Jesus ‘n’ Mo ‘n’ skin

July 28, 2021 • 9:30 am

The new Jesus and Mo strip, called “glee”, came with this note:

Hats off to the Norwegian women’s handball team.

The article, from BBC Sport, reports that, in the European beach handball competition, the Norwegian women refused to wear the required bikini bottoms in a match against Spain, opting for shorts instead (see photo below, with Norwegians in red and Spanish in black). The Norwegian team was fined €1500 for disobeying the rules.

Men, of course, can wear shorts; here’s the difference in the traditional outfits for men vs. women. Is there any reason to mandate this difference save to allow male viewers to ogle female bodies?

Likewise, Germany’s female gymnasts wore unitards instead of the traditional leotards. Here’s a photo showing the traditional vs. unitard outfits in the German gymnastics Olympic trials:

(From yahoo! sport): Elisabeth Seitz, Sarah Voss and Pauline Schafer at the German gymnastics Olympics trials. (Photo by Tom Weller/picture alliance via Getty Images)

Male gymnasts, of course, can dress more modestly, like this:

AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko

Now a few readers have said that, for them, a plus of watching women’s beach competitions or gymnastics is the chance to see skin. But ask the women: I bet they generally don’t like it, and some certainly don’t like it, preferring to have their talents rather than pulchritude on display. And there’s no excuse for mandating skimpy outfits for women. Uniforms should be regulated, of course, but designed not to expose bodies, but for comfort and to facilitate performance.

But I digress. Here’s Mo doubly upset by the “shameless display of female flesh” in the Olympics. And, of course, he’s hypocritical in his cognitive dissonance.

48 thoughts on “Jesus ‘n’ Mo ‘n’ skin

  1. I think women athletes oughta be able to wear any damn thing that makes them comfortable while competing. (But, FWIW — and I ain’t sayin’ it’s worth anything, or is any of my beeswax — I find the shorts worn by the the Norwegian women’s beach handball team just as fetching.)

    1. I got no problem with a sport authority organization setting uniform rules. But a rational basis for them would be nice. Something tells me the women athletes weren’t consulted much on these…and obviously the men’s vs. women’s differing rules on shorts is entirely unnecessary.

      Agree with you on the Norwegian shorts. They’re not particularly less form-revealing. I bet they didn’t go with full-on boxers because they figured those would get them disqualified.

  2. I whole-heartedly agree with Prof. Coyne. I am a woman, and I have always felt uncomfortable that female athletes are forced to show more skin than male ones.

  3. Could go back to the original rules:

    All athletes competed naked

    Wrestlers and pankration (a sort of mixed martial art which combined boxing and wrestling) competitors fought covered in oil

    Corporal punishment awaited those guilty of a false start on the track

    There were only two rules in the pankration – no biting and no gouging

    Boxers were urged to avoid attacking the on-display male genitals

    There were no points, no time limits and no weight classifications in the boxing

    Athletes in the combat sports had to indicate their surrender by raising their index fingers – at times they died before they could do this

    Boxers who could not be separated could opt for klimax, a system whereby one fighter was granted a free hit and then vice-versa – a toss of a coin decided who went first

      1. As I Chelsea resident I can assure you the costumes *here* would blow your minds!

  4. It’s not easy finding athletic wear as a regular woman either. I recently wanted some baggy shorts to work out in and it took quite a bit of looking to find any. Men shorts are easy to find. Women’s shorts are hard to find as they are all skin tight and above even mid thigh. Same with if you are looking for tops – mostly tight and sleeveless where men have t-shirts. Women already have body image issues. They are not going to work out and be healthy if they have to wear revealing clothes, especially if they aren’t in perfect shape.

  5. Apparently, some female athletes express a preference for the “skimpy” uniforms based on comfort, functionality, etc. E.g., in gymnastics, in beach volleyball. So it might be problematic to call their own choice of attire sexist. What is more obviously sexist is outright forbidding the modest style option that the males enjoy..

    1. A range of styles available to athletes but set based on safety and ‘no performance advantage’ in mind is probably what we should be striving for. For example, I don’t see any reason why women beach handball players can’t wear regular boxer shorts OR bikini bottoms, whatever they prefer. But there may be a good safety or ‘judging form’ reason for gymnastics organizations to say “no baggy pants on the vault competition” (for men AND women).

      I believe in swimming there’s lots of rules about fabric selection and such, since you don’t want the sport to come down to which country has the money and resources needed to invent the most frictionless or water-repellent fabric. Could be wrong about that though.

        1. I do stare at the more skimpily dressed Olympians. Typically with the thought “holy crap, look at how in shape they are. Look at the muscle definition!” And I think that whether it’s Simone Biles doing a vault, or Tom Daily just before a dive.

          Does that staring count as ‘ogling,’ or appreciation? There’s envy for sure. Definitely envy.

    1. Men can look at women in a sexual manner, as long as they can do it with the same level of subtlety as women do when they look at men that way. Meaning, don’t leer at them!

    2. Ogling, be it of female or male bodies, has alwauys been an important part of sports. IIRC an athlete with a missing fonger or 2 was disqualified for that in ancient Greece, because his body wasn’t perfect.
      So yes, I do ogle athletes, wirh relish.
      Note, for our baser instincts Internet provides a whole pornographic industry. No athletes needed for that.

  6. Modern fashion and style is riddled with contradictions. Athletic wear is no different. Double standards are everywhere.

    Generally, women’s clothing seems designed to be less functional (i.e. more “stylish”) and more revealing, whether by showing more skin or hugging the figure more. On the contrary, men’s clothing is often quite bland, less revealing, and more “functional”.

    Also, it seems like there are far more choices for women’s clothing than men, at least based on the amount of real estate given to women’s fashion in stores and shopping malls compared to men.

    Some women love this state of affairs, as they enjoy more stylish clothing and love to take advantage of the variety. Further, many women enjoy leveraging their sexual power with revealing clothing. However, other women despise this environment, and would love to just adopt a “uniform” of three or four plain, baggy garments like so many men do, and be done with thinking about clothes all of the time!

    And on the flip side, some men might like to go around the gym wearing yoga pants, a move that would be considered very odd (at least in North America were I live). Around here, it’s baggy shorts for you bud!

    For swimming costumes, it used to the be the men that walked around the beach demanding that women show as little skin as possible, and enforcing draconian rules about how much skin above the knee could be revealed. So it became a symbol of female empowerment for women to wear a bikini. But today, bikinis are being seen by some as exploitive and evidence of the patriarchy!

    For men and women competing in the same sport, I see no reason for large differences in uniform style. Male and female soccer players wear very similar style uniforms, so why should any other sport be different? Sports organizations have a right to set uniform standards, but those standards should be similar for men and women.

    1. The difference in build quality is quite stark. Men wear clothing that feels like a suit of armor compared to the flimsy and thin material that women are obliged to wear. I bet theirs costs more too. It’s like a covert Sharia law.

      And then there is the button thing. On shirts, the buttons are on opposite panels so that women have to button their shirts with their left hand, while men can use their right hand. The reasons are ancient and quirky, and is a classic example of a palimpsest.

      1. “It’s like a covert Sharia law.”

        Except its not. I suspect that there are legitimate economic forces that drive the cost differences in male/female garments.

        I consider myself a feminist and do think that, even in the West, women suffer from systemic sexism. But in the fashion arena, the influence of the patriarchy on women’s fashion is weaker than I originally would have thought. Women have a tremendous amount of agency in this area, both on the demand and supply side, as they are the major consumers and also are well represented in the industry, even at the executive level. So many of the fashion dictates that seem oppressive to women are also driven by women themselves, as in certain contexts these “oppressive” fashion trends can also give women a tremendous amount of sexual power over men.

        1. So many of the fashion dictates that seem oppressive to women are also driven by women themselves …

          Or, as a great musical philosopher (albeit now-deluded anti-masker) once put it: “The girls walk by dressed up for each other. And the boys do the boogie-woogie on the corner of the street.”

    2. Talking about soccer, did you see these tight and short type of ‘hotpants’ that soccer players wore in the ’70s an early ’80s?

  7. Female beach volleyball players have several options regarding what they wear, but their uniforms must be coordinated. April Ross and Alix Klineman of the US beach volleyball team said this week they prefer to wear bikinis because they are the least restrictive regarding play and best at shedding sand. They helped to design their bikinis so they don’t ride up, provide support, etc. I note also they played in a heavy rain, a wet bikini would have the least weight.

    I agree that other sports like gymnastics show way too much skin and should be uniform for men and and women (see what I did there?).

  8. Men generally look better with clothes on, women look better showing some skin. A man naked or in skimpy clothing looks vulnerable while a scantily clad woman looks sexy which gives her a kind of power.

    The female body has been designed to be looked at and most women enjoy showing theirs off if it’s in good shape. This is why there’s such a thing as women’s lingerie football. Men running around a football field in their underwear would just look pathetic.

    1. “A man naked or in skimpy clothing looks vulnerable while a scantily clad woman looks sexy which gives her a kind of power.”

      Ancient Olympians competed in the nude. Modern male MMA fighters often compete in what looks like a glorified speedo. The admittedly odd sport of bodybuilding shows the men practically naked.

      These men were (are) the opposite of vulnerable. In fact, it seems the more masculine the men, the more they drift towards “scantily clad”.

      It seems there is a huge cultural component involved in this, and context is huge.

          1. No, but homosexuality was considered the ‘better’ kind of sexuality. Don’t ask me how that happened, something to do with the idealisation of the male body?

          2. See? You can talk till your blue in the face on the steps to the Acropolis, and hardly anyone will call you a dialogist. But one little act of pederasty, and all the moderns say you’re gay. 🙂

        1. I hope you aren’t serious.

          But you ignored the other points. Again, how do you explain the attire of modern MMA fighters? Are they all homosexual as well? And do they look “vulnerable” when demonstrating one of the most fundamental aspects of masculinity…namely prowess in combat?

  9. I think women in gymnastics are required to be pretty and dress in scanty leotards. The scoring in gymnastics is always somewhat subjective, so it does make a different. I’ve never liked that. I say let them wear whatever they want. My official Olympic crush was the Norway Women’s Curling Team. Not exactly provocative dress there!

  10. I speak as a heterosexual male who likes the image of the female form as much as any other heterosexual male.

    I do not take these beach sports seriously precisely because of rules like the one breached by the Norwegian beach handball team. If a sport is a compelling sport to spectate, why do they need to mandate skimpy outfits for the women? I’ll watch it whatever they are wearing unless it is a boring sport.

  11. The comments here by the male readers are quite telling. Especially since PCC(E) specifically invited female readers to weigh in. There’s the comment that says that women’s bodies were designed to be looked at. The comments saying that women look better scantily clad than men. The comments about fashion giving women power. The comment suggesting that female apparel options are actually superior. And people saying that bikini bottoms are more comfortable than spandex shorts.

    I’m a bit flabbergasted. Now- if we are talking straight up appreciation of the human form at its fittest- all the athletes should be scantily clad. I would consider myself an equal opportunity googler. But clearly the rules are not written that way.

    1. “I’m a bit flabbergasted.”

      As in offended? Why? I wrote the comment about fashion giving women power. It absolutely does in some contexts – have you ever been out to a club or bar? Ever see a woman in a knockout dress at a formal party? There are countless examples. It can also be the case that women’s fashion can have negative effects in other contexts. Both of these things can be true at the same time.

      To deny that women (and men for that matter) don’t sometimes use fashion to wield sexual power is, frankly, absurd, and denies agency to women. And it is that denial of agency that is truly sexist.

      1. Yes, I missed that one. Personally, I’d be a bit worried with all that equipment hanging out there on the loose. That said, if we’re bringing back nude sports I might not complain.

  12. Weren’t the original Olympics done with nude competitors? Probably no women involved then, but still, showcasing the best toned human bodies in the world probably should involve nudity.

    1. Bumsacks – sack at the front, anus available at the rear. It is, of course, all about sexual availability.Oh, reproduction is more important than it;s 1% or so hit rate over sexual activity. Really?

  13. Men, of course, can wear shorts;

    Surely the obvious answer would be for the Norwegian sport (sorry, I’ve alreday forgotten which variant of ball-hitting it is) to redefine the costumes so .. oh, the womens costume carries a flaccid, small, penis in the opposing teams colours, while the men’s team play in open-arse costumes, to illustrate their sexual availability.
    What? It’s about the ball-hitting, not the clothes as indicators of sexual availability? C’mon, that can’t be true. If it’s not about humiliating the losers (which must be true – I got hit repeatedly with a stick to beat that lesson into my arse), then it must be about making the victors (or losers, comme ci, comme ca) sexually available to … someone. The winners (losers)? The audience? The judges?
    Really, I don’t think I understood sport properly. Should I have been beaten in a different spot? We know more about brain function now, so surely there is a study about where on the head you should beat people to leave them with an interest in sports.

  14. Don’t forget that ageism is part of all this. On my weekly social bike rides, spandex leaving nothing to the imagination rules in the under-40s women, no matter body type or BMI. What do women playing these same sports in Senior Olympic wear? Is a tight bikini bottom on a fit 75-year-old as fetching?

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