Sunday, 21 March 2010

Sherone Simpson 100m & Women's Athletics

Sherone Simpson of Jamaica won the above race in a record time for that year of 10.89. But what made this race significant for me was that when I heard it first on the radio, I decided for fun to time it from the starter's gun to the commentator's finish with my own stopwatch. I've never done this before or since. And the time I recorded was, you guessed it, 10.89! Only one millisecond out, I thought, when the race-time came back as 10.88. And then it was rounded up!


  1. I find it very sexual myself. Maybe I am wired hotter than you are. I find it inappropriate example to view women in. I am noticing this in the olympics now. One could run as fast in other apparel.

  2. I've never noticed anything different. It's true perhaps that we are desensitized to it, and yes, perhaps there's a subliminal sexuality which we are not consciously aware of and might even derive pleasure from without knowing it.

    I don't know if this is necessarily a bad thing... in being de-sensitized as a society, perhaps we do lose something, but, I think it's a case of context and I do feel that the responsibility lies with the viewer to read the context. (For example, I thought Serena's outfit at the Australian Open on one of the days broke those boundaries precisely because its purpose was to titillate, but it did the precise opposite - it was bad taste.) I do love women's tennis for example, but I support players who play beautiful tennis, not because they themselves are beautiful.

    There are many movies especially in European cinema which are really "beauty in motion" homages by the director as he films the lead actress through the story. I think these films can be really beautiful, very sensual, but again not necessarily sexual. Ok, perhaps they often are. Liv Tyler in Stealing Beauty springs to mind. I also remember a film called "La Belle Noiseuse" about a painter (played by the director?) who is painting a nude model played by Emmanuelle Beart. The whole film was about the making of the painting. It was obviously very erotic, but because the intention wasn't sexual, the shortened version of the film I saw was rated PG. It did surprise me, I thought it'd be an 18. But it makes a point I agree with... the duty of the viewer, however hard it might be, is not to view the naked beauty of the stunning Emmanuelle Beart as something sexual, to objectify it in that way, despite the fact that arguably the whole film did just that. Having said that, we know from histories of painters how hard they found it to keep their lustful hands off their models, some even claiming it to be necessary for their work. This is an abuse of the art, and often also of the power dynamic between painter and model, except in the very few cases when the relationship was a long-term one.

    In summary, the duty is not to be tempted, and the easiest way to avoid being tempted is to avoid temptation. The rules of religion and society often lay down stipulations and laws taking away responsibility from the one who is tempted. The problem with such laws is that they are fixed lines without context. One way of avoiding temptation is simply to take responsibility, recognize the context, that the intention is not there to tempt, and so to simply not see it as temptation. Is that not possible? Sometimes admittedly, pop stars want precisely to tempt or break the boundaries like Serena, and when this overtly overrides the artistic content, yes, I do find that inappropriate. And I think the media has a duty to shun such behaviour... and they don't.

  3. Oh dear Jamintoo, I love your very wise words.

    Thank you.

    Take care.

  4. This conversation took place back in 2010. I wrongly mentioned Serena in my last comment, it was the use of "flesh panels" by Venus to give the impression she was flashing that I thought was in bad taste. She only wore that outfit once in the tournament (and from memory she lost the match so it wasn't performance enhancing). Athletes should wear whatever they feel comfortable in which also optimizes their performance, and that involves mutual respect between athlete and viewer that everything, even aesthetics, is not for personal attention but for the sake of the sport.