let’s bash horrible China!” which I felt was in poor taste since the Olympics is supposed to be about peace, and besides if we suddenly hate China so much then maybe we should stop having them make most of our stuff instead of just whining that we don’t like them or whatever.

    I wasn’t going to go here but since this door has been opened…

    I read a really interesting article the other day in one of the London (UK) papers about how, for the past, oh, 72 years or so, either Russia or the United States dominated the gold medal count in the Olympics.

    The article made a specific point between the parallel of gold medal domination and, you know, general world domination. (You scoff, I shivered a little, but wait …)

    At the last Olympics, China was second only behind the U.S. in the gold medal count.

    This year, they lead.

    There is part of me that thinks — and I do not excuse it; I actually find it that much more pathetic, and possibly frightening — that there is part of the Faux Noise contingent (you know, not the owners, who already have their own concrete bunkers in the event of disaster) — both on air and their followers, who cling to “HURR HURR BOOBIES”, and therefore flog it more mercilessly the more they cling, as a desperate distraction from their preoccupation with what they feel — since they also clearly feel that half the country’s contributions are instantly dismissible because they have tits — is the inevitable.

    It’s a theory.

  14. And how about that 33-year-old gymnast on the German team? She’s freaking amazing! Who takes Olympic medals in gymnastics at 33?

    She was also mentioned in a previous draft of this post, actually! I LOVE IT.

  15. Yes, Oksana Chusovitina is another interesting example. She’s from Uzbekistan, and moved to Germany because her son suffered from leukemia and couldn’t get the treatment he needed in their home country. She used prize money and friends from the gymnasting world donated money to allow them to get to Germany.

    He’s doing well now, and she is one of the oldest gymnasts and one of the very few to come back to the top level after having a child.

    After her performance, the Germany commentator almost immediately said “And that was amazing, and now I think she’d do well to retire on a high” – quit while she’s ahead, as it were, which I thought was a pretty weird comment coming like 10 seconds after her last compete finished. Anyway in the interview it was suggested to her that she would now retire, and she just gave this impish smile and said “Who told you that? I haven’t made any decisions yet!”.

  16. And did you guys see the puff piece on the Russian pole vaulter, Yelena Isibayeva? It was all about how pretty she is, and it had her in a bunch of different dresses, twirling around, posing for the camera. It was really weird. You’d never see something like that about a male athlete – look how handsome he is! – no, it’s all about how he trains, where he grew up, what’s his motivation, etc.

    Littlem, I read about that too. And I think the similarities between the USSR’s athletics program and China’s are pretty interesting. It’s not surprising that the Chinese have been able to challenge (and overtake) the US in the gold medal count, given that they have spent literally billions of dollars on developing athletes, and have made it a government priority. I think it’s perhaps more impressive that the US is such a powerhouse in the Olympics, given that we don’t publicly fund the athletes at anywhere near the same level as China does. But that’s not really on the topic of this post, so sorry for the minor derail!

  17. You’d never see something like that about a male athlete – look how handsome he is! – no, it’s all about how he trains, where he grew up, what’s his motivation, etc.

    Actually, I have seen that with some of the tennis boys, a few of whom I admit to finding rather dashing (and so therefore am a touch ambivalent about discussing in this context). But I do notice that the vast majority of their coverage, even when focused on their gorgeous, does not ever – ever – omit the achievements in the bio, the motivation, the next tour stop, blah blah. So in that sense you’re still quite right.

  18. I noticed this too. After watching the team gymnastics, I googled them to learn more (unsexy things) about them because I think they are amazing athletes. One of the first pages that came up about Sacramone was a profile of her, and one of the items in the profile was, “Why she thinks she’s too good for you: she went to an Ivy League college.”
    I was like…wait…what? She thinks…she’s too good..for me…? Ohhh…right. Dudes want to bang her. Puke.

  19. “…one of the items in the profile was, “Why she thinks she’s too good for you: she went to an Ivy League college.”
    I was like…wait…what? She thinks…she’s too good..for me…? Ohhh…right. Dudes want to bang her. Puke.”

    God, the nausea. Why do they feed that anger in the “average dudes” by trotting out all their own insecurities in print?

    It’s a d*mn scourge. I swear, it’s times like this when I wish I lived in a universe that actually had a Justice League and a Batphone. Somebody needs to stop these guys.

  20. No shit. And just to tell you guys more about Oskana Chusovitna, she doesn’t look like Barbie for sure-she looks like something out of the Women’s Motorcycle Contingent at gay pride. That’s one reason I just LOVE her.
    You should see some of the comments on the YouTube montage I did for Alicia after Team Finals last Tuesday. They’re just disgusting.
    And these guys wonder why they can’t seem to get laid.

  21. Godless Heathen, on August 18th, 2008 at 9:26 pm Said:
    makes people act batshit crazy

    *cough* I’m crazy, these people are acting like assholes.

    Thanks for this, Godless Heathen. The less conflation of “crazy” with “asshole” there is, the better. Definitely two categories that shouldn’t be mixed up.

    And more generarlly on topic…yeah. Once again, the MSM assumption (yeah, Fox is the worst of them, but it’s unfortunately quite mainstream) that women exist merely to provide male gratification EVEN WHEN WE’RE CLEARLY DOING THINGS OTHER THAN HET-FUCKING infuriates me past the point of coherence. Just…just….ARGH! Athlete! Competing in a sport! At the highest international level! Whether some idiot on the Internet — or anywhere else! — thinks she’s hot IS. NOT. RELEVANT. !!!!!!!e!eventy!one!!

    *headdesk10x*

  22. The news story should’ve pointed out that this is a sign that we’re creating a new generation of pedophiles through media and advertising, they might loose some of their advertising though. I can see why they wouldn’t do that.

    “Hey wow, that’s so hot! She’s 20 years old and built like she’s 10, it’s like being able to fantasize sexually about a little girl, but legally not being a pedophile!”

    Is that what these “men” are saying? I doubt it, but that is what their behaviour is saying. So much in our media, saying that it’s wrong to admire women, but proper to idealize an ideal that mirrors that of a 13 year old girl, now we’ve got young men clamoring to get hot pics, of someone developmentaly at the age of 12.

    Nobody is saying, hey wait isn’t it wrong that our generation of men are being taught to be sexually attracted to small children? That isn’t newsworthy? I have been wondering what I would say if it was my son, who was getting excited over finding out a pre-pubescent looking 20 year old wasn’t “jailbait”

    I’d tell him that women are sexy, not women who look like little children, not child-like women who behave like they’re 13, women are sexy. That if this is a problem for him, he needs to see a psychatrist. I wouldn’t have a pedophile in my home. It is as simple as this, looks like a 10 year old = desire for a 10 year old.

    Who will be thinking this is a cute news story, when these men turned deviant by a society enamored with “women-children” start praying on little girls?

  23. Don’t confuse Alicia with He Kexin or something – Alicia looks like a teenager, not a child. Perhaps I’m overly generous, but that’s what *I* interpreted the “she’s legal” comments as – they like seeing women bound around in skimpy clothing but would prefer to see some actual signs of sexual development, not girls who look unsexually young.

    I’m pretty sure there’s a lot of viewers who would prefer to ogle non-child bodies.

  24. Of course, there is in some corners a growing obsession with skinny childlike bodies, which I find slightly amusing…many years ago in a sociology class when we were talking about the unrealistic model of Barbie, with her ludicrous proportions, I predicted that the childlike anime-girl model would come to replace it (and be even more unhealthy)…

  25. How dare she not be Michael Phelps!

    Anyhoo, is it a new development that the media ogles the bodies of underage gymnasts and laments the body hiding of women’s swimsuits, or am I simply more sensitive to it now that I’m older and a feminist?

  26. I have never seen anything like the sexism-fest of the current Olympics coverage, and I’m 43 and have identified as a feminist since I was 7.

    Simon “IT’S ALL ABOUT THE BOOBIES” Barnes has an equally pathetic colleague at the London Times.

  27. “It is as simple as this, looks like a 10 year old = desire for a 10 year old.”

    Perhaps I’m being overly sensitive, Jackie, but I really have to take issue with your comment.

    Firstly, I don’t think the argument has any relevance to this particular situation because Sacramone is not built like a child. I think that is probably why she is getting the bulk of the “I’d hit that” comments–she has more curves than the “typical” gymnast, including breasts that visibly bounce when she runs.

    But more importantly, I find your general premise somewhat insulting and body negative. My best friend since childhood is very short, quite thin, not curvy, and sweet-faced. In short, she looks very child-like. Even at 27, she’ll be asked if her parents are home if she answers the front door alone. She has to show ID to get into R-rated movies, and was offered the kiddie menu at restaurants all through high school. She is also a married woman. Her husband, although only a year older than her in age is occasionally mistaken for her father, and is regularly glared at by strangers on the street if they are “caught” displaying any affection.

    According to your logic, this man is a pedophile in waiting because he is attracted to his wife, who is sometimes mistaken for a child.

    It is not a child’s body shape that makes them “off limits,” it’s their innocence, powerlessness, and immaturity. In contrast to my friend, I was an early bloomer. At 13 I was mistaken for my father’s wife. Was the adult man who tried to trap me into sleeping with him then more or less sick than the man who married my “child-like” friend ten years later?

    I’m getting worked up and losing sight of my point. I do understand that there’s a difference between being attracted to a person you know and love and being attracted to a celebrity’s image. I agree that there seems to be a trend toward infatilizing women and sexualizing young girls that is certainly disturbing. But I still think that statements like the one I quoted boil down to “certain bodies are not OK” and “certain people should never be seen as sexual beings.”

    I guess in a nutshell: the point is that sexualized comments like the ones in Kate’s post are wrong because they diminish a woman’s accomplishments as less important than her fuckability, NOT because they are aimed at somebody who doesn’t appear “womanly enough.”

    Sorry for the length… I guess this hit an open nerve.

  28. Missa, I thought this issue might come up, and yes I was over-simplifying what is, as many issues are, something that belongs in a grey area.

    I’m not saying there is anything wrong with your best friend and her husband. I even saw something on TV, with a person in a similar situation to your friend’s, and she was talking about having exactly the same issues.

    I didn’t mean to come across as unsympathetic towards that. However, your friend’s situation in the scheme of things as far as I know, isn’t that common. The prevalence of our society sexualizing women looking like children, is common.

    If I knew your friend and her husband, I’d be cool with it. It’s a unique situation however. What I’m discussing is the bigger picture, that there are men being trained by our society that embraces a disturbingly youthful ideal of a woman, to perfer a child’s body over an adult woman’s body.

    I’m sorry if it seems like I’m repeating myself, but when you put together that fat on women, which by all means is a natural part of getting older is deemed unattractive. That magazines constantly display sexualized pictures of women who look barely 13 as advertising, as well as similar advertising on television. That no woman over what would seem age 18 is ever shown in a movie. That is breeding a culture of men, who are going to be attracted to what in MOST cases is an ideal of a girl not a woman.

    Let me ask you this Missa, would your friend say it’s more important that she shouldn’t have to face judgement based on her looks, than seeing that children aren’t sexually abused or exploited? I doubt she would. If I were her, I’d say to people who showed concern, “I really do appreciate your concern in regards for children who may be being abused or exploited, however I am not a child.” and just leave it at that.

    It’s a much bigger issue than your friend and her husband, and I’m sorry if you are unwilling to see that.

  29. “I’m sorry if you are unwilling to see that.” … That’s a rather backhanded thing to say, don’t you think?

    No one’s denying that it’s a problem if the underage form is promoted as the ideal, but judging people by appearance alone is still bad, and abusing/exploiting a child is still bad even if that child went through puberty quite early.

  30. “It’s a much bigger issue than your friend and her husband, and I’m sorry if you are unwilling to see that.”

    Way to be dismissive of my entire point. Did you even read what I wrote?

    Of course it’s bigger than my friend and her husband. But the fact is you came on to a post about an ADULT woman being talked about as a sex object rather than a remarkable athlete and argued that the real problem was with HER BODY not meeting some nebulous standard of maturity. You took issue not with the fact that these comments reduce a woman to her body, but that they were aimed at the wrong type of body.

    “Let me ask you this Missa, would your friend say it’s more important that she shouldn’t have to face judgement based on her looks, than seeing that children aren’t sexually abused or exploited? I doubt she would.”

    It’s not an either/or situation. Judging my friend and looking at her husband with suspicion does nothing to protect ACTUAL CHILDREN. As I said earlier, by 13, hell, even by 12, I could “pass” for 21. I was 5’4”, 130ish pounds, sported a full B cup, and had a rather angular face. I may not have looked out of place on a college campus, but I was no less a CHILD than my younger looking friends were. And the man who took advantage of my immaturity, powerlessness, and naiveté to try to force me to sleep with him is no less culpable of child molestation than he would have been if he had targeted a less developed classmate. It’s not a child-like body that makes a person vulnerable, it’s being a child.

    It’s true that media images infantilize women and sexualize girls. Some of this *is* undoubtedly due to the idealization of thinness and youthfulness as markers of beauty and desirability. But it also has to do with concepts of women as submissive, innocent, and weak. This is about way more than what a woman “should” look like.

    The problem is not that youthful-looking women are sexualized, the problem is that ALL women are sexualized. All women, all the time, no matter what their accomplishments. Unless of course said woman is “too fat” or “too old” in which case, it’s like they’re not actually women in the first place. If all women are viewed as sexual objects, it is inevitable that girls will be viewed with the same lens.

    Declaring that certain women aren’t womanly enough to be found attractive helps exactly no one.

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