Beauty at the Olympics
Carrie Dunn // 23 August 2008
I seem to be burning my bridges with lots of my sources of work over the course of the Olympics, but this made me so angry I can’t help but post about it.
The Times’s Chief Sports Photographer Marc Aspland has put together this photo gallery for his colleague Simon Barnes, “all my red-blooded colleagues who are into their third week away from home and all the lads in my 5-a-side football team back home.”
The gallery focuses on Elena Isinbaeva, the Russian pole vaulter who is Olympic champion and the world record holder. Well, I say it focuses on Isinbaeva – mostly it focuses on her buttocks, although it does also feature her stomach. A photo of her face is noticeable by its absence.
I’m not going to go into the theory of fetishisation and the gaze and dehumanisation, because it’s patently obvious to anyone with half a brain that reducing this magnificent athlete to a couple of body parts is offensive and asinine. The comments below the piece from readers do, in the main, bear this out.
And as some have said, there would never be a similar gallery produced of, say, Alexander Despatie or Rafael Nadal. But then, I can’t imagine any of the straight women or gay men I know who work in sports journalism even thinking about doing this – not just because it’s disgusting, but because the profession is a bastion of male heterosexual privilege. Anyone on the inside who deviates from the standardised beliefs and opinions and objects to nonsense like this or attempts to redress the balance will be pretty firmly and promptly squashed.