A certain Twitter feed was knee-deep in raunch three weeks ago. Over a period of several days, the feed posted a series of photos, all of naked or nearly naked women, along with leering messages.
“This nude photo of @SamanthaHoopes is the Friday afternoon treat you were waiting for,” read one. The text was followed by the happy-face-with-hearts-for-eyes emoji.
Another tweet was speechless as well as breathless, communicated only by emojis: water splashing, hearts-for-eyes, water splashing, hearts-for-eyes. Pictured was a bare woman lying in shallow, rocky water.
“.@NinaAgdal getting vajazzled is the hottest thing you’ll see this week,” read another, along with the fire emoji. If you’re not familiar with the word “vajazzled,” all you need to know is that Ms. Agdal was photographed propped up on a beach, facing the camera, legs parted; her genitalia were obscured by a skimpy application of sand and rhinestones.
Go take a shower now if you’d like, but there won’t be enough soap and hot water to wash away the creepiness of the campaign.
Why am I bringing this puerility to the sports pages of The Press Democrat? Because the source was the Twitter account of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. Yes, America’s most legendary sports magazine is still in the soft-porn business, and by now has abandoned all pretense of selling swimsuits. Many of the women in the Twitter posts were wearing no clothes at all.
The SI swimsuit issue has always struck me as an anachronism. Certainly, I’m not the first to ask what in the world writhing beauty queens have to do with athletics.
Its defenders would tell me to lighten up. Why drag politics into a little harmless ogling? They might even point out that the swimsuit issue helped change portrayals of the female figure, employing women who looked more like healthy California beach babes than stick figures, or that Sports Illustrated was one of the first publications to recognize the models by printing their names.
Still, it has always made me a little queasy. For 52 weeks a year, SI does a pretty good job of bringing attention to female athletes.
The swimsuit issue serves as a sad counterpoint, reminding us that many of the magazine’s subscribers still see women primarily as a collection of tanned and oiled body parts. The name of the publication gives the old creepers cover.
I know, I probably sound like a church lady who has unwittingly wandered into an “adult toy” store, face flushing as I clutch my purse with two hands.
It’s not like that. If you’re an adult, and if the content is created without exploitation or abuse (big ifs in the industry we’re talking about), I fully support your right to click through the World Wide Web’s endless expanse of pornography. Really, knock yourself out. Whatever your boat — man, woman, big, petite, old, prime of life, professional, amateur, nurses, lumberjacks, sadists — the Internet can float it.
I just don’t get why Sports Illustrated, the magazine of Dan Jenkins and Frank Deford, Steve Rushin and S.L. Price, “The Curious Case of Sidd Finch” and “Totally Juiced: The Confessions of a Former MVP,” has to be in the game.