ONTD Political

Russia's female athletes strip down (Compilation post)

5:38 am - 02/09/2014
The first official medal event hasn’t even happened yet, but the Winter Olympics have already been pounded with a fair share of controversy. From journalists revealing the ridiculous conditions of their hotel accommodations, to Sochi officials solving the city's "stray dog probem" by killing the innocent animals, to still-incomplete infrastructure as the games are kicking off, Sochi’s public image is tainted (just like the water), to say the least.

Now, perhaps in an attempt to push those problems out of everyone’s minds, Team Russia has released photos of their female athletes. And they've swapped out their official uniforms (with all that lame fabric and coverage) for racy lingerie.

As the old saying goes: When you want to distract the world from a bunch of glaring issues, publish images of nearly nude, very attractive women. The plan may be working, as proven by plenty of enamored men, including Kier White, who tweeted, “Russia wins the gold medal for hot female athletes” and @OddlyNormal, who admitted on Twitter, "Russia has some hot female Olympians. I didn't read a single word in the article lol.” Many women, meanwhile, have been focusing on the feminist perspective (Ginny Sanderson called the pics "cringey and demeaning").

The offical team pictures, which were posted to AdMe.Ru, feature hockey players, curlers, figure skaters, skeleton sledders, and skiers provocatively posing, some even with equipment from their respective sport. While getting the female athletes and their events some extra attention is admirable, objectifying the women in this way seems to send a distinctly opposite message: Watch these ladies for their gorgeous looks, not raw talent. Team USA's opening ceremony outfits may be officially fugs, but at least they don't reveal any cleavage.

http://shine.yahoo.com/fashion/scantily-clad-russian-olympians-are-making-us-uncomfortable-230750259.html (Warning for sexism and typical male sneering in comments section.)


As pictures of Team Russia's female Olympians in racy underwear go viral – and raise many an eyebrow – Russian-born women living in the UK plead with the world not to judge. Stripping off just isn't the taboo we think it is, discovers Louisa Peacock.

No sooner did AdMe.ru publish racy pictures of Russia's female athletes competing at Sochi wearing next to nothing, did the shots go viral online. And then came the judgment. Column inches spoke of the 'demeaning' way Russia is marketing its female Olympians. Others said the photos were controversial, adding that it brings a whole new meaning to the phrase 'checking out the competition'.

True, the photos are racy. True, these girls look like gorgeous pin-up models fit for a Pirelli calendar (well they are Olympic athletes; all those hours down the gym is bound to pay off). But what, really, is going on here? Have these women been exploited – used by Russia to soften the blow of all the other bad news so far surrounding Russia and Sochi (the anti-gay sentiment, the Winter Olympic Village still looking like a construction site)? Or are they 'free' – expressing their sexual freedom and just having a bit of fun?

A British brewery has launched a beer that ridicules Russian president Vladimir Putin and denounces Russia's anti-gay laws

So why are the Russian Olympic female team stripping off? Is it because they feel pressure to do so, that they've been pushed into 'selling' Russia in the only way they know how, that they've succumb to Russia's traditional patriarchal ways – or, just OR – could it be that they wanted to do this?

Yulia Ivanova, a Russian-born 31 year-old now living and working in England, tells me Russian girls are very "sex confident". They enjoy showing off their bodies.

"Russian women are notoriously sexual. In Russian culture, women constantly strive to look sexy, hot, want-able. Skirts and heels are standard. Mini skirts at that. Jeans and trainers, casual 'unisex' outfits on women are frowned upon. Women take great pride in their clothes, and always dress to the T's," she says.

"Russians are very sex confident. It is a topic that is always open to discussion, it is not taboo and shameful like it is in many Western countries. Many many women have lingerie photoshoots for fun, for themselves – to feel confident and celebrate their body. It is not seen as prostitution or degradation – it is seen as strength and confidence."

Ivanova points out that the Oxford rowing team stripped off naked for charity last year. Elsewhere Warwick University's rowers stripped off for charity. Both of these still attracted some controversy, but do people generally think that because it's for charity, it's more acceptable?

Either way, Ivanova adds: "I strongly feel that the Sochi Olympics is a giant feast for the Western media to rip Russia to pieces. And as such, any detail, any mistake, anything negative at all no matter how small will be the centre of attention – and all the positive things will go unnoticed."

Elsewhere, Russian-born Vicky Ryzhykh, 30, who also lives in the UK, says other athletes have stripped off for photoshoots in the past. "It's nothing we haven’t seen before. A few years ago a number of international female curlers posed for a naked calendar “Fire on Ice”. If I recall correctly one of the athletes said that if naked photos of her made a few more people watch curling then that was a good thing."

She adds: "I think they are doing it for fun, in order to generate interest in the games. I think that's why all other athletes do it.

"I definitely do not think they are under pressure or because [Vladimir] Putin ordered them," she laughs. "Everyone does it. It is not specific to female athletes or to Russia."

I've been to Moscow several times (my in-laws live there). The city is very modern, much more than you'd think, but then you do come across the odd ridiculous thing which completely objectifies women – like petrol stations using logos of busty women inviting boys to use her 'pumps' to fill up their cars. It's like something out of an Austin Powers fembot scene.

Austin Powers fembots. Is Russia stuck in the nineties?

Having said that, name me a country which doesn't objectify women in advertising campaigns? Is there any real difference between the Russian petrol fembot and the Wonderbra 'hello boys' campaign? Both use scantily clad women to sell something. The only real difference I can think of is time: that Wonderbra ad was from the nineties.

As far as the Sochi team go, good for them, if that's what they want to do. Who are we to judge?



The latest bombshell from Sochi has just dropped. In an attempt to make fans more excited about the games — and possibly to take some attention away from the last-minute dash to get Sochi hotels ready — Russia’s Olympic team has released a series of photographs of their female athletes in racy lingerie. On the website featuring the photos the Russian team calls the women “the best campaign for our team in Sochi” and says that the images “refute the stereotype that women in sport are a mountain of muscle and manly physique.” Policy Mic’s Matt Essert is less than impressed with the PR attempt.

"While it’s admirable that the Russian team is trying to refute the “muscle mountain” stereotype, they’ve just backed themselves into the opposite corner by going too far and objectifying them in these photos. It’s as though they’re saying “No, they’re not all weird and muscly, look at how pretty and sexy and feminine they are.” Is there no middle ground? Can female athletes only be a hulking strongwoman or a petite, feminine minx?

And why did the Russian team feel the need to shoot these photos? Isn’t it enough that these women are world-class athletes? Is the Russian team concerned that if their athletes aren’t hot, fans won’t be interested? And if they did want to show off their beautiful athletes, did they need to be dressed so provocatively?"

I couldn’t have said it better myself. I am completely behind showing off the powerful machines that are athletes’ bodies and celebrating the idea that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes, but there’s a much better way of doing that than, well, this.

I’m a huge fan of ESPN The Magazine’s Body Issue, which publishes stunning nude shots of athletes — both male and female. Scrolling through these pictures makes me want to put down the cinnamon roll I’m currently munching on, get off my ass, and go to the gym. I, too, want to be a powerhouse.

Just look at the different message emanating from these awesome images of Olympic snowboarder Elena Hight and Denver Nuggets power forward Kenneth Faried, versus the Russian female Olympians.

For starters, it’s clear these women are athletes and not lingerie models. Did you have any idea that Alexandra Saitova (the one with the mic) would be competing in curling? Or that Ekaterina Stolyarova (white stilettos) was a freestyle skier?

Thought not. And these aren’t even the worst ones.

A piece of advice to the Russian team: you don’t need to try so hard to make your female members look beautiful and sexy. Because guess what? Female athletes are already beautiful and sexy. They have incredible, powerful bodies; grace and inner poise. They’re confident and successful. They’re some of the worlds best athletes. Reducing them to pin-ups suggests you think they should be valued only for their sex appeal. They’re worth so much more to your country than that.



I was originally going to only post the one article, but stumbled across more than one interesting take on the controversy. Where do you fall on the subject? Do you agree that it is demeaning? Are we simply too repressed and shouldn't judge a society that has different views on female sexuality? Somewhere in between? Your discussion and thoughts, give them to me.

It is a given, but sources may be Not Safe For Work due to lingerie-clad women.
maynardsong 10th-Feb-2014 12:19 am (UTC)
If it were a 50-50 balance of sexy women and sexy men, I wouldn't have a problem with objectification. People are visual - guys and girls. The problem is that it's very heavily Straight Male Gaze, and this idea abounds that men desire and women are there to be desired. It's fucking bullshit. If that didn't exist, I wouldn't bristle at lingerie clad women, but if ifs and buts were candy and nuts...
qara_isuke 10th-Feb-2014 12:53 am (UTC)
If it were a 50-50 balance of sexy women and sexy men

This this this. It really does reduce their female athletes to sex objects, as opposed to the incredible athletes that they are. I said it elsewhere, but I would have less issue with this if one of two things happened:

1. Fanservice-y photoset included their male athletes as well.


2. The "sexy" was connected to their ability as athletes. Like, sexy workout gear and messy hair, with poses that showed off the beauty and strength of their bodies.

But instead we got a bunch of women that look like lingerie models, a couple of which are posing with a sports-related prop. If not told they were Olympic athletes, I would never know. It just goes back to reminding us that no matter how talented, how strong, or how amazing a woman is.....the only important thing is whether or not we look good in a thong and guys want to jerk off to our pictures.

lied_ohne_worte 10th-Feb-2014 04:42 am (UTC)
If it were a 50-50 balance of sexy women and sexy men, I wouldn't have a problem with objectification.

Exactly. I'm sure I've photo shots of athletes' teams before, including rather nice-looking men, but this is rather one-sided. Also, those photos look... cheap somehow, rather than artistic. Just compare to these - they are nude photos, but they're art as far as I'm concerned. (Sports students at the university Freiburg did them, the money going to leukemia blood typification.)

Edited at 2014-02-10 04:47 am (UTC)
qara_isuke 10th-Feb-2014 10:26 am (UTC)
Wow, those are incredible.

I think you nailed it with what really bothers me about them. Not seeing female athletes be sexy, but that these look so cheap. They've very Maxim, and nothing in them celebrates that these are incredibly accomplished athletes.
lied_ohne_worte 11th-Feb-2014 01:34 pm (UTC)
I hadn't even looked at all of them at first, but now that I followed the links further, this one is probably the worst. It just shouts "Olympic athlete", doesn't it?

The calendar I linked is double-sided - one side with men, the other with women. The article says that there might be discussions at home which side to display. ;-)
world_dancer 10th-Feb-2014 02:28 pm (UTC)
"If it were a 50-50 balance of sexy women and sexy men, I wouldn't have a problem with objectification."

Yup. That's certainly part of the problem. Women are traditionally objectified by men. When you only show women, then it's same-old, same-old "women are sex objects."

Then there's this:

"Russian women are notoriously sexual. In Russian culture, women constantly strive to look sexy, hot, want-able."

That's traditional "We determine our value based on how men value us and who is winning the mating competition." There's nothing wrong with being sexual or wanting to feel desirable. But when you're picking "I want to be admired for being sexy" over "I want to be admired for my work as a professional athlete on the world stage," it says that patriarchal values are really ingrained in your culture and that you conform to them and take a lesser position.
castalianspring 10th-Feb-2014 12:29 am (UTC)
"Jeans and trainers, casual 'unisex' outfits on women are frowned upon."

If that's the case, then I don't see how the rest of it (dressing "sexy") is something done freely as an empowering thing. It's just social pressure like anywhere else and deserves calling out.

Edited at 2014-02-10 12:29 am (UTC)
moonshaz 10th-Feb-2014 12:40 am (UTC)

Someone can be oppressed without realizing they're being oppressed.

Edited at 2014-02-10 12:42 am (UTC)
policraticus 10th-Feb-2014 12:52 am (UTC)
Pretty sure US Olympians, and other pro athletes have been part of nude spreads for ESPN and SI.

Demeaning is in the eye of the beholder.
qara_isuke 10th-Feb-2014 12:54 am (UTC)
Yeah, they have. Though those, from what I have seen, have consistently dealt with them as still being athletes first and foremost. (The third article has comparisons, showing some of those nudes photos.)
anolinde 10th-Feb-2014 01:54 am (UTC)
However, those have been fairly equally balanced between men and women, no? And, at least in the SI "Body Issue" or w/e, the point is to show how diverse athletic bodies are. It's not like, "yaaaaaaas sexy athletes yaaaaaas."
thepikey 10th-Feb-2014 05:01 am (UTC)
But in the cases you mention they're doing it as individuals, as opposed to Officially Representing the US Olympic Team.

It seems to add an extra layer of skeeziness.
soleiltropiques 10th-Feb-2014 05:47 pm (UTC)
Please go away, and take your mansplaining with you.

Last week, you were saying that sexual assault was in the eye of the beholder: http://ontd-political.livejournal.com/10944391.html#comments

So your argument amounts to... You don't want it to be demeaning to women so it isn't.

I give you -20 points for logic.
moonshaz 10th-Feb-2014 10:04 pm (UTC)
I second this.
robintheshrew 10th-Feb-2014 02:00 am (UTC)
Just popped in to say that they cull stray dogs at nearly all Olympics. This is sadly very common. :(
ellonwye 10th-Feb-2014 04:19 pm (UTC)
above deleted comment is mine because I replied on the wrong tab heeuugh
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