Beach volleyball

On a website dedicated to style that attracts men, I know that beach volleyball belongs under the sartorial category of So Right, but on the social side, I can’t help but to think So Wrong.

Am I a buzz kill? Probably. But first let me say this: I love a bikini; at last count I had 12. I also love athletic bodies and powerful woman. Put the two together and you’d think I’d be in Heaven.

But the feminist in me can’t help but to get irked by the production, the photography and the pervy focus on secret hand signals that cause commentators eyes to linger on women’s asses. Or the water cooler chat about it all.

These Olympic games gave us some of the most inspiring women in recent times, especially in Britain. We had the unfathomable graciousness, talent and six-pack of Jessica Ennis, the history making punch of Nicola Adams, the endurance of Judo player Gemma Gibbons who fought back the pain of a broken thumb to take Silver. Then there’s the combination of speed, power and extreme modesty present in multiple cyclists at the Velodrome and multiple rowers at Eton Dorney. We even saw Sarah Attar, the first female from Saudi Arabia to compete in Olympic athletics, complete her race even though she was 43 seconds behind the competition. She hoped it would ‘spark something amazing.’ That is what the Olympics should be about.

Yet, for the first few days, men were entranced about the camera angles and interactive features of beach volleyball. And women played right into it, cooing about what we’d do to have a body like that (here’s a tip: start with the gym). We didn’t flag that in the realm of all Olympic events, beach volleyball is definitely on the more leisurely end of the spectrum. And those outfits? To pretend for one minute they have anything to do with performance — IN A LANDLOCKED LONDON, MOSTLY AT NIGHT — is laughable. People wear bikinis to play beach volleyball because we are at the beach. You soak up some sun, you go for a swim, you eat a sandwich, you work it off in a playful set. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

I know I’m risking losing some subscribers, but I can’t help to call sexism on this one. (By the way, please don’t leave me, instead just leave mean comments. I love a debate!)

These Olympics have been amazing and I don’t want them to end. London has been a phenomenal host. These athletes have impressed me like none before. I don’t mean to take anything away from the beach volleyball players who have worked so hard to get here, but I do want people to take into account some of the less noble traits that colour society, even within the greater vision of the games.

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  1. #1 by Courtney on August 9, 2012 - 9:51 pm

    You’ll find no quarrel with me – a hearty AGREE here. There is absolutely no performance-related reason their uniforms must be so skimpy, or the camera angles so pervy. It’s likely a bid for viewership, and some will argue that anything that draws attention to women’s athletics is worth the risk of, er, overexposure. But I think it cheapens the sport a good bit. For Pete’s sake, hot women will be (just as?) attractive in regular shorts and at non-salacious angles (see Wambach, Abby of USA women’s football/soccer).

    Also, while we’re on the subject of irritating treatment of females in the Olympics, I’m aggravated about how much conversation revolved around Gabby Douglas’ hair during her gold-medal winning performance for USA. STFU about her hair. She’s a talented, hard-working 16-year-old girl who shone brightly during her competition. She should worry what viewers are going to think if her hair gets mussed? Seriously? And who was likely judging her…do you think it was adult males clicking their tongues and saying she should have that bun under control? I don’t think so. It was women. This is what scores of women focused on – tweeting and facebooking their rage over a messy bun in an otherwise flawless performance by a fellow female (is “fellow female” an oxymoron? Sorry. You know what I mean). We’re upholding each other by judging this way?

    Whoops. Whose blog is this? Mine?

    • #2 by sohospeaks on August 9, 2012 - 9:59 pm

      It should be yours. You are on fire! Best line ever: ‘We’re upholding each other by judging this way?’ And Gaby Douglas did not make as much news over here, but from what I’ve seen on the Web, how could that smile not disarm the harshest critic?!

  2. #3 by gravitasbaby on August 10, 2012 - 12:31 am

    You’re right to make the form/function argument about the bikini in the Olympics, but I have to part ways with you about the sexism of the camera work. The beach volleyballers would have to get a good bit curvier to really attract an objectifying leer.

    • #4 by sohospeaks on August 11, 2012 - 9:34 am

      I think I run with an objectifying crowd; they seem to leer at just about anything!

  3. #5 by Kat on August 10, 2012 - 9:35 am

    Absolutely agree. I loved the atmosphere at Horse Guards Parade but couldn’t help but feel the scantily dressed “cheerleaders” were there to distract the audience from the fact that the players were no longer nearly naked. It was a good year to change the uniform rules, given that matches were being played in the evening in 10 degree weather. As for the pervy photos, I think this sums it up best: http://www.metro.us/newyork/sports/article/1148979–what-if-every-olympic-sport-was-photographed-like-beach-volleyball

    • #6 by sohospeaks on August 11, 2012 - 9:33 am

      Brilliant article. By the way, am watching the diving right now. How they cover Tom Daly’s crotch with Kyron equally hilarious. He looks totally nude.

  4. #7 by A.M. on August 10, 2012 - 11:40 pm

    Soho! I’m really surprised by you hatin’ on the beach vballers! Going as far as to pull out the S card? S’cu?

    First, your view that beach volleyball is one of the more ‘leisurely’ Olympic sports. We aren’t talking that pick up game in the backyard with your crazy Uncle Sal, one hand holding his beer and the other holding up his shorts. This level of play is pretty much the hardest workout you’ll ever have. I’ve played pretty much every type of team sport, and I can honestly say that beach kicked my ass like no other. Playing indoor volleyball in college, I was training year round … sprints, plyometrics, weight lifting, and when I attempted to play beach, I was humiliated. Seriously. A hobbit with a gimpy leg would have probably played better. What these ladies can do on that court is outright astonishing to me. Also consider this, many athletes, especially sprint runners, team sports, or anyone who has to learn to take off fast, will TRAIN IN SAND to improve their performance. Leisurely? I think not, Soho.

    Now, for the hot topic – their uniforms. Yes, I call them uniforms because that is what they are. And, yes, they are small. But, in my experience, the fewer clothes you wear, the easier it is to brush the sand off of your body. Sand in your drawers hurts, Soho! And, yes, they are playing in land locked London – but for the rest of their career, they play in a bikini. At that level, with a win separating a loss by a mere point or two, I wouldn’t want to throw in a completely new feel on my body as part of the mind game you have with yourself when you shank a ball or miss a block. I wore the same elastic in my hair for years. When that sucker snapped, I was heart broken. They probably prefer to be in what they have come to feel they perform in the best.

    Anyway, just a few humble thoughts from a former beach vballer who never quite made it to the big leagues. If we still disagree, I say we duke in out in the sands of Vegas.

  5. #8 by jennamilly on August 10, 2012 - 11:44 pm

    I don’t want to be LordoftheRingsist, but I really would love to see a Hobbit in a bikini.

    • #9 by AM on August 11, 2012 - 12:55 am

      I can arrange that.

  6. #10 by sohospeaks on August 11, 2012 - 9:30 am

    AM – no need to duke it out. Love your comments — and thank you for them. But if you read closely, I ain’t hatin’ on the players, I’m hatin’ on the (bigger) game. Now look at the picture attached. A) is her six pack as nowhere near staunch as my girl Jessica’s and B) it was entirely too easy to find in a google search. That pic is more about her wax job than her game plan. It’s the coverage and response that I’m calling sexist… Jenna – I can show you a hobbit in a bikini, or at least a racy short film (cough).

    • #11 by AM on August 11, 2012 - 3:02 pm

      Perhaps I didn’t follow– are you suggesting the players should wear larger uniforms or that the press stops focusing in on them? Or both? I think I just read the “so wrong” part and nearly chocked on my giant ice cube (see FB comment). My personal opinion- if you want to attract men, play beach volleyball!! (As for the wax job, see hobbit in a bikini comment… )

  7. #12 by A.M. on August 11, 2012 - 3:05 pm

    whoops – choked!

  8. #13 by NohoShrieks on August 17, 2012 - 6:18 pm

    Terribly upset we didn’t get to see the lycra onesies…

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