Did any of you see Tenured Radical’s post yesterday about the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue 2014, “Happiness is a Cold, Plastic Doll?” This year it features Barbie on the cover, but the same old soft-core porn inside.
The point of TR’s post was to comment on the cultural significance of SI’s annual swimsuit issue. She noted her confusion when she first saw it in the 1970s, a decade in which porn was pushing into the mainstream, and Playboy had come to her campus to take some photos for “Girls of the Ivy League.” (This was 1978; recall that most Ivies hadn’t admitted women until the early 1970s. Welcome to campus, ladies!) TR writes that the swimsuit issue wasn’t porn, but yet it “wasn’t not porn, because everything was exposed except, as Monty Python would say, the ‘naughty bits.’” And yet–
The women were definitely chosen for their porny qualities. No model was included who didn’t have (as they used to say back in the 1970s) a “great rack,” or was not able to spread her legs, tip her butt up alluringly for potential rear entry, or cock her head back in that time-honored fashion that says, “Come and get it, Buster Brown.”
But like those who reject changing the name of the Washington Football Team, the swimsuit issue is spoken of as a tradition. Hence it is harmless, right? Wrong. The swimsuit issue is the porn that gets circulated in public, as if it were not really porn, which to me – makes it more sexist than the tabletop magazines that just say brightly: “we’re all about porn!” It’s the porn that gets delivered at the office, and it’s the porn that people think it’s ok for little boys to have, like the Charlie’s Angels and Farrah Fawcett posters that were so popular back in the day, because it helps them not grow up to be fags.
This is not what all but four or five of us commenting on the post learned. Instead, several porndogs wanted to turn the comments thread on this post into a strange personal porny fantasy involving fetishizing women’s bodies and insulting feminists and feminism at the same time. This is a fair summary of their threadjack:
- Forget these stupid feminist conversations–let’s get our aggressive TMI on: “One reason I like living in Scottsdale and near ASU is so I can see women, girls many of them, parading around lots of flesh, and truly very scantily clad leaving nothing to the imagination.”
- They believe that it’s not the SI swimsuit issue, but rather feminists who insult women: “I take issue with your condescending, patronizing and downright patriarchal judgment towards cheerleaders when you belittle them as “boobie girls”. I would assume these adults are intelligent rational agents.”
- They see sex work as a totally positive and always very lucrative career choice. Really! “Let’s see: Giselle Bundchen, cons: needs to stay thin, and hang around with A listers. Pros, annual income $42 million; athletic, successful, famous, good-looking husband, who makes not quite as much. Academic career: cons, spend a substantial fraction of your life in school; limited public respect; flexible but generally heavy work load, whiny students, whiny colleagues; chance of a permanent job small and getting smaller. Pros: a princely $100 k a year, maybe, with 10 years experience.I’d say taking one’s clothes off, assuming people will pay one to do it, looks pretty good.” (Because they all get paid like Giselle Bundchen for their 40-year careers as models, right?)
- When challenged about their delusions, one responded “Why you disgusted by the prospect that men might whack off to your bod?”
- Apparently, it’s feminism and not soft-core porn that is apparently very harmful to women: “Feminism has created millions of miserable working women who’d rather be home with their kids instead of shelling out thousands of dollars for daycare and never seeing them.” Also, Barbie is perfectly fine with his daughters, and it’s really women who police each other’s and their own bodies, not men and not the soft-core porn vendors.
- Feminism, and not misogyny, is the reason so many young women don’t identify as feminists.
- Finally, surprise!!! They don’t like moderated threads, and anyone who suggests that might be a good idea is merely “silencing” her critics.
You might wonder why I bother documenting this. These are hardly worthy adversaries or important people–no one seems to comment under a real name, or at least not a name I recognize. (Besides, I’m willing to go out on a ledge here to say these trolls are not in fact the most heterosexually successful men out there. Aside from the misogyny, who has the time to troll like this? Not guys who have something real going on, that’s for sure.) I’m bothering because I think exposure and ridicule are the only ways to combat behavior like this.
Also, I think some intelligent people might like to discuss Tenured Radical’s ideas about the SI swimsuit issue and its place in modern American culture. (For example, both Flavia from Ferule and Fescue and Dr. Cleveland from Dagblog contributed intelligent comments.) So consider this comments thread your turn to engage the ideas in that post, or in their comments, or on mine. Or, just say something takes Tenured Radical and/or feminism seriously.