Every year we have a very lazy debate about the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition. Why? How can a magazine that touts the accomplishments of ALL athletes still objectify women?
It’s a silly debate, and it’s hurtful. It poses the women who elect to pose as non-people. As pawns. It perpetuates the stereotype that women who celebrate their bodies have no brains. We bicker back and forth, and meanwhile, the women in question are voiceless. Nobody asks them how they feel about it, and if they ARE asked, their opinions are silenced. They are told that they are wrong, that they are pushing the cause of feminism back to the stone age.
We decide that their opinions, the opinions of women who are absolutely the closest to the situation in question, are wrong.
We, as people who have never been asked to pose as a career, explain to those who have why it’s wrong to do so. We, as people who really have no idea how this works, explain to women how they should conduct themselves and create a business.
We tell them they shouldn’t do what they do for a living, but how many of us offer them alternatives? How many say, “Kate Upton, I’ll hire you to work at my aeronautics company”? How are we advancing our sisters by telling them that they should quit their lucrative jobs in favor of…well, something? Whatever? What, exactly, is the message we’re sending them?
And do we play these same games with men? If we knew a man who was posing shirtless on the regular, would we tell him that he should knock it off and work at a Denny’s? No way. We’d high five that man and ask him what his secret was.
Look at Chris Hemsworth. Or Chris Evans. Or Chris Pratt. Almost anyone named Chris with a smokin’ bod. Look at Dwayne Johnson. Look at Terry Crews. Is anyone telling these guys they should knock it off? No! Is anyone complaining about the gratuitous, underhand-holding-a-helicopter-with-my-bicep shot from the Captain America movie? No. Is anyone asking why Terry Crews almost always seems to be sleeveless in movies? No.
All of this is why Kate Upton is the world’s ultimate feminist.
Think about it. In 2017, it takes guts to be Kate Upton. So many despise you because of what they think you represent. So many, who talk about loving all shapes and sizes, who talk about loving everyone, who talk a great game about loving ALL of our sisters, are so quick to turn on you. Millions of people who don’t know you, who have only seen your image, judge you. It’s exactly what we despise, judging a book by its cover, looking at someone and deciding the content of their character. And yet, here we are, so willing to do this to Kate Upton.
If feminism is about equality, then it’s hard to tell women working in one of the few fields that are more lucrative for women than men that they should stop.
If feminism is about loving our bodies, we shouldn’t be blaming Kate Upton for loving hers.
If feminism is about seeing people as people, we can’t look at Kate Upton as the embodiment of what’s wrong with media images of women. We can’t take a real, human, flesh and blood woman and hold her up as the symbol of everything that’s wrong.
Here’s the thing. In 2017, being on the cover of Sports Illustrated in a bikini (or part of one) is pushing the boundaries even more than ever. Not only are you sexualized and lusted after by some, but you are hated by others. You’re the symbol of a world that
Okay, truth time again! This has been day 2 of writing bullshit thinkpieces because I think it’s an easy thing to do. And so far, 2 for 2.
For the record, I don’t think Kate Upton is the ultimate feminist. I’m probably not a good person to weigh in on who is and isn’t a good feminist. And frankly I find that discussion to be very boring. Make a feminism Olympics already and we’ll settle it all, eh? We can all find out who is the best at feminism, because that’s important.
Tune in next time for another ThinkPete: The Thinkpieces That Have No Point Other Than Me Confirming That Thinkpieces Are Dumb.