Surprise, surprise. Another list of female athletes praised for their “hotness” rather than their athletic skill.
It may not be shocking, but I have to admit this trope is getting a little tiresome, to say the least. Some people in the ski industry share my sentiments. Lynsey Dyer (a pro skier who also happens to be on this list) and Mike Rogge (Author at Powder Magazine) both have some great responses to the article:
I know none of this was personal, I know you were probably trying to hit your numbers to appease your advertisers. I know that when the pressure is on it might be hard to remember that “hits” or “likes” come from people. You may have forgotten that a photo on a computer screen is connected to a living breathing human, just like you. A human, just like you, who is doing their best to live in integrity and authenticity without selling out to the man.
I know there’s a lot of pressure from your competition, who get their page views up by playing to the lowest denominator. This is a pressure every one of us feels at some level. As women we know we can play the “hot” card any time and our number of fans will sky-rocket.
If I wanted to play that game I would have put that picture up myself long ago. Instead, it’s a daily challenge to be true to the person I am striving to be over what I know will get the “likes”. I have a motto that says “Be so damn good they can’t ignore you.” I offer it to you now.
I challenge you to be good Freeskier, be so damn good in your clever posts and progressive photography, in your writing and forward thinking that people can’t help but follow you as a leader. I know it’s not the easy way but I know for fact it is what Freeskier Magazine was founded on back in the day. I challenge you to be the progressive, forward thinking magazine your founder set out to create. The magazine all of us was inspired by and dreamed to be showcased in for our talent.
For a little insight, one of the most progressive trends in skiing today is that of women rising up as legitimate athletes beyond their value as models to sell a product. The ladies are creating their own luck without waiting to be recognized or invited. Many established and up and comers are performing at a higher level, producing their own trips, shoots and content without objectifying themselves though I know it crosses their minds a lot. After all, tha’d be the easy way, but they didn’t fall in love with skiing because it was easy.
Just sayin’…If you’re a dude who might someday genuinely want a girl he can be active with, it’s in your best interest to support women’s skiing for the SKIING over the pin-ups. You’ve known plenty of “hot” girls but finding one you can do stuff outside with, now that’s harder to find. The more we encourage the ladies to participate the more they will feel welcome in this community; directly addressing that ski-town guy-to-girl ratio issue some people like to complain about.… get the picture? Good, can we just go skiing now?
So Donny, maybe you were tired of opening day edits and galleries from outerwear press trips, and that’s why you posted your story but here are a few story angles you could’ve pursued instead. Don’t worry about using these. To paraphrase Lil Wayne, “I got so many of them, I give that shit away for free!” Here goes:
-Ingrid? What hasn’t she done? She’s done so much, in fact, that just this month two other major babes (in a literary sense), Heather Hansman and Megan Michelson, penned excellent features on her many accomplishments, struggles, and victories. This one writes itself. And Ingrid is one of the most professional, kind, and thoughtful people you’ll ever interview. Give her a call.
-Meanwhile, Lynsey Dyer, while never one to shy away from the camera for a bikini photograph, is hard at work on a two-year film project. In talking with her, Lynsey doesn’t want her film to be a “statement” or “women’s issue” silly thing like that. She wants to make a rad ski movie that just happens to have only women in it. I wonder how that’s going? Maybe give her a call. Use the telephone. See what she says. Write it down and post it.
Who knows? Maybe, in your job as a magazine/website editor, you could lend her a hand or put her in touch with good connects. People helping people. It’s an awesome feeling, man, and one that makes me want to work in the ski industry for a long time.
-And while that adorable photo of Caroline Gleich in roller blades is certainly one of her many modeling photos, the December Powder Cover Skier is on her way to the summit of 20,702 foot Chimborazo in Ecuador. That’s the tallest mountain in the country. You’d know that if you did a little research instead of Googling the always terrible Female Pro Skier Name + the word “hot.” I’m actually Googling Ecuador now because I only vaguely have an idea where that country is on a map.
-Keltie Hansen? You mean one of the rising stars in Canada’s already stacked halfpipe program? I wonder what her experience is growing into an Olympic athlete in the shadow of the legendary Sarah Burke?
-Or how about Sierra Quitiquit? Maybe talk to her about what it’s like to be a polarizing figure in a male dominated sport where women struggle to get, really, anything and she’s riding a wave of success in both modeling and skiing? I did, but that doesn’t mean you can’t. Check out mine on ESPN’s Freeskiing page, see what I missed, then make me look like an idiot that doesn’t know how to ask questions.
Okay, that should get you started, Donny.
Well said, on both accounts. As far as progression for women in athletics goes, you have to take the small victories when you can get them. And for every increasingly boring “10 hottest women” lists there are, there are more and more great responses like these, by women and men alike.
As a sidenote, I happened upon an awesome group called She Jumps, a non-profit with the mission of increasing female participation in outdoor activities. Find ’em on Facebook HERE! For more awesome girl power also check out TiTs DEEP, a group of “ladies charging in extreme sports” and Female Wolfpack, Rachel Burk’s website to increase female visibility in action sports.
Confession: I am a reformed sexist.
For a long time I held the view that on average, women are not as capable as men. This view was based on my experience; it was what I saw around me. So many vapid women with as much substance as the reality TV stars they watched each night. But a relatively recent realization brought this view crashing to the ground: possession of two X chromosomes does not render a person less capable, but our culture does an excellent job of it.
Last year I was conversing with a gender issues expert who opened my eyes to the world from a woman’s perspective. She explained what is was like to be constantly objectified, to be treated differently because you are a woman, and what is was like to grow up with different expectations and values thanks to cultural conditioning.
This realization led me down the rabbit hole of gender (in)equality. Suddenly evidence of the ‘oversexification’ and devaluing of women was everywhere. It became no wonder so many of my female peers acted this way. What was ‘normal’ became nauseating.
As a man, I know that I can never fully comprehend this reality, but I wish to share as much as I can grasp to you, here and now.
A False Sense of Gender Equality
I’ll start off by letting Google do the talking about the cultural consensus on men and women:
Shocked? I wasn’t.
The first thing that needs to be understood is the importance of role models in a young person’s life. The most primary role models are, of course, immediate family, but beyond that lie popular culture icons. Books, TV and movies provide bigger-than-life characters whom we consciously and unconsciously mirror.
Men need not look very far to find an abundance of strong role models. Female role models of the same caliber, however, are few and far between. Most prominent female figures are worshiped for their looks, not their character or accomplishments. Even those women revered for their achievements have a strange knack for being very easy on the eyes.
Consider the plot of the vast majority of Hollywood films produced today. The male protagonist is the superhero, the brilliant writer, the CEO, the President, the secret agent. Meanwhile the female protagonist more often that not serves as eye-candy for the audience and the prize needing to be rescued for the male hero.
What This Means
The implications of this divide are ubiquitous.
Women have equally few leadership roles in the real world. As of 2011, women made up only 9 of 190 heads of state, 13% of parliamentary positions and 15% of top-level business positions internationally.
To make matters worse, we subconsciously harbor antagonism towards strong women. A recent Stanford study presented students with the biography of a successful Silicon valley investor. 50% of students were told the investor’s name was Heidi, and 50% were told it was Howard.
The results showed that students were much harsher on Heidi than on Howard across the board. Although they think she’s just as competent and effective as Howard, they don’t like her, they wouldn’t hire her, and they wouldn’t want to work with her. As gender researchers would predict, this seems to be driven by how much they disliked Heidi’s aggressive personality. The more assertive they thought Heidi was, the more harshly they judged her (but the same was not true for those who rated Howard).
Women are even lacking a voice in the media. The following infographic shows how little major news channels value the opinion of women, even concerning women’s issues:
But Things Are Changing…
Women’s rights and empowerment have certainly come a long way in the past century. The evidence is everywhere, even in the plots of Disney movies…
If you want to see this big jump firsthand, watch the trailer for Snow White (For Christ’s sake, the entire plot hinges on the line, ‘Mirror, mirror on the wall, whose the fairest one of all?’) followed by the trailer for Brave.
To the Women of the World…
You are doing a fantastic job of living out your potential in spite of this bullshit. Our culture has told you that you are ‘equal’ while slamming you from every direction with reason to believe that you are not.
But the world needs more from you now than ever. Centuries of patriarchal domination has left this world on the brink of destruction. At the very least we need a balance between the masculine and the feminine.
To my (and Layar’s) opinion, modern leadership has a lot of feminine elements. It is not so much about power, control, top-down thinking and ego, but much more about inclusiveness, intuition, the will to move ahead, looking for win-win (for both parties) rather than ‘I win, you lose’.
So my message to you is, KEEP GOING!!! Men don’t like to admit they need directions, let alone a surge in feminine leadership, so don’t look to us for to call for change. Be that change.
If we have the courage to accept that our current crises afford us the opportunity to do things differently, if we recognize the value of women’s leadership power and enlist women as partners in the redesign and reconstruction of broken systems, we can activate a global reset that accrues to the benefit of our shared global community.
I’m not a woman, so I feel somewhat strange handing out advice here. However I do feel these steps would be helpful in overcoming the social conditioning already discussed:
1) Become aware and share
The first step to any change is become aware of the need for it. Beyond reading this article, look out for evidence of this epidemic in TV, movies, and your real life interactions with both men and women. Go a step further and share this realization with those around you.
2) Drop unhealthy role models and adopt new ones
Stop taking in media that gives the spotlight to poor role models. Instead, spend that building up what should have always been yours: a healthy sense of self-worth. Watch TED talks from badass women, research those who are pioneers in their fields. Do anything and everything find new role models to emulate.
3) Stand up in situations where gender inequality is occurring
This one goes without saying. Be a beacon of the change you wish to see in the world. Don’t be afraid to be vocal with friends, family and strangers. Awareness starts with you.
4) Figure out what you can do to help the world
Think about what you can do for others as a strong woman. What issues could benefit from your feminine touch? The world needs you now more than ever.
To The Men of the World…
This issue goes both ways. We are taught from day one what it is to be masculine, and how women should be viewed and treated. Thus we must play an equal role in reversing that conditioning.
1) Take a walk in someone else’s high-heels (metaphorically!)
Read #2 of this experiment in empathy.
2) Be Conscious of Your Interactions with Women
Notice the subtleties of the way you talk and treat women, while also noticing how they interact with you. If you see something you don’t agree with, be vocal about it — whether it’s your action or that of a female friend. Call attention to the bullshit.
3) Become a Loud Advocate for Women
Other men are far more likely to take your words into consideration than a woman’s. Make feminism cool. One thing is for sure: this certainly won’t hurt your chances with the ladies.
Thank you for reading this article. This is not an easy topic to broach for men or women because it calls into question so many basic assumptions. You’re awesome just for considering it, let alone following the steps laid out above. Keep fighting the good fight 🙂 Much love.
Possibly my favorite scene from any movie, ever. Wish it was better quality but it gets the point across
“Members of ‘Throttle Queens’ put last touches to their pride and joy, club coupe which will compete against male-driven car at the San Fernando Drag Strip. From left are Wilma Brown, Pat Marian, Pat Field, the driver, and June Minnich. Car hit 97 miles per hour and won trophy in its division.”
Dated October 9, 1956
[Source: Cool Chicks From History]