Friday, June 08, 2007

How did I miss this?

Twisty at I Blame the Patriarchy writes about the pornification of high school pole vaulter, Allison Stokke, that all started when a sports blog, With Leather, posted a picture of her and entitled a post "Pole Vaulting is Sexy, Barely Legal" in early May. (Actually where and when it started seems to be under debate; there were other blogs and websites posting pictures of her during her high school career. But it definitely exploded with this sports blogger's post, though.)

The Washington Post and many other news outlets have covered the story which includes the extent of the internet fanaticism around this high school athlete. Above-linked sports blogger tries to keep saying that he wouldn't be interested in her at all if she wasn't so darn good at pole vaulting. I don't recall Lebron James, when he was an outstanding high school athlete, being sexualized at all--let alone at the level of intensity and perversity that Allison Stokke has faced.

Despite the problems with the Post story, which Twisty adeptly points out, it seems that it has gotten some people to bow their heads in shame. The Unofficial Allison Stokke Fan Page is now defunct and Facebook has removed the page falsely created under Stokke's name.

But some of the other meatheads out there are taking credit for Stokke's fame and asking, basically, for thanks because they have made her so popular. They predict calendars, and commercials and, at the very least, the fact that she will marry well because they have been gracious enough to post every possible picture of her they can find. And they say Stokke's steps to publicize the controversy--so as to let people know how she feels violated and unsafe--have only made them search harder for postable pics.

The most perverse part of this whole story: the local photographer who took most of the pics at Stokke's meets originally threatened With Leather because he had posted the pictures in violation of copyright. When he realized he could make money off them, however, the complaints were dropped. Now the Orange County Register which is Stokke's local paper and where most of the photos originate, is putting her pictures on mugs, mouse pads, Christmas ornaments, and the like and selling them through the company Pictopia!

You can write to the paper at and tell them exactly what you think of their exploitation of a teenage athlete.

See also posts by Ann Bartow and Ann Friedman about the irony of how Stokke's father, a criminal defense attorney, makes his cases.

1 comment:

Diane said...

I wondered why you hadn't written about this. Her local paper's exploitation of her is something I didn't know about, however. I'm dashing a letter off to the editor--thanks.