On the Bench: Congratulations, Sports Illustrated, you missed the point

f you needed or wanted a reason to loathe Sports Illustrated’s infamous annual Swimsuit Issue, they provided one. In a misguided effort to support the #MeToo movement, the magazine hosted a photoshoot where models posed nude with words painted on their bodies in place of their typical Swimsuit Issue which will debut Feb. 13.

According to USA Today, this was all a part of the magazine’s “In Her Own Words” project, where they encouraged women to define themselves with positive words. Thus, women wrote words like “truth,” “nurturer” and “human” on their skin. Of course, this was done with a twist: making sexy poses for the shoot. Cue shock and awe.

If the thought of the photoshoot doesn’t fill you with joy, congratulations, you’re on the right track. If you’re feeling confused, let me clue you into why this was, for lack of a better term, a very stupid idea. First of all, the fact that, as a society, we feel the need to keep reminding people that women are “strong” and “human” is pretty pathetic. The entire premise of labeling women like this is similar to Keith Urban’s “Female,” which to a lesser extent, also missed the point of the #MeToo movement. But, I digress.  

The main reason why you should be disappointed in this issue of Sports Illustrated, is because they attempted to support a movement that raises awareness about sexual harassment and sexual assault by sexually objectifying women. Because heaven knows what  we need to solve the issue of sexual violence against women is the word “natural” written across the bare bottom of a sexually posed woman.

I’m not the only one who’s noticed. Kaya Jones, a singer who has experienced sexual abuse and is a part of the movement, tweeted on Feb. 7 that she was disgusted by the magazine’s contradictory attempt at empowerment. Alexandra Schwartz, a staff writer for The New Yorker, called the photos that have been released so far “human Mad Libs” and said that the dark marker written on the skin of only white women — at least from what we’ve seen so far — seems to speak more to how society continues to silence women, particularly women of color, rather than allowing them to have a voice.

Most importantly, there’s nothing about the campaign or the shoot that talks about the issue of sexual assault and harassment. Instead, it avoids a topic that society has been avoiding forever, while pretending to listen to what thousands of women are trying to say. Pacification without action — another popular trend.

So, congratulations, Sports Illustrated, for being a part of the very problem that movement is trying to solve.

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