Saturday, February 13, 2010

Yer wot?

I recently saw someone on the 'tubes describe Danica Patrick as "The Anna Kournikova of [motor] racing." (To be fair to him, I don't think he really believes that, but rather threw that statement out as a point of discussion. Well, it worked.)

To which I say BOLLOCKS. And this is for the following reasons:

(Yes, it's another list. Deal.)

1. Danica Patrick has actually won something.
2. The rules of Ms Patrick's sport were changed to make it harder for her to win things.

Neither of these applies to Anna Kournikova -- the first because she's not actually that good, and the second because there's no need.

Now, notice what's just happened here.

I've had to defend a sportswoman for actually being _good at her sport_ rather than mere eye candy. And, rather alarmingly, in order to do so I've had to denounce another sportswoman as mere eye candy, which made me more than a little queasy.

Now, as much as we on the Cheap Seats are partial to a bit of eye candy, I doubt very much that most professional sportsmen have to put up with the same kind of comparisons, at least, not on a regular basis.

As far as we've come towards equality of the sexes, sportswomen are still judged more for their looks than their ability, and the amount of training and effort they put in is seen as largely irrelevant as long as they look good doing whatever it is they do.

And even beyond that, it doesn't matter if Danica Patrick was the greatest Indy car driver the world has ever seen -- she wouldn't get a look in at an F1 race because... she doesn't have a penis.

F1, much as I love it (and I do, oh how I do) is probably the most macho professional sport on the planet. There are no female F1 drivers. No woman has even been given a trial (at least a serious one -- Red Bull gave Danica Patrick a trial as a PR stunt). And such is the machismo surrounding the sport, it's unlikely that any woman will drive in an F1 race for quite some time.

And you know what, that's just daft. Like any other discrimination it's judging people on criteria other than how well they do the job. And that's just stupid. For all we know there's a female Lewis Hamilton out there, but she'll never get a chance to show the world what she can do.

For fuck's sake, people. What century is this, again? When sportswomen are paid less than men for the same work, judged on their looks rather than their ability and outright excluded from the most prestigious and lucrative sports out there, one could be forgiven for wondering.


Naly D said...

First off, purely as a motorsport fan, I have to disagree.
Patrick IS the race car version of Kournikova.
First off though, you are wrong - Kournikova, with 338 career singles matches, 209 of which were wins - is more successful than Danica Patrick - who had 81 Indy Racing League starts, with three 3rd place finishes and ONE race win.

"judged on their looks rather than their ability"
If this didn't happen, Patrick would never have been brought into the IRL. She came along at a time when ratings were dwindling in the IRL, as it struggled to compete with the more international audience for CART, and the domestic market being cornered by NASCAR.
To the series organisers, Patrick was a shining light. They brought her in in the hopes of getting women interested in the sport. The move was a success, with a 42% increase in ratings for her debut season (2005).

Patrick made herself this objectified. She had the media market all to herself and could have toddled along, racing and giving 'character' interviews like everybody else, but no. She decided to pose for FHM, and the SI swimsuit issue. Not to mention those godaddy ads.

I agree with the overall point - yes, too often beautiful women do get comment in the media and yes, good looking women seem to be mentioned more than others - but I counter with this: If two women commentated rugby, would we not hear more about the good looks of Dan Carter, Richie McCaw, Richard Kahui, Zac Guildford, Andy Ellis et all? And not all successful sportswomen get this treament. I've never once heard Valerie Vili, Irene van Dyk, Sarah Walker or Ulmer, Georgina Earl and Caroline Meyer or Briony Fisher given the same treatment. But come to think of that, the NZ media seem to be pretty good.

Naly D said...

Oh, and I feel it would be amiss to mention that I have, for many years, been disgusted by the free ride Patrick has gotten, while Sarah Fisher, who was [and is] a fucking awesome driver had to drive for all the shit teams and still managed to get records, while receiving no time in the spotlight.

Madam Backslash said...

Thank you very much for you comments, and thank you VERY much for the corrections. I mean that most sincerely.

I disagree that having to take your clothes off to get noticed is a "free ride", and feel for both Patrick and Kournikova that they've had to resort to such in order to differentiate themselves from others.

I always think it's a bit sad when sportswomen have to be cheesecake as well as talented at their sport in order to get the same kind of attention that men get just by being good at what they do.

You will have noticed that The Cheap Seats is somewhat about the eye candy -- yes, we fully cop to that. Howevar. I will also fully cop to being far more impressed by talent than looks, and know which is more important. And yeah, if I were a rugby commentator, I'd be tempted to comment on Dan Carter and Richie McCaw's looks, etc etc, but here's the thing -- I probably wouldn't, because it's unprofessional.

What I want to know is -- how many of the young men who go to see Anna Kournikova play tennis are there for the tennis, and how many are there for the tits?