02 April 2013

Beauty is a long tradition

Beauty vs. Sexuality

Yes what Peter Sagan did on the podium of the Tour of Flanders last week was wrong. Peter Sagan was offensive, not because he was young or without discretion but because he behaved badly. Behavior is rooted in belief, and I believe his behavior showed how he views women. Peter Sagan was wrong and should have apologized to the woman in public, just as he insulted her in public. 

So why is anyone questioning whether Podium Girls have a place in cycling?

The Podium Girl's behavior was not wrong. Why are we blaming them? It is as if people believe that if the podium girls were not present, Peter Sagan would not have been tempted. Do you see how fundamentally wrong this thinking is? They did not ask to be treated that way simply by being beautiful and agreeing to present awards.

We have long admired beauty in our society. Much because it is a rare thing. Most of us are not beautiful. So why not admire what god and evolution has made wonderfully. I like beauty in all things manmade - art, music, food, buildings, and people. That is correct, beautiful people are a joy to look at. I like my movie stars and models good looking because that is what they have to offer. They may not have everything, but they got that. 

Is it wrong to display beauty? Is it wrong for a good looking man to get a particular job, for a good-looking athlete to get better endorsements, for a beautiful women to be a presenter of cycling trophies? It is their gift and they have made their job from it. Deciding to do their job does not mean that they allow other people to sexually or verbally objectify or humiliate them without their consent. Sexual degradation is a result of seeing a person as a lesser creature.

Peter Sagan was not reacting to the Podium Girl as a beautiful presenter. Peter Sagan was reacting to that poor woman as less than. If he saw her as an equal he would have asked, "pardon me, may I please squeeze your bum in front of millions of people?" Does that sound like something he would have done - no. He didn't even consider her. Being in the spotlight of sports is a bit like being President, it is short term, I wish they would hold their act together and be civil. Yet we are repeatedly shown a jerk is a jerk.

We cannot be naive to the inequalities of women around the world. I am of the Title 9 generation of American women. At the very tail end of the Baby Boomers, one of the many who barely began to reap the benefits of what the women before me made possible with their feminist revolution. It hasn't been that long since woman have been granted semi-equal rights in the United States. Many other countries are far, far behind our short progress.

Events like this are saddening because I realize how much further we have to go. I may not follow women's cycling as I do men's cycling, but that does not mean I am unaware of the inequality of pay and support women's cycling suffers under. When incidents like this happen, we must speak up, simply to voice an opinion, to acknowledged it was wrong, offensive, and a change is demanded.

Banishing beautiful Podium Girls and hiding women away so that these offenses do not happen is not the answer. Changing economics, mindset and behavior is the answer. 

What is most evident in this story, is that Peter Sagan has been brought up to believe that it is okay to demean half the population of this planet. In 2013, this remains a great social problem across the world. Equality.

Beauty is not the problem.

My blog has been inundated this week with visitors to these posts: I'm calling this a trend (from 2010), The fans want Podium Girls? (2012), and Podium Girls 2012 USA Pro Challenge (2012). I have mixed feelings about the future of Podium girls, but I am always fearful when the behavior of how women dress or act, or their mere presence, is seen as the problem. I am also wondering if Peter Sagan will be surprised when women forgo autographs and photos and go straight for groping him in public without permission, won't that be LOL funny enough for Facebook and Photoshop.