As a Humourless Feminist ™ of many years’ standing, I have grown adept at recognising The Things That Are Sent To Try Us. Jimmy Carr, Heat magazine, Procter & Gamble, Femail, David Cameron … I have seen them all and always sought to offer a suitably Humourless Feminist response. Now, however, I find myself confronted with the sexism-fest that is Olympic women’s beach volleyball, but I will not rise to the occasion. Bikinis? Dancing girls? Benny Hill? I know Humourless Feminist-baiting when I see it, and I’m not going to play along.
I know what I’m meant to do: get all cross and shouty about the lazy, mocking, seventies-style objectification that’s been used to present a sport that even our dear Prime Minister has already reduced to “women! Not wearing much! Phwoar! etc. etc.”. I’m meant to get all cross, and this will therefore illustrate that feminists just can’t take a joke, aren’t ever up for a laugh, don’t ever see the funny side to objectification, are incapable even of having a nostalgic giggle about scantily-clad women gyrating to the strains of comedy rape-chase music blah blah blah. And then it will be noted that it’s probably because feminists look shit in bikinis anyhow (and okay, yes, I do; but at least I’m cultivating Pixie Lott underarms to distract attention from the “classic” mummy tummy). Anyhow, this is all irrelevant, because I’m not going to get all cross. I pick my Humourless Feminist battles and this isn’t one of them. All the same, I still have some standards and would like to make some recommendations for improvement.
I am disappointed, for instance, by the evident lack of wanking booths at Horse Guards. If one is going to indulge in a full-on retrosexist jamboree within the context of our modern, liberated culture, I believe it’s only right to provide the complete facilities. Otherwise it all looks a bit amateurish, a bit like we haven’t fully prepared (hell, it’s even worse than the empty seats fiasco). I realise it’s now a bit late to sort this out, but at the very least we could supply some Kleenex to all the full-blooded males making their semi-ironic pilgrimages (do we still have time to make the tissue people official sponsors?). If there’s one thing I hate, it’s prudish nudge-nudge sexism – why can’t we all just tell it like it is?* Because it would be inappropriate in front of serious sportswomen and even scantily-clad dancers? Well, yes, but who is this all for? It’s for a particular type of heterosexual man, that’s who. The type of man who might complain to the Telegraph that “it is very difficult to say anything about beach volleyball without sounding extremely sexist” (making a lovely, if unclear, distinction between “sounding” and “being”). Surely it’s not right that such men should feel discomfort. And besides, if the Olympics are about showing the world the best of what London has to offer, then it’s hardly a time for half-measures. We shouldn’t be letting petty concerns such as “women being people” get in our way. We’ve already made our mark in the sand, several times, and each time to the sound of Benny’s theme.
That is my Humourless Feminist view. Because obviously I don’t find any of this offensive. At all. It is, after all, just a sport, albeit one where you get to see many more arses than usual.
* For similar reasons, I am infuriated that I have never once heard a conversation about Fifty Shades of Grey which included the line “the bit I liked wanking over was…”. I mean, has this book actually given any woman an orgasm or hasn’t it? While it’s not something I’d like to dwell on, I’d like to know.