Sunday, November 06, 2005

Now I've seen everything (?)

And if you take a look at the new "ladies of curling calendar" you too may just see everything! A former curling skip who is also a photopgrapher has created a calendar in which female curlers (including her) pose nude or nearly nude in an attempt to generate more interest in the sport and make some money for curling teams.
Oi vey--where do I even start with this?
How about with the prophetic statement by former world champion Colleen Jones: "I think the women are going to have to curl naked in order to get people out there,” she said at the time. “I'm not kidding."
Apparently she wasn't. Jones also mentioned that curling needs their own Anna Kournikova. So curling wants someone who is really beautiful, hangs out with (and eventually marries) A-list celebs, engages in cattiness with teammates, and has a mediocre career from which she basically retires at a very young age. I don't think any sport really needs their own Anna. Women's tennis was gaining in popularity before Anna and continues to get very good TV ratings (not that I truly believe such standards are a true or fair measure of relative popularity).
Again on the issue of female sexuality in sports I find myself conflicted. As a believer in the power of individual agency to disrupt hegemony, I try not to disparage the women who made the choice to pose for the calendar. But as a good postmodernist, I also realize that the concept of choice is problematic and that "agency" can never exist outside of ideology.
As a sort of sidestepping of the above issues, I want to focus on the reasons behind the calendar: to promote the sport and raise money. This makes the concept of the calendar a little more creepy. This is not a celebration of the human body type of collection a la Annie Leibovitz. The connotations of the calendar format prevent such a reading especially when considered alongside the photographer's intent to show that curling can be sexy.
And herein lies the problem. Why does curling have to be sexy to draw attention? I don't see any plans by male curlers to attract attention to the sport (which I would argue is equally obscure) by posing naked. Yes, I know that in some sports (beach volleyball for example) the athletes' sexuality is a draw but they aren't necessarily actively encouraging this. In the case of the curling calendar, the intent to sexualize the athletes in the pursuit of more attention is the primary motivation.
I have more to say on this calendar including the strange construction of European versus North American women and their respective levels of sexuality. But I shall save it for another time.


Anonymous said...

Geez. All I can say, ken, is that it's a sad day for women's sports when Canadian curlers start pimping themselves out as sex symbols.

ken said...

they're not all canadian. A lot of them are European which will be addressed in my next post about this. Apparently there is this construction that European women are more free with their bodies (by both europeans and canadians) and so they dominate the calendar. weird