Friday, 20 July 2012

The Sad Truth

Sometimes, you go to a cafe for lunch and there's a copy of The Sun on your table and you flick through it with a look of disgust on your face while you're eating. And sometimes, while you're flicking through, you come across an article about the Olympic female beach volleyball team and how a decision has been made that they are definitely going to wear their bikinis as long as the weather stays above 16 degrees. And in the article, written by Alex West, it says things like, male fans were up in arms when [they were] told on Monday how all the girls could don frumpy long-sleeved tops and leggings if temperatures remained low.

And then, in the same article, you read that a spokeswoman for the volleyball team has said, we’re thrilled Sun readers have shown such a healthy interest in the Olympic volleyball team. The girls know the bikinis are helping them gain popularity in the sport.

So, you get really angry. Not because some women are wearing bikinis but because of sexism and because some people really think that there is equality between men and women. And because it's the 21st Century. So then you call Alex West at The Sun and ask for the contact details of the Olympic spokeswoman in question. But Alex West isn't available, so you send him an email that he doesn't reply to. And then you have this idea to call the press department responsible for the Olympic volleyball team and you speak to a woman called Sue and you ask her if she can give you the contact details of the spokeswoman in the article. Sue tells you that she's almost certain who it is but that she needs to check and that she'll call you back.

Sue does call you back and she asks you why you want to contact the spokeswoman and you tell Sue that you want to ask the spokeswoman some questions like, doesn't she feel totally fucking depressed by the misogyny of the article? And, does she really think that the best publicity she can give her beach volleyball team is an assurance to men that the athletes will be wearing their bikinis? And, what does this assurance to the men actually, actually mean? Does it mean that the beach volleyball team and its press office totally understands that men want to look at women in their bikinis and think about fucking them and that everyone concerned is just completely OK with that? And, does she think that this sends a positive message to people about women in sport (or in general)? And, why did she refer to the women as girls? And, does she really think that what constitutes a healthy interest in women's beach volleyball is male spectators being up in arms about the possibility that female athletes won't be wearing bikinis? And, what is she playing at?

So, you tell Sue all of this and then Sue says that she's actually not that sure who the spokeswoman is after all.

And then Sue - who has a (probably not badly paid) job, don't forget, at the press department at the beach volleyball team - literally says this:

The thing is, the girls know that sex sells and really they see it as part of their duty. I mean, you're talking to someone who's a feminist herself but that's the sad truth I'm afraid; there's just nothing we can do to change it.

The reason you know that this is what Sue literally said is because you wrote it down while she was saying it because you could feel it coming.

So, after that, you get this feeling in your stomach that's like a bleak, empty kind of hopelessness and you thank Sue for her time and you put the telephone down and you sit on your bed and scream into a pillow. For quite a while actually.


  1. I know the States has a long way to go, don't get me wrong... but I'm living in Korea and while the USA is, maybe, at step 40 (of 100), Korea is at step 15 (of 100) towards equality for men and women. I could probably write a book on the shit that has happened to me here and the shit that happens to other women I know here as a result of being a. a woman b. a foreigner and c. young. It amazes me with how economically advanced Korea is, it's like the Middle Ages as far as social justice.

    Sorry, I didn't mean to mitigate what you are venting about. I get pissed about it too... but if that gets me as worked up as you, you can imagine how incredibly claustrophobic and enraged I am about the prejudices and injustices here.

  2. This Morning has a Ms Senior Citizen competition at the moment. It has a swimsuit round. I can't see any problems with this. None at all. anna xx