Summary: Hockey blogger for Yahoo! Sports, Greg Wyshynski, offered a scathing critique of NBC's video ode to the women athletes of the 2012 London Games. He sees straight through the flimsy defense that the video montage was merely a celebration of the human form, and he exposes it for the vulgar artifact of sexual objectification it truly is. He writes: "The 2012 London Games have been labeled 'the women's Olympics' thanks to record-setting performances and watershed moments like the dawn of women's boxing as well as the participation of female athletes from Saudi Arabia. How did NBC decide to help celebrate this incredible time for women in sports? With meaningless objectification, of course! 'Bodies in Motion' was an online video produced by NBC in which women competing in various Olympic sports were featured in softcore, fetishist slow-motion highlights, while porn-tastic jazz music played on the soundtrack. It looked like something a horny teenager with a DVR would have spliced together for YouTube; instead, it was the official rights holder of the Olympics in the U.S. that produced it.” Wyshynski's admonishment is spot on, but he doesn't go far enough. The sexual objectification during the 2012 Olympics needs to be discussed, not because its execution is reminiscent of low budget porn, but because widespread sexual objectification is harmful to girls and women. As political scientist Caroline Heldman has argued, an environment of sexual objectification leads women to self-objectify, which is the "phenomenon of girls and women viewing themselves from an external vantage point, constantly monitoring their behaviors and bodies to maximize their appeal." The harm for girls and women is quite measurable. For instance, Heldman notes the psychological harm. Women who self-objectify are more prone to depression, have lower self-esteem, and lower personal efficacy. They are also more likely to feel body shame, including shame about their menstrual cycles, and they are more likely to exhibit symptoms of anorexia and bulimia. They have lower cognitive functioning on average as well, which is expressed by lower grade point averages. Finally, they are more likely to experience sexual dysfunction, and Heldman's own research links self objectification to lower political efficacy.
Image by Brian Snyder/Reuters
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