Much Ado About Women’s Asses in the Olympics

Joanna Schroeder explores the claim that female athletes are more likely to be objectified in photographs than male athletes. 

 

There is a pretty brilliant article about women’s asses all over Facebook right now by a fella named Nate Jones from the news site Metro.

More specifically, it’s about the plethora of photographs featuring female beach volleyball players’ asses that can be found in Getty Images. The issue Jones raises is not over the fact that the photos include the player’s awesomely fit bottoms, it’s that the photos are of their awesomely fit bottoms. No faces, or even feet. Just booty.

Then Jones takes a bunch of photos of male athletes and does something clever to show us how ridiculous this whole thing is: he crops them so they’re just booty (and sausage) shots. You should see it, it’s really funny.

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But Jones doesn’t really get to the heart of the inequity. I mean, taking a photo of Kobe’s back side and cropping it so it’s just his ass doesn’t explain whether there actually are more disembodied ass shots of women, or whether the outfits on the women’s beach volleyball players are making simple descriptive photos seem sexualized.

My first argument to our Editor-in-Chief, Noah Brand (who sent me the article) was to say, “the only reason there are so many ass shots is because the articles are talking about the new changes in uniform! The photos make sense, they aren’t objectifying, because the body is the subject of the article.” In case you haven’t noticed, my modus operandi in writing about gender is to take whatever the feminists are saying and make an argument against it, just to see if the theory holds water. Most of the time I agree, sometimes I do not (See Melissa Stetten and Louis CK).

So, in a deeply unscientific manner, I conducted a personal experiment: I did a photo search in Google for “women’s Olympic beach volleyball photos” and came upon some ass-y shots. I mean, some seriously ass-y shots. And almost none of the connected articles mentioned the change in uniform…

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Most ass-only shots featured a favorite composition where the one teammate is giving play numbers to her partner. They do this behind their butts, so it make sense that the photograph would be ass-y, right?

Here are 2 of approximately 10 nearly identical photos I found (featuring a whole “Around the World in 80 Asses” array of different beautiful booties):

AP/Petr David Josek

 

Photo: AP/Dave Martin

 

So being as male volleyball players give the same signals to their partners, you’d think there would be some just like this, featuring men’s be-hinds, right? They just wouldn’t seem as salacious because there isn’t as much flesh showing with men in their volleyball uniforms of shorts and sleeveless tee shirts.

And yes, there are! Oh wait, I should say “Yes there IS!” because I could only find one butt-and-hands photo when I searched “Men’s Olympic beach volleyball photos”. Only one disembodied male volleyball ass photo! And it’s not even that exciting, because there isn’t a fleshy pair of cheeks hanging out. Just this Canadian dude’s hands. Nice as the hands are, even I prefer the top photos.

 

AP Photo/Dave Martin

But how about in men’s diving? Watching men’s water sports the last few days, I’ve been struck by how much flesh I’ve seen.

AP Photo/ Michael Sohn

That photo above leaves very little to the imagination, but they’re still not disembodied. That is to say, the fact that they’re nearly nude is secondary to the fact that they’re athletes doing something totally insanely amazing. And you can see their faces. If you followed the sport, you could probably identify who these two young men are.

I continued my search for disembodied male asses in major news stories… My next Google search entry: “Men’s Olympic Diving Butts”.

Here’s all I got:

AP Photo/ Sergey Ponomarev

 

That’s pretty graphic!  But the guy STILL has an identity! What does it take to get a little equality in the photographic objectification department?

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After way too much time looking a photos of well-toned athletes I’m left with the realization that it’s true that in mainstream media we are way more likely to turn female athletes into disembodied flesh for our pleasure than we are with men’s. As much as women (and others) are falling over themselves over Ryan Lochte, (so much so that Jez’s Erin Gloria Ryan wrote an entire article about how despite his hotness, Lochte is apparently a fratty douchebag) the dude still gets to keep his face!

What do you guys think? Why the big difference in how women’s beach volleyball players are portrayed as opposed to men’s beach volleyball? Is it the fact that we see so much more flesh on the ladies and we’re simply drawn to it, as the human animals that we are (both men and women)? Does the half-naked ass make for a better photo than the entirely-clothed ass, artistically?

How about the swimmers and divers? How come they’re essentially never shown without faces?

Or are people simply making too much of a little cheek?

 

For more Olympics, check out Shawn Maxam’s Men of Color Challenging Olympic Stereotypes

 

 

Lead photo: Dave Martin/AP

 

About Joanna Schroeder

Joanna Schroeder is a feminist writer and editor with a special focus in issues facing raising boys and gender in the media. Her work has appeared on Redbook, Yahoo!, xoJane, MariaShriver.com, TIME.com, and more. She and her husband are outdoor sports enthusiasts raising very active sons. She is currently co-editing a book of essays for boys and young men with author and advocate Jeff Perera. Follow her shenanigans on Twitter.

Comments

  1. When you take the AUDIENCE into account the pictures make total sense. Hardly any women are interested in close-up butt shots, but men are. On the contrary hardly any men are interested in shots of six-pack abs and bulging biceps, but women are.

    I don’t believe any gender is over/under sexualized, I believe they BOTH are just in different ways…tailored to their expected audience.

  2. i did not read the other comments but wanted to say

    that is s because women are objectified in parts chest butt legs etc
    men are objectified period.
    face hair eyes smile muscles height legs fitness butt and package
    there will always be full shots of men doesn’t mean we r any less eye candy than the women

    • Voice Of Reason says:

      That’s a good point.

      Men are objectified not just for their bodies, but for their height, skills and everything you can imagine.

      Additionally, they are objectified for status and money.

      Women are objectified for a couple of little things, and they start stamping their feet and making a big deal out of it.

  3. Mark Neil says:

    Here are some more disembodied male asses from Volleyball

    http://summergames.ap.org/boston/content/london-olympics-beach-volleyball-men-40
    http://uk.eurosport.yahoo.com/02082012/5/photo/02082012124107.html
    http://ca.sports.yahoo.com/photos/olympics-decoding-beach-volleyball-s-hand-signals-slideshow/avp-tampa-bay-open-photo-1343754195.html
    http://sports.yahoo.com/olympics/beijing/gallery/im:urn:newsml:sports.yahoo,lego:19780928:top,photo,4ce735c9-914f-38b5-90fb-cb5e41cb2dc3-l:1

    And I have to wonder, how many disembodied female divers did you find? Comparing aples to oranges isn’t a fair comparison. There is a reason for the close ups in volleyball (the hand signals), there is no similar reason for such shots in diving, and I suspect you will not find any of ether sex.

    “I continued my search for disembodied male asses in major news stories… ”

    How many stories on men’s volleyball did you find in major news stories in comparison to the women’s? If you’re looking to an inequality in articles showing disembodied images, you should first make sure there isn’t an inequality in coverage in the first place.

    “Does the half-naked ass make for a better photo than the entirely-clothed ass, artistically?”

    Add skin tight vs baggy to the cloth that remains, and your answer is most certainly yes.

    Seriously, Which of these shots is more asthetically pleasing to look at? The men’s or the woman’s?

    “How about the swimmers and divers? How come they’re essentially never shown without faces?”

    Because swimmers don’t give hand signals behind their backs that can benefit from a close up. I’m curious if there are any other sports that do these body part shots, or is it limited to volleyball only? If it’s limited to volleyball, then one needs to ask, why? Can it still be considered objectifying women if it isn’t done consistently through the sports, and has an actual reason behind it?

  4. wellokaythen says:

    Another comparative approach could be to look at how sports photo editing handles the behind-the-back volleyball signals and how it handles the fingers-in-the-crotch signals of catchers in baseball. If the butt shots are all about the signals, then you’d expect somewhat equal treatment of all hand signals.

  5. Not buying it says:

    The fact is that even women look at other women in a way that most feminist would consider to be objectifying, there is a difference in how all of us (men & women) look at women & men period.

    Feminists can try & deny differences between males & females so much so forgetting that reallity & nature is not necessarily politically correct.
    it’s a whole lot more complicated then just patriarchy, Joanna

    • Joanna Schroeder says:

      Hey, did I say “patriarchy”?

      Don’t think I did. Thanks for trying, though.

      • Not buying it says:

        Joanna, you made my point then there is no issue here about objectifying women since men & women compromise what we call media & consumers of the pictures of these athletes.

        • Joanna Schroeder says:

          Huh?

          Yes, everyone consumes the photos. There was not a single moment in anything I’ve written here that I blamed this situation on men.

          I feel like you need to read my article again, please.

  6. alternately, you could get your mind out of the gutter and enjoy the games. I’d actually been more interested in how the shapes vary from sport to sport — those freakazoid 7′ giant-torso-small-head rubber bodies in swimming, the musclebound sprinters, the lanky long-jumpers, the rowers who looked like they did when Eakins painted them a hundred years ago.

    I shudder to think what kind of physical condition most of the objectifiers are in.

    • I guess certain body types favour certain sports. Weightlifters are generally huugee, runners are sleaker, swimmers have huge upper body.

  7. So you’re saing that it’s ok to check out the guys’ pecs.abs. and ‘package’ as long as they show his face? And that it’s evil , creepy, male objectification if I look at a picture of a womans butt without looking at what, the back of her head? The hyprocrasy and double standard is mind boggeling!

    • Joanna Schroeder says:

      Please read the article again and see if you still think that is my point.

      And I want all of you to note that a few comments have been deleted because they violated policy.

      • Mark Neil says:

        While I don’t entirely agree with Bobbt’s take on your article, you do note the Jez article objectifying that one athlete without any judgement on them for doing so. Now I realize the crux of this article is in HOW women where allegedly objectified (clipping body parts), it does come off as taking a position of objectifying women is bad/disrespectful, but oh, did your check out the body on that guy cou cou.

  8. Here is a more scientific study of what seems a facet of the same phenomenon: http://scienceblog.com/55779/how-our-brains-see-men-as-people-and-women-as-body-parts/

    While the article demonstrates that both men AND women are more likely to perceive women as body parts than men, it doesn’t really address whether it’s an ingrained characteristic of our psychology or whether people are somehow taught or reinforced over the years to do this.

  9. I made the point recently that a lot of the female track and field athletes wear almost as little as the Beach Volleyball players, yet seem to be objectified less and treated with more respect. Says a lot about the perception of the sport as well.

    • Wow. This is the dumbest post yet. Who is disrespecting these women? The only the I find disrespectful is people creating this stupid controversy, that’s what really takes away from the feats these women perform. I turned on Women’s Beach Volleyball for the bikinis, then stayed for the Volleyball. The bikinis drew me, the play kept me tuned in. I think the bikini is the best thing going for this sport, it draws a major sports demographic that wouldn’t normally tune in, I don’t understand how that’s a bad thing. And to the idiot who asked if volleyball was a sport, try it, it’s definitely a sport.

      • Oh. My daughter thought the bikinis were stupid, and I agreed.

        Most of the athletes at this Olympics are women, and my guess is a larger percentage of the audience than ever — also women. In general we’re not showing up for bikinis.

        • Sand in the pants is annoying, that’s the most common reason I see them using bikinis so it doesn’t get caught under clothing.

        • There are more female athletes than male ones for the US. There are still substantially more male athletes in total at the 2012 games.

          Regarding beach volleyball, swimwear is the uniform. Having lived on a beach in which there were tournaments (pro & amateur) every weekend from May to September, it’s all bikinis and board shorts during the summer. I’m actually a little surprised the men aren’t shirtless. I suppose the balmy London summer may result in someone slicing off a finger if it were to brush against a nipple. If you saw action on any of the particularly blustery days, especially from warm-weather nations, you’ll notice the female volleyballers wore both sleeves and long pants while competing.

      • Looks like you are. You tuned in just to leer. How respectful.

        • Tuned in to leer? I tuned in to take a look. I had no idea looking at a woman was disrespectful. I also mentioned I stayed and cheered them on for their outstanding athleticism. I can’t stand people who think they’re smarter than they are.

        • wellokaythen says:

          This is probably a silly question, but _so what_ if someone did leer at their butts via the TV set? How does that hurt anyone anywhere? Does the leering man’s eyes send out radiation through the TV set and into that woman’s body on the other side of the world?

      • Sarah Dalton says:

        I think the problem is that women’s sports shouldn’t need the bikinis to draw interest. According to you, if these women preferred to not wear bikinis, then people wouldn’t respect their accomplishments. It’s totally cool if they want to wear bikinis, and also cool if they don’t (and it’s okay for people to find them attractive), it just shouldn’t have any bearing on the respect they get as athletes.

        • Wait, what? How did you come to the conclusion that people wouldn’t respect their accomplishments if they didn’t wear bikinis? Please don’t put words in my mouth to bolster you’re own argument. The only thing I said was the bikinis caught my eye, then I said their level of play kept me tuned in, that’s all I said, anything else you extrapolate from that are assumptions and conjecture that have nothing to do with anything I said or thought. Now, I said I tuned in to take a look at the bikinis, but I may have stumbled across it anyway, because I watched the games where the women wore the full body suits as well. My point is, if wearing bikinis grows the sport, who cares why?

    • Peter von Maidenberg says:

      BV is the “sexy” sport in part because it’s been promoted that way. NBC is depending on that sex appeal to draw the eyeballs the advertisers signed on for. Track and (my favorite) diving display women’s bodies beautifully too, but in more limited ways that are not as obvious, so they’re not as promotable.

  10. Women swimmers are a lot more covered that women beach volleyballers. The latter should wear basketball shorts, thus stopping the frat boy perving and silly posts like the one above. Keep the focus on the game and the competition, and not on the sexual charms of the players. Case closed.

  11. I don’t have anything extra to add to the discussion, just wanted to say thanks for sharing. I enjoyed this post.

  12. wellokaythen says:

    I just thought of what sounds like a silly question, but hear me out: why are the close-ups of butts considered less identifiable or more impersonal than full-body photos? Another way to put it: is an ass close-up really denying someone’s identity? Doesn’t everyone have a unique derriere?

    Perhaps butts are less distinguishing than faces. But, when it comes to Olympic athletes, the people in the same sport start to all look alike to me, especially when they are all hairless and wearing the same swimsuit and same swimcap. I’d be hard pressed to tell the difference among all the water polo players, no matter how much full-body photo I saw.

    I’m betting the real obsessive ass-shot fans could identify the players by glutes and fingers alone – “So-and-so has a wonky index finger and a mole on her right cheek, so that pic is obviously of her. Based on the skin tone, I’m guessing the photo was taken after a few weeks after her bad sunburn of July 15th in the qualifying trials.”

    As an aside, I tend to see super-super-fit buns not so much as asses or butts, but as muscles. I don’t necessarily find fat-free rear ends sex objects, which is why I don’t see what the big deal is with volleyball bikinis. I find it much more erotic or prurient to see a little bit of fat. Otherwise, it’s really just a bump above the hamstring. Not all butt revealings are equally objectifying. Not all nudity is sexual. To each his own, I guess.

    I suspect if women were on the whole less obsessed over how fat their butts look, less fretting about the size of their cabooses, this whole thing would blow over. If I was a member of a group so fraught over its asses and I had a small tight one, I’d show it to the world as well. I’d feel like I transcended petty neuroses, or feel like some sense of accomplishment.

    • Joanna Schroeder says:

      First, even I get squirmy looking at those asses. Those asses are sexy as f**k. Saing they’re just muscle is like me saying a penis is just a urethra. I mean, come on now. Let’s be honest.

      As far as identifying bodies, yes, their name, country or hair color or—I dont know—faces, might help identify them.

      And if you’re studying asses so closely that you know who is who by the curve of the cheek, then I feel like there’s a whole other thing happening with you 😉

      Though the fingernails could be a giveaway. There are some awesome fingernails happening in some of them… Hmm maybe that’s why BV players like the nail art so much! A way for Poole to identify the ass shots!

      • wellokaythen says:

        So THAT’s where the urethra is….

        No, it’s true about the butt-as-muscle, at least for me, at least sometimes. A really fit woman with very little body fat and tiny ass, which describes some but not all of the women beach volleyball players, does not really do it for me.

        When it comes to inspiring erotic thoughts, a butt can actually be too small and too tight, no matter how much skin is showing. Probably too much information, but if a woman’s ass disappears when she bends at the waist, then it’s not really an ass, in my book. With some of those volleyball players, you only see a butt when they’re standing straight up.

        I see a big difference between the butts in the first two photos and the third one (with the light blue watch and pink tape on her left thigh – see, I notice other stuff!). The third one has a little oomph that I just don’t see in the others. I don’t know, maybe I need to see a crease?

        Don’t get me wrong, all the asses I’ve seen at the Olympics have been spectacular. Just because something is not immediately overwhelmingly sexy doesn’t mean that it’s ugly.

        No doubt envy plays a role here. I wish I had an ass anywhere near that fit, so I get a little hate-y….

        • Joanna Schroeder says:

          Haha. Well.

          I agree the ass with the tape on it is the primo ass in this selection.

          And now I need ass implants. Thanks a lot wellokaythen.

    • Have you heard the phrase ‘the exception that proves the rule’? (It’s also worth noting that that picture was apparently taken by the athletes themselves, not by news photographers.)

      • … just one small step for mankind

      • wellokaythen says:

        I hate to be “that guy” here, but “the exception that proves the rule” does not mean what most people think that it means. It uses the word “prove” in a more archaic sense, which is “to test” or “to question,” and NOT the way that we use “prove” today to mean “to confirm.” It’s a very old English expression that originally meant the opposite of the way that it’s used today.

        Exceptions do not actually confirm theories. They challenge them. That’s why the phrase never made sense to me until I found out its origins. It’s actually nonsensical when used in its present sense.

    • Showing somewhat explicit views of women’s bodies in photos, video, advertisements and movies in a sexual manner has always been the way. It will always be this way whether we feel it is right or wrong. In fact I see more and more as I get older the types of nudity and near nudity I wouldn’t have seen when I was 15 yrs on TV in the middle of the day, in a groupon advertisement, victoria secret commercial, night time TV show overview etc. Somehow the men behind these cameras feel its appropriate to take these photos and the producers and editors approve them to get the ratings. No one cares about men’s rears, women are just not as interested in male nudity or body parts as men are with women’s flesh. Men are generally physical creatures and women’s bodies will be posted everywhere and every chance they get.

  13. “Dad….what are you looking at!?!!!” “Oh…uh…uh…I’m just…I just go to this site for the articles.”

  14. RedSonja says:

    Hmm, no. I don’t think so. I have yet to see a man, including my own hubs, who doesn’t size up women by the parts of her sum, and the individual value of each part.

    Moderator’s note: This comment has been edited to remove a policy-violating sentence.

  15. Random_Stranger says:

    “Why the big difference in how women’s beach volleyball players are portrayed as opposed to men’s beach volleyball?”

    Maybe its driven by the audience. Perhaps women need a face and a persona to connect to a body which elevates her sexual appreciation of the image. Perhaps men feel a degree of negativity about their desires and separating the person from the body helps neutralize that dissonance so he can enjoy his sexual appreciation of the image guilt free.

  16. Alberich says:

    To answer the question, let me ask:
    Why would people watch female sport competitions, when there are plenty of male competitions to watch?
    In most Olympic sports the male competition is significantly better than the female one and viewers usually prefer to watch the better athletes, when they have the choice. The male gaze partially compensates the lack of interest of female sports. Obviously it is often very disrespectful to the female athletes, but what are you going to do about it.

  17. reg schroeder says:

    I see little reason for the skimpy suits to play volleyball. its all about what sells and what men are buying.
    They are buying sex and business is good.
    A bent over good looking female is an absolutely erotic pose. A bent over male not so much (for the heterosexual.)
    We are nothing but mammals.

    • The players themselves like the skimpy suits because sand doesn’t get trapped in them, which causes chaffing. You know, all this uproar over the fact they wear bikinis with people assuming it’s to get men to watch when really it’s a choice by the players themselves. They can choose to wear other attire but they don’t, it’s actually more comfortable to wear a bikini for them.

  18. Quadruple A says:

    Women’s booty’s are often very nice. So I think that there should be lots of pictures of them just because why not. And then everyone who likes them can celebrate how awesome they are and nobody should feel bad about it. Don’t say I’m supposed to care about their sportsmanship and all that stuff. Don’t say it distract from the more important stuff. I haven’t even watched the Olympics because i don’t care much for sports but booty’s are nice so I guess the Olympics has a little something for everyone.

  19. Though it doesn’t involve asses, what about this photo of swimmers Ryan Lochte and Missy Franklin, featured on Yahoo today. Whose body is being objectified here?

    http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/olympics-fourth-place-medal/ryan-lochte-missy-franklin-most-adorable-photo-ever-184318414–oly.html

    And though this is nothing to do with the Olympics, it seems to me that in movies made over the last 15-20 years, men’s asses are shown far more often than women’s.

  20. Why not ask a more broad question, like, Why are womens’ bathing suits almost always more revealing in the rear end than mens? This goes for everyday life, not just for competitors in the Olympics.
    Why is the standard womans swimsuit shaped like a speedo on the bottom? Men don’t wear speedos to the beach so why is it that nearly all women do? Even those who would probably choose something that covers them more like shorts? And it hasn’t always been this way. I watched an episode of Boardwalk Empire where a cop cited a woman on the beach for revealing too much and she was wearing long pants and a top with her bare arms and midriff showing. At what point did the pendulum shift so towards the opposite end, where women are now expected to reveal more skin?

    As for the Olympic / media issue regarding female butts, I say it’s a purely economic thing. Men are the biggest target demographic for most products and television ads support that. A nearly bare female butt is going to get more clicks, more attention than a male, so there is going to be a whole source of motivators to keep that as it is. This is also shown by the fact that female athletes get attention first and foremost for their looks with little regard for their abilities. How many men know who Leryn Franco is? She’s the gorgeous pole vaulter from…. uh…I think Peru maybe….whatever. Is she good? I have no idea. Same with Danica Patrick, she’s got the distinction of being one of the only females in her sport, but the majority of the attention paid to her is because she is very attractive.

    • No, men are NOT the biggest “target demographic” for most products. Any advertising research will tell you that most commercials are aimed at women.
      Sports, however, ARE mostly a “male viewership” , though I think the Olympics is much more evenly watched than your normal sports, though I think men still make up most Olympic viewers, so there might be something to your comment after all.

  21. Copyleft says:

    Similar complaints are made in convention-costume communities, videogamer profile articles, comments about spokesmodels and cheerleaders, etc. etc.

    Sports are interesting; games are interersting; well-made costumes are interesting. But for men, attractive female bodies automatically override those interests, instantly achieving maximum priority. The interest in other aspects of the scene may kick in later, after the ‘hot babe emergency’ is sufficiently dealt with. This is not an injustice or an aberration; it’s a fact of homo sapien brain function.

  22. I have read about this dismemberment of the female body occurring in other cultures as well. In many of the erotic folk tales of Japan, women’s bodies are broken into their component parts (a man admiring a woman’s thighs) yet at the same time women only admire men as complete beings (as argued by the scholar Hitomi Tonomura). She seemed to think it was cultural (I don’t recall a biological argument being made); women were reducible to the essential parts that defined them as women–their long hair and their undergarments.

  23. Speaking of disembodied, or at least being dehumanized:

    http://malesubmissionart.com/post/91850568/an-unimportant-uninteresting-man-is-hidden-behind
    Warning: Not necessarily safe for work link.
    While I know not everyone here is into BDSM – and even those that are probably would follow the “standard script of male dom/female submission – one should pay attention to how dehumanized (wearing masks, gimp suits, totally hidden as in the pic I linked to) the male subjects often are.

    In some ways -sexually at least -submissive /switch men aren’t always just “objectified” or turned into parts -they are actively erased.

  24. Now I have fine female booty’s stuck in my head and hairy skinny males too. Most photos I see of male athletes try to promote male muscle, male power, sweat, and usually need to show most of the body. The most focused shots are usually of a face in a silly pose or a cropped shot of an arm tensed up, or the Abs.

    Are women drawn to certain male features like many men are drawn to female features? Do many women find it hard to avoid looking? A nice booty, cleavage, tummy, eyes, hair, smile (smiles n eyes really blow me away) can be quite captivating, and hard to resist looking. I also find faces to be quite captivating as well but I do look at certain parts of a woman whilst still realizing she is a full woman. I don’t mind disembodied photos as long as there is a balance where full body pictures remain. We have no trouble with headshots, yet focus only on the “body” and some folk seem to lose their shit over it. If anything we need to teach people to be able to still admire body parts but realize they’re just a part of someone, not their entire being. So I am curious, is it men who find it hard to not stare or are women also guilty of this? Do women stare at the entire body and men focus on certain parts? If so, is this biological instinct?

    The photographers are usually male at these events, maybe they are consciously or unconsciously taking pics of what they think most people want to see, assuming bootys are a prime target. Or it could simply be the editors who are selecting the photos, as the photographers most likely shoot up to a few thousand frames per day.

  25. You may have to look a bit harder, but the added effort does pay off !!

    http://london2012.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/07/31/showing-a-little-skin/?nl=sports&emc=edit_oe_20120801

    • Joanna Schroeder says:

      While enjoyable, I did not see a disembodied photo of a hot guy on there. Did I miss it? I mean, ass shot, crotch-shot, even chest?

      • Very true. You are forced to disembody it yourself, not very user friendly.

        But to your point: beach volleyball does seem to occupy a special category of female bootylicious with no equivalent. It is powerful enough to stand on its own merits.

  26. I always wondered why the sun in the sky is especially pleasing to the eye when it isn’t giving out that much light. Some things just look better in certain shapes and contexts.

  27. I think the only reason why people have fixated more on the asses of female Olympians is because male nudity is about a thousand times more prevalent, especially in public, non-sexual situations.

    People concentrate on specific female body parts because the rarity of seeing them makes it more of an “event” when they’re shown, so that naturally narrows people’s focus. Pretty much the only taboo male body part is the penis, and that obviously is not going to be shown during the Olympics.

  28. Peter Houlihan says:

    Just wondering, how serious were the publications connected with the asses? If it was the local red-banner I’m not terrible surprised, but if it was the Irish Times or the Huff Post or something I’d be a bit taken aback.

    • Joanna Schroeder says:

      Dude, Peter, Google it. You’ll crack up. It’s not like Maxim or anything. Those photos were in some credible galleries, though I’m not sure which right now. And they’re AP photos, they’re not someone’s random cell shot.

      • Peter Houlihan says:

        Weird. I have to say I’m insulted: Male asses are equally beautiful and deserving of being plastered all over the internet 😉

  29. Is it really a surprise, or a problem? says:

    Or are the publishers just giving people what they want to see? I don’t care who’s attached to the ass in that photo. Her country, whether she won, what she thinks about literally anything. It’s just a nice ass. It brightened my day for half a second or so. Except to write this, I’d never think of it again. I can’t really picture it now.

    Maybe that’s just me. Or maybe enough men feel the same way that publishers fall all over themselves putting it out there? If enough women felt the same, why aren’t they putting out the same kinds of photos for them? Maybe there’s a reason most people can rattle off a list of names: Playboy, Penthouse, Hustler, etc. But coming from the other direction, just Playgirl?

    Even the bit about Lochte’s article… I’m not going to see a photo of a hot athlete and want to read an article about her. I’m never going to run into any of those women. Apparently women do want articles about men they’ll never run into. Which is ok, for them. What I enjoy is ok for me.

    Who cares if most men and most women like different things?

  30. Tom Matlack says:

    I have no idea. But as far as water sports go I would say that male swimmers are showing off a lot more than women. But that is all about speed. The techno suits have been banned so now they are partial. But if you watch water polo (which I did) you will see guys in old fashioned speedos with head gear so you really can’t tell one from another since their faces are obscured. Just huge amazing male specimens running around with barely any clothes on. The perfect response to women’s beach volleyball.

    • Joanna Schroeder says:

      Tom, I think Austin’s really on to something in his comment above. And check out the link I put in my response to him about the Jez commenters asking to be “the meat in that man-sandwich” etc in a sexy photo of two swimmers in their racing shorties.

      And yes, if you ever go to Pepperdine on a hot Fall day, you will see a bevy of women lined up on the hill above the pool pretending to sunbathe as the Water Polo team practices.

      • Tom Matlack says:

        Agree with Austin’s comment, have been to Pepperdine to watch water polo practice (with my son but noticed the fans) and on Jezebel…LOL. 50k views of two naked guys cuddling? Do women fantasize about watching men do it? Or do it with them? Amazing…

        • Joanna Schroeder says:

          I think the comments are more about doing it with them.

          There is something about that cuddling photo. I don’t know what it is… It was clever of them to put it next to the sea otters for sure, but there’s something so open about the two guys in that moment. The sweetness, the affection, the lack of machismo or posturing. They’re two guys who love what they do, look great, and are confident enough to have a little moment of affection in public.

          • It’s called giving them what they want. Not too different from guys that would probably enjoy the think about doing the same with two women (yeah it’s possible for a guy to just want to cuddle with two women and not want to enjoy teh hottt lezbo secks).

        • Joanna Schroeder says:

          PS Tom, let’s get rich making “men cuddling” porn to market for women.

          • Noah Brand says:

            Tried that. It’s harder than it looks, but that could be because I lack Tom’s business acumen. Or the business acumen god gave a barnacle, for that matter.

        • Tom, yes…yes they do. Not all women, but a significant portion. Many straight women watch gay porn for this reason–and many lesbian women also watch gay porn. Naked men are beautiful to look at. And humans in general are all fascinated with sex, regardless of gender or orientation.

          That said, I agree that men’s water polo is my new favorite Olympic event 🙂

        • Speaking of water polo. Have you noticed how often those big, beautiful broads pull each others’ bathing costume askew? I understand that they’re looking for a small tactical advantage (like basketball players hooking one another on the hip or shoulder before they make a cut to get open) but it *almost* feels like they’re trying to get more people to watch by using a slight cat-fight angle. Fuck, I think I just proved someone’s point…

  31. What do you guys think? Why the big difference in how women’s beach volleyball players are portrayed as opposed to men’s beach volleyball?

    It goes back to what men and women are traditionally valued for. Men valued for what they do, women for how they look.

    Out of curiosity I took you “Men’s Olympic beach volleyball photos” search challenge and noticed something. Yes there are almost no dismembered body pics of male volleyball players. How many action shots were there of male volleyball players? I did the same with “women’s Olympic beach volleyball photos” and sure enough while there were some action shots there were still a lot more booty shots and poses.

    Which you got it when you said, “That is to say, the fact that they’re nearly nude is secondary to the fact that they’re athletes doing something totally insanely amazing. And you can see their faces.”

    • Joanna Schroeder says:

      There’s two things happening in the beach v-ball shots of both sexes when you put them side-by-side.

      1. There can be the same action shots, but because of the bikini bottoms (when they’re not wearing pants) the ones of the women are way hotter. Even to me, as a het woman. They’re just more eye-grabbing and appealing.

      2. There are simply *less* photos of the male olympic v-ball team. I think those women are just so damn photographable. Artists have noticed the human body for a long time, taken note of the way it is one of the most breathtaking things one can look at… It’s nothing new. There are lots of photos of the male swimmers shirtless, lots of photos of the male divers in their speedos, and lots of photos of the female beach volleyball players. We love bodies, we’re human.

      But the ones that are JUST body parts take the photos away from being *about sports* and into the realm of being *about bodies*.

      And that’s the distinction. I mean, you gotta imagine photos of Phelps and Lochte and their relay team members where we see their backs, trunks and asses (maybe holding goggles so you knew why you were looking?) but nothing else. That’d be equivalent and it simply doesn’t exist in mainstream photo banks.

      The question is this: is that because, as Austin said, men tend to like “parts” and women tend to like the whole?

      Or is it something to do with somewhere, deep inside, society (including women) believes that the female athletes are sex or admiration objects before they are athletes?

      • The question is this: is that because, as Austin said, men tend to like “parts” and women tend to like the whole?

        Or is it something to do with somewhere, deep inside, society (including women) believes that the female athletes are sex or admiration objects before they are athletes?
        Possibly a bit of both and something more that we don’t understand yet.

        Men are valued for how useful they are in terms of doing things. That takes the whole body into account and may relate to Austin’s comment about men being viewed as whole. That’s why we don’t just see a close of Kobe Bryant’s ass when he dunks but rather we get a full view of him running in, jumping, gliding to the rim, and jamming it. He is valued for his userfulness in his case athletic prowess.

        Those female volleyball players on the other hand are being fit into the idea that women are valued in terms of how they look. Sure the whole female body is up for scrutiny at times but if you take the pics you mention here, the gay test images I mentioned a few days ago, the staring at single parts a la the “Why are guys so obsessed with my butt?” post from a few weeks ago, and even something like the “Tits or Get The Fuck Out” treatment women get while online you get reduction to body parts. The parts that are “worth viewing”.

        I’m thinking that this “men are for utility, women are for viewing” mentality has simply made its way into the realm of sports and that is why we end up with such a discrepancy between “Part shots” and “Action shots” of men and women.

        (So yes I would say there is some “female athletes are sex/admiration objects before they are athletes. Hell remember O’Brien’s joke a few days ago about Holley Mangold? I’m sure it was mentioned on those posts of it here that swapping Holley out for a male weightlifter and carrying 4 women against their will wouldn’t have the same effect. I think you have hit on a part of why that is.)

        1. There can be the same action shots, but because of the bikini bottoms (when they’re not wearing pants) the ones of the women are way hotter. Even to me, as a het woman. They’re just more eye-grabbing and appealing.
        Exactly. Women are for viewing, men are for utility. Even in action shots, action shots of men are geared towards that game winning spike, awesome block, making an impossible pass, whatever the moment of the shot was, while action shots of women are geared towards showing off the woman in question. And also this may relate to why you won’t be seeing male athletes in eye catching outfits and uniforms (I think if it wasn’t for mobility in the water you wouldn’t see as much skin on male swimmers as we do now).

  32. So I read another article about this. It’s apparently how our (men’s and women’s) brains work to process one another’s bodies. Men’s bodies are processed as a whole, while women’s bodies are processed as parts. This is done by both sexes, not just by men. Women do it to. Makes sense that our media, which isn’t exactly honorable, and has been known to go to the lowest common denominator, would pander to that.

    Here’s the study: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120725150215.htm

    I think a more interesting question isn’t, “What’s wrong with us that we think this way?” but instead, “What’s *right* about us that we’ve adapted to thinking this way?” There has to be a purpose, let’s honestly ask after it and give ourselves credit as humans with good intentions.

    • Joanna Schroeder says:

      Wow, best comment ever.

      (And I mean that completely absent of snark.)

    • @ Austin, who says it’s an adaptation? For all we know people have been brainwashed into thinking this way.

      • Nope, that’s exactly the opposite. The media isn’t working hard enough to actually brainwash us, they’re just giving us the fastest thing that will draw our attention to jack up page views.

        Gender isn’t brainwashing, and we deserve a lot more credit than aimless claims that we “might have been brainwashed” into thinking a certain way.

        Women are different than men, and we look at one another differently, figuratively and literally. That’s not brainwashing, that’s human nature. It’s beautiful 🙂

        • Not so fast. It’s not necessarily brainwashing, but to assume that our behavior has evolved completely independently from societal cues of proper behavior is silly. I responded more over at your most recent post on the subject, but I’ll give the short hand here.

          The differences between male and female brains have been grossly overestimated. Sure, there are structural and hormonal differences, but it’s just not true that men and women think that differently. Claiming anything is an evolutionary adaptation, especially when you consider how vastly our societies have changed since pumping out babies was an evolutionary advantage, almost always ends up in the “pseudoscience” column.

          Gender may not be brainwashing, but it certainly is a big ol’ pile of arbitrary rules. Anyone who watches Mad Men can see that. Things we took for granted as “ingrained” even 30 years ago have proven to be just plain bunk.

          Read “Delusions of Gender” for an actual scientific take on this.

          • Didn’t science show men and women have different brain structures?

            “Psychology professor Richard Haier of the University of California, Irvine led the research along with colleagues from the University of New Mexico. Their findings show that in general, men have nearly 6.5 times the amount of gray matter related to general intelligence compared with women, whereas women have nearly 10 times the amount of white matter related to intelligence compared to men.

            “These findings suggest that human evolution has created two different types of brains designed for equally intelligent behavior,” said Haier, adding that, “by pinpointing these gender-based intelligence areas, the study has the potential to aid research on dementia and other cognitive-impairment diseases in the brain.””

            ht tp://www.livescience.com/3808-men-women-differently.html

            So is the grey n white matter simply a case of biology or is it the same at birth but socialization grows one or the other more like a body builder focusing on his legs vs his arms?

    • *sigh*

      You (and Joanna below), do realise that the ways in which our brains are structured and the ways in which they react to things are not hardwired at birth, right? The majority of our brains responses are learned.

      This means that the differences in perception that this study found are just as likely to be a product of socialisation as of biology. The fact that they have onbserved a difference in how the biological brain reacts does not prove that the response is biologically ‘hardwired’.

      I think it’s more likely that this is just a biological manifestation of a cultural bias towards seeing women as sexy and men as not sexy.

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