When NBC created its "Bodies in Motion", a homage to the Olympic physique, it seems producers forgot one thing: sports. The entire clip is nothing more than butt and breast shots of female athletes pasted together. From the creepy slow motion to the strange background music, it's hard not to confuse it with a 1980s soft core porn flick.
During most of the clip, the athletes aren't even competing. They are blowing kisses to the crowd, waiting for a serve or slapping each other's backsides. There is even a five second scene of a flexing field hockey player's bottom as she takes a tumble during a match (Check out 1:36-1:41). It seems incredible that this disaster even made it off the cutting room floor.
While my boyfriend argued that male Olympians are also objectified, I don't think this objectification comes from the same place. Men have recently become more sexually depicted in media because of a change in society's attitude towards women and sexual freedom. However, showing a ripped Ryan Lochte in a tiny speedo makes him a heart throb and an excellent swimmer, idolized by millions. Since society somehow can't allow women to be both powerful and sexy, a female athlete has to choose whether she is an athlete or a bombshell.
A video like this is especially dangerous to female competitors who have chosen to perfect their athletic talents. It reduces their powerful bodies that have been trained to perform incredible feats into glorified sex toys for male viewers. These women have been practicing for their whole lives to compete in the Olympics, and it sickens me to think that this moment is being reduced to mere fodder for horny frat boys.
What's worse is that NBC has specifically chosen to show images of bodies are seen as the most appealing: thin, feminine, mostly white and wearing very little clothing. The only shot putter was an extraordinarily thin white woman. There are no weight lifters, fencers, or even swimmers in sight. London 2012 was the first year of women's boxing; so where are the lady boxers at?
Society already doesn't take women's sports seriously. Since when is women's hockey or women's basketball aired every night? Women sports teams have to fight for every dollar of support and have to continually prove that they are "real" athletes. It's a travesty that the official Olympic broadcaster in the United States chose to publish this garbage.
Kait Bolongaro loves to write about cultures and how people occupy them. She is a Masters student studying Journalism and Media Across Cultures in Denmark. She is a freelance journalist and photographer who is addicted to travelling and developing new stories. To follow her on her journeys, check out her website or follow her on twitter.