Women, Cycling, Photochops.

This is my new all-time favorite Photochop.

Of course, that’s a play on Peter Sagan’s recent move on a podium girl, which was, depending on your viewpoint, either a harmless prank, or a manifestation of a rape culture.

Personally, I have a hard time with the whole issue.  I’m sure he thought he was being funny.  I don’t see how that excuses it.  On the other hand, I’m defending the honor of a “podium girl”–not that the individual podium girl deserves poor treatment (I am in no way advocating against the individuals) but the whole concept of podium girls seems demeaning.  I understand it’s tradition–I get that fully.  But what if you won the race and got a kiss from the “podium dude.”  Would that be cool?  I suspect some would have serious issues with such a thing.

My views on sexism, gender bias, and the whole myriad of related issues are colored by the fact that I have a 5 year old daughter–and thus I now look at the world and question how she will live, and be perceived, in it.  I’m troubled by this whole matter.  Peter Sagan is a pro rider–this is his profession.  In any other professional setting, pinching the ass of a co-worker would be actionable sexual harassment that would result in some form of discipline or sanction.  On the other hand, there aren’t a lot of professional settings that utilize objectified women as a reward for a good performance.  Chicken, meet egg.  Egg, chicken.

That doesn’t seem entirely fair either–it sounds like a “she’s asking for it” type excuse, which (hopefully obviously) is completely unacceptable.

But in a situation that objectifies women, how are we surprised by an outcome that objectifies women?  With a completely sexist position (podium girl), how are we outraged by completely sexist behavior?  Is Sagan’s conduct excusable?  Nah.  But why isn’t anyone questioning the inherent sexism of the entire practice of podium girls?  If it was tradition to pinch the tush of the podium girls, would that make it a socially acceptable practice?

The only good thing to come out of this?  I learned of George Hincapie’s meeting a podium girl at the ’03 Tour, and subsequently marrying her.  That’s a pretty cool ‘how I met your mother’ story.

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