It’s very interesting to hear the high dudgeon that has greeted George Mitchell’s report on steriod use in Major League Baseball. No one is shocked that superstars like Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens were juiced–we know it’s not an accident of improved nutrition that they suddenly bulked up in their mid-30s and achieved more at this relatively advanced age than they had as younger men. We just disapprove. Imagine–what will we tell the children?
Well, here’s what I’ll tell the children: women in the public eye whose bodies are their livelihood are highly modified, sometimes now even before they’re out of their 20s, and we not only expect it, we applaud and reward it. Actresses and models routinely subject themselves to breast implants, butt lifts, “mommy makeovers,” botox and silicone injections, and other surgical and medical interventions so as to “improve” themselves, fight ageing, and otherwise get an edge on their competition. Why do we regard the female body as open to modification, while we insist that men do it all with just personal trainers and clean living? What is Pamela Anderson’s grotesquely pornalized body if not the female equivalent of Barry Bonds’ comic-book heroized body? Everyone knows that Anderson’s breasts are not her own, and that she’s a mother of two children in her 40s, and yet the fact that she has sacrificed comfort and health in the service of male fantasy makes her more desirable. The funny thing is that the ball players’ bodily modification was done not in the name of making themselves more sexually desirable–although that may be a pleasant side-effect of being the Home Run Kings–but to serve male fantasies too, the fantasies of male fans who want to be served up home runs and no-hitters all day long without their sports heroes tiring. It’s this pornified male fantasy that has paved the way to steroids a-go-go in MLB.
And it’s also why your children might not want to hear too many bedtime stories from Historiann…
2 Responses to “Bodily modification, gender, and the pornification of MLB”