I got an interview on Pez, which went up today:
On Facebook I joked that I asked for my picture to go up in the Daily Distractions, but they said my tits weren't big enough. Funny, maybe, but I was actually trying to make a point there. I've been asked to be interviewed or to contribute to Pez in the past, and I've said no each time. I simply can not get past the "distraction." Not because I don't like boobies. I like boobies. But why are there boobies on a cycling news site?
From my standpoint, the Daily Distractions on Pez plays into a few different dynamics. One, there's a message that this is a web site by boys, for boys. Only boys race bikes, and only straight ones at that? It's almost English in its Page 5 tabloid girl approach. I also see it as related to the podium girl dynamic. Even if men and women are reading the site (or simarly watching a podium presentation), everyone likes to look at women. Male gazers are looking at potential sexual partners, and female viewers are looking at how these women are being perceived and evaluating them in relation to themselves. There are never male podium presenters because only straight women want to look at men, but everyone, male and female, likes to look at women. When the race winner has two beautiful women on either side of him, takes a fluted champagne bottle and explodes it from his hips, spraying the women on both sides of him and the crowd as well, can there be any mistaking this ritual as symbolic of the porn-style money shot? Further, it reinforces the traditional, patriarchal, heteronormative view of sex and gender roles. Even if the podium presentation is for a women's race, the dynamic is the same; the image is identical to a Girls Gone Wild-style mock lesbianism tailored specifically for the straight male audience and the women who want to be desired by those men. Welcome to the patriarchy.
When I go to Pez, I always go to the Daily Distractions. I simply have to look, because it's the proverbial train wreck. Again, it's not that I don't like hot girls, it's that when I go to a cycling news site, I want read about cycling, and not be distracted by the objectification of women. How can we possibly treat female cyclists as pro athletes if we're also putting up pictures of podium girls right next to them, or even pictures of the athletes themselves as sex objects? It's ok to be hot, and it's ok to be an athlete. But can we focus on the athletics, and the news, if that's what the point of the site is?
So I guess I finally caved, and agreed to be interviewed. Jered Gruber, who wrote the article, has been doing a great job recently with his reports and coverage from Europe. He's making a strong effort for serious cycling journalism with the unique approach of someone who's been a pro, and is also a huge fan of bike racing. He's also a friend and former teammate, and someone I spent a lot of time training with in Athens, GA. He's not the one responsible for the Daily Distractions, and he's aware of my distaste for it. I decided to compromise, I suppose, by agreeing to support Jered and work with him on an interview, while still saying no to writing anything myself of generating content for the site.
I feel a little bit like I sold out here with this compromise. I'm still generating traffic for Pez in exchange for some exposure for myself and Cycle-Smart, and in that way endorsing or supporting the Daily Distractions. But it also gave me the opportunity to talk about it here, show my support for the good journalism they're doing, while calling out the blatant boys club atmosphere created by the Distractions.
So Pez, thanks for the interview. But if you want to be serious about cycling news it's time to focus on cycling news. Get rid of the distractions.