Patriarchy on Ice: now with fewer exposed crotch shots

Sunday, February 12th, 2006 · 13 Comments »

This is the first Winter Olympics since the skating poobahs dropped the rule that women had to wear skirts. That’s right, it used to be in the rulebook that female figure skaters had to compete in skirts — no trousers, no unitards. Hence the startling displays of exposed crotchitude that have been a feature of every Olympics.

Now the dress code has been relaxed, and women can wear skirts, trousers, or unitards. This strikes me as a good thing, since the wide-open display of the female crotch is apparently an integral aspect of the sport. Alas, a similar choice of attire is not available for the guys, who are required to wear trousers. Unitards and skirts are not acceptable for skaters of the masculine persuasion. Personally I don’t see the problem with an occasional dudely bulge, but I’m obviously not in tune with the Glorified Patriarchy that is figure skating.

Of all the sports (ahem) in the Olympics, none is more slavishly devoted to the cult of traditional gender roles than figure skating. In what other sport are the women athletes officially referred to as “ladies”? As a matter of fact, “ladies” figure skating was created because the first woman ice skater to compete beat all the men except one, thus winning a silver medal. Oops! Can’t have that! So a special “ladies” figure skating division was created.

And how wild is it that the pairs skating events require that the pair be comprised of a “lady” and a man? Why can’t two dudes skate together? Or two “ladies”? No, obviously the goal here is to create some kind of ice-borne fantasy of traditional heterosexuality — albeit one where the woman is held up in the air with her legs spread-eagle for about 30% of the time. It’s an interesting sport.

Don’t get me wrong: I genuinely like figure skating. I would like it more without the Siegfried & Roy style costumes, but it’s still fun to watch. It is breathtaking to see humans glide across the ice at thrilling speed, spinning and twisting and leaping. And there is undeniable beauty in a well-executed pas de deux. It’s like ballet to the power of 10.

Or it can be. Too often, it’s more like the Solid Gold dancers to the power of 10. Only less tasteful. And with cheesier costumes. And more crotch shots. The dancers — I mean skaters — defend the increasing pornification of their sport as “artistic self-expression.” And who can blame them? In our society that’s what artistic self-expression looks like: stripper outfits and simulated sex.

So, while quite a few women are opting for the new unitards and trousers — which I think look fabulously sleek — many are still eager to display their latest wax job to the adoring fans. (And lest you imagine that the traditional tights are opaque: they’re not. See Katarina Witt and Tonya Harding for details.)

Me, I just like to see people doing amazingly acrobatic things on the ice, without worrying about wedgies and whether the girl has had a Brazilian. But you know, I’m just a reclusive leftist feminist freak.

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13 Responses to “Patriarchy on Ice: now with fewer exposed crotch shots”

  1. Burrow says:

    Of all the sports (ahem) in the Olympics Don’t say that around a group of Canadians!!

    I didn’t know and am glad to hear that the women can now wear pants. The outfits scare me enough that I can’t watch figure skating.

  2. The Countess says:

    I haven’t seen figure skating in years, but I agree that it’s like watching the Solid Gold dancers. I like watching gymnastics. I don’t see how gymnasts can contort their bodies like that. It always amazes me.

  3. will says:

    What is the point of getting a brazilian if the whole world cant see it?

    I love how America got all lathered up by a tneth of a second shot of Janet Jackson’s nipple, and yet skaters, cheerleaders show far more.

    Let’s not even discuss the World Latin Dancing Competition or the luge competition. I would think that a camel toe was very aerodynamic.

  4. Violet Socks says:

    Oh Trish, now gymnastics I can’t watch. It looks so painful. And talk about wedgies!

    I love the winter sports, all of them. I think it’s because I’m thrilled by speed. Everything is fast! (Except cross-country skiing, which I don’t watch.)

    Will, the only thing luge is missing are codpieces for the men, a la Siegfried and Roy.

  5. Burrow says:

    I prefer the summer olympics: water polo (which I play), soccer… sports ever (do they do rugby, b/c I play that too ad love to watch)

  6. Violet Socks says:

    Burrow, isn’t water polo awfully hard on the horses?

  7. will says:

    Violet Socks:

    Exercise caution. Water polo goalies are awfully tough.

  8. Violet Socks says:

    Burrow is tough but kind. I’m sure she’ll forgive my sad little attempt at a joke.

    Now if you’re referring to yourself — ha! As the immortal Faye Dunaway said in Mommie Dearest, “Don’t fuck with me, fellas! This ain’t my first time around the rodeo.”

    I live for the day when I can say that to someone in real life.

  9. Charlie says:

    Thank you for this. Now I have a legitimate excuse for my preexisting and irrational dislike of the Olympics. Or at least, I would if I were willing to be intellectually dishonest when people ask me why I’m so negative about them.

  10. Burrow says:

    Exercise caution. Water polo goalies are awfully tough.

    Yes we are! I have to tread water with a 10 pound brick over my head. (I also sometimes play holeguard, which is the most violent position, and I love it.

    One of the teams in our divison has sweatshirts that say on the back “You should see our horses swim.” hehehe

  11. will says:

    I swam in college. I will happily concede toughness to water polo players any day of the week.

  12. Burrow says:

    OK, I take it back, I love curling, so the winter olympics are ok.

  13. Feminist Law Professors » Blog Archive » Patriarchy on Ice? says:

    [...] At Reclusive Leftist, Dr. Violet Socks has an amusing post about Olympic figure skating here, below is an excerpt: [...]