Opinion

Is Sports Illustrated Partly to Blame for #MeToo? You Decide.

|
Posted: Feb 11, 2018 12:01 AM
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not represent the views of Townhall.com.
Is Sports Illustrated Partly to Blame for #MeToo? You Decide.

I know that it defies modern intellectual & academic circles to say so, but sometimes truth is blatantly obvious.

I know that the more highly educated you happen to be the more you disagree with even the possibility of that premise being remotely true.

Yet many times it is—so painfully—right there in broad daylight.

One such issue is the unique chemistry between men and women. You probably didn’t know this, but men find women attractive. Sometimes, and I know you’ve probably never been told this either, they find them even more desired (not in a healthy wholesome way, but in a really obsessive compulsive possessive way) if they in fact find them in various states of undress.

Oddly when women are more undressed, it affects men in ways that sometimes are unwanted, undesired and unappreciated by said women.

The reason this phenomenon happens is defined as “objectification.” This is when the man actually begins to no longer see the woman as a whole person, (one who is clothed in a physical body and appearance but also complete with a heart, mind, and soul,) but instead begins obsessing about the gratification of conquest.

There are many reasons for this, and its important to point out that all men are continually (as in every second, of every hour, of every day) tempted to “objectify,” but it’s also important to point out that not all men give in to the temptation.

Which is why the discussion in the broad culture of sexual harassment took a turn for the stupid this week with Sports Illustrated.

For years the weekly magazine has annually published a swimsuit edition the same week as Valentine’s Day. (Because nothing says “I love you” to your actual valentine like staring at the barely covered bodies of super models that are air-brushed.) Every year the issue sells better than practically every other issue they sell for the year. 

Reactions have been typical. More conservative people consider the issue a "gateway drug” of sexual awakening for the 13 year old boy who sees it for the first time. People on the societal left view the magazine with a wink and nod and scoff at people who’ve objected to it. At least these were the reactions (and to varying degrees along the spectrum) prior to the year of #MeToo.

After the tidal wave of confession of thousands of women who have been injured by sex fiends disguised as famous people, Sports Illustrated had dilemma on it’s hands. How should it handle the idea of even continuing the annual soft-porn issue, if it truly wished to make a statement regarding the rampant issue of men wrongfully harassing and objectifying women?

The magazine could’ve gone bold. They could’ve produced an issue where they stood with women who have accomplished great things in say… I don’t know… "sports.” Celebrated them as achievers. Perhaps one or two had to overcome in some past existence an issue of harassment and they chose to fight through it and to achieve ultimate success. Perhaps they could have included a dramatic example of women who were able to avoid such pain in their lives and pick their brains on ideas of how to improve the safety and future of other women in the days to come.

What they decided to do instead was include three completely nude models in the issue—a supermodel, the daughter of a supermodel, and a plus sized model—and paint words that appear to be trite statements on various limbs.

The editor in attempting to explain her thinking in proposing the issue said, (“I see) it as an opportunity to continue with an idea I've been interested in for a while: how can I use the images that you’ve come to expect from S.I. to change attitudes about women?”

I’m not really sure that she can. 

And again… let’s be painfully and obviously truthful… Men bought the issue in years past because they liked to gaze (and objectify in a sexual sense) at women deemed “beautiful." They did so because they are sexually interested in beautiful women. So the images that “you’ve come to expect from S.I.” can not be used to change attitudes about women, or the men who objectify the women, or the biological desires that accompany them.

Getting the women more naked, making them appear to the men “reading" to be more vulnerable, doesn’t bring further dignity to any woman.

It is easy to see and to assert that men do not hold women in higher regard who have “put it all out there.” But Georgi Boorman of The Federalist says the research is also empirical “Studies show across the board, whether the viewer is male or female, stripping down lowers respectability."

Or as one of my very wise lady friends said to me this week, “Women shouldn’t be surprised that when you dress in a away that exploits yourself, that others will want to exploit you as well.”

Another one of my friends (also a lady) added, “By any available data, immodesty encourages objectification, which is always the opposite of respect. Feminists can’t rewire the human brain."

When a man crosses the line into the exploitation and objectification of a woman that always involves his proactive decision. He stands responsible. 

But is it necessary to continually tempt all men to cross those lines?

In the 2017 issue of the magazine a model appeared in a moistened, skin tight, sheer (see through) tank top with the words “A Woman Doesn’t Have To Be Modest To Be Respected” imprinted upon her breasts.

So there you go...

For every single girl cheering the girl-power-moment of the model with the “courage” to “say it,” there were hundreds of men who thought about nothing more than bedding the “hottie in the tank top.”

Our culture is fundamentally dishonest about the intricacies of how men and women relate. We ignore biological truth all the time in the effort to convince ourselves of larger esoteric statements. 

Sometimes we even ignore perilous warning signs in allowing a doctor, a producer, a coach, even a youth pastor with unfettered access to far-too-vulnerable girls/women because we assert those nonsensical esoteric beliefs more than we believe natural biology.

That’s enormously stupid.

If we really want to see change in this area of life, we need to do it much better. Be much more honest. And maybe we can create a better society.

So am I saying Sports Illustrated is to blame for #MeToo? I’ll let you decide. 

But as for the idiocy of these “empowerment ideas,” I leave you with a thought from another one of the smartest women I know.

““A woman does not have to be modest in order to be respected… But it sure does help!”