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Sex And The Female Athlete

November 30th, 2013 - by - Uncategorized

In light of a recent article posted on Freeskier.com featuring the “Ten Hottest Women In Freeskiing,” I’m compelled to address an issue that has been discussed time and time again.  Last year around this time, the Bleacher Report posted an article on the 25 Hottest Female Winter Sports athletes (in which I was included) which prompted me to write me to write my own article on the 25 Hottest Male Winter Sport Athletes.  As entertaining as it was to write this article and as enjoyable as it was to look up photos of attractive men on the internet for a few hours, I really wasn’t targeting the root of the problem.  I was taking my frustration out (albeit in a humorous way) on men, who are deserving of attention for their athletic accolades, not their physical appearance.  And therein lies the problem.  Female athletes should be acknowledged for their success in their athletic pursuits, not for how “hot” they are.

I’m guilty myself of falling into the trap of using my sexuality to gain exposure.  As a 17 year old girl (at the time of the photo shoot, not of the publication) I was asked to be a part of Freeskier’s “Women of Freeskiing” issue.  The magazine came out in the fall of 2004, I believe it was the 3rd annual issue, and I had just turned 18.  The previous winter I landed on the podium of the US Freeskiing Open in Vail, CO and followed it up with a 4th place finish in Whistler at the World Ski Invitational (WSI).  Back then, I was known for having “man-sized air” as one article noted, and I burst onto the scene with so much motivation and enthusiasm for what would lie ahead.  Little did I know that my first chance to be in a ski publication would have more to do with my good looks than my skiing talent.  I posed in a bubble bath.  A bubble bath. And I don’t even like baths!  At the time, I thought it was great.  I actually really enjoyed the photo shoot–I love sports but I’ve always loved being a girl too, I love to get dressed up and I’m really not shy in front of the camera–but my 17 year-old self didn’t realize what I was allowing to perpetuate.  Thank heaven the internet wasn’t as prevalent back then, or when you google “Jen Hudak” today, an image of me sitting in a bubble bath would be the first image to come up.

That is the real problem.  These sexy images of female athletes live on forever and can actually do the athlete disservice.   The more attention that is paid to a woman’s looks, the less attention gets paid to the woman herself, her accomplishments and her athletic achievements. She just becomes another piece of eye-candy.  You see that with Danica Patrick right now!  Danica consistently gets criticized for having bought her way into NASCAR for her marketability (ahem, hotness) and not for her driving ability.  The fact of the matter is, that woman is fast behind the wheel of a car.  (You can read more on my assessment of Danica Patrick here).  But because of how much she has allowed her appearance to be exploited, people actually lose sight of how talented she is.

For example, recently Elena Hight became the first woman to land a double in the halfpipe on a snowboard (and only one of 3 people, male and female alike, to do that particular double) and subsequently this summer she posed in ESPN’s Body Issue.  ESPN usually does a terrific job at showing off athlete’s bodies in their unique sizes & shapes and displaying the strength of the women through the photos, so I understand Elena agreeing to do the shoot.  Elena is an amazing woman, athlete, and spirit- she cares greatly about health and fitness as you can see from her website and blog, but I worry about the effect of these photos.  Elena’s accomplishments on her snowboard may get lost in the shuffle because of the images that ESPN released.  But how much control is given to the athletes during these shoots? What kind of artistic direction, guidelines and limitations should be set?  It can get really frustrating as a female athlete to put thousands of hours into your craft, and not get deserved exposure for it.  At a certain point, it feels that these opportunities are the only way we can share what we do!

It is hard to pinpoint where to place the blame.  Is it the media’s fault for covering women in this way, or is it the fault of the men who want to read these articles over other articles pertaining to women’s athletics, or is it the women themselves who are to blame?  When a specific photo shoot is in order (like the one I did in 2004), I would say the women that partake have some responsibility in it, but in this case, it seems only Freeskier is to blame.  This issue has been debated before, but this time around it has been different.  I’ve seen men engaging in the conversation, men who are just as frustrated about this kind of exploitation as women. That takes a different tone.  Perhaps the biggest issue with this most recent list is the fact that it was posted from Freeskier.  Freeskier’s focus should be on the “skiing.”  There are plenty of other publications out there whose soul focus is on attractive women: FHM and Maxim to mention a few, so perhaps we can leave the objectification to them.

So where do we go from here?  Freeskiing is still fairly young in its roots but it does have an aging audience.  I’ve been doing this sport professionally for over a decade now which means that the guys who were 17 when I was 17 are now 27 year old men.  Perhaps they would be interested in seeing some skiing out of these women who are acclaimed to be the “hottest” things in freeskiing.  I know the women are up for it, they’re living it and doing it every day.  Maybe we don’t have front flips off of 100+ foot cliffs, but 60′ ain’t too bad, is it Rachael Burks?

photo by Blake Jorgenson

Rachael, doing what she does best!

Perhaps we don’t have triples on jumps, but we’ve got girls doing doubles (ahem, Lisa Zimmerman, Jamie Crane-Mauzy, Tatum Monod and others…).

Lisa, making the Nine Queens jump her own!

Lisa, making the Nine Queens jump her own!

And maybe we haven’t gotten the dub 12 in the pipe yet, but 1080s are pretty cool, right, Brita Sigourney, Anna Drew and Roz G? (Oh, and maybe me too [insert blushy face]…)

Riding my favorite pipe at Park City!

Riding my favorite pipe at Park City!

What these ladies do on the hill is more than most men in the world can do and that deserves some attention.

(Now, just for curiosity’s sake… go ahead and Google images for Danica Patrick, Kristi Leskinen, and Lindsey Vonn. Now google Jimmie Johnson, Tom Wallsich and Ted Ligety.  The images that come up are a little different aren’t they?)

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39 Responses to “Sex And The Female Athlete”

  1. Claire S says:

    Jen–thanks for your well-written and thoughtful piece. I thought it was interesting that many people responded to Freeskier’s article with “I can’t believe so & so isn’t on that list” when the true question is, “Why is there even a list?” I am glad that we are in a place in history where women are finally really fed up of being treated this way. It seems that the only appropriate response, and that which is happening (thanks for illustrating it above), is that women are getting so damn good that they can’t be ignored or simply marketed just for their looks.

  2. lucia Glasse- Davies says:

    Hi ! Nice article, good work ! Ive been working in the ski industry for 19 years, and Ive come back to your topic over and over.
    It seems almost like we cant get away from it..
    Is it just human nature, guys just want to look at hot chicks? and thererfore either you go with it or are ignored?
    I like the idea of strong sporty women being celebrated, but what about those whose achievements are just as great but maybe their face is not quite what the magazine wants… just thoughts!

    I feel like the only way to break such a cycle would be to have some kind of women in sport union, to agree on how to write/photograph about women in sport!

    is that taking the fun out of it ?

    thanks again for the article!

  3. EGB says:

    Well written, Jen. Bravo!

  4. Jake C says:

    Hell yeah! Stoked to read an eloquent and heartfelt article about something that affects not only the pro sports realm but deeply touches every aspect of American life. As a 26 year old male, who can’t ski half as well as you, I truly applaud your insistence on recognition for the ridiculously bad ass shit you do as opposed to your looks. Wake up everyone if these women wanted attention for their looks, they probably wouldn’t be sending 60 footers in the back country.

    • jenhudak says:

      Thanks so much for your support! It makes all the difference in the world to have support of women and men alike on this topic!

  5. Jo says:

    I ” unliked” freeskier on FB last winter due to these type of posts. thanks for the great post!

  6. jen says:

    we need more all women films and comps. nikita and lipstitck productions are like the leading role models for snowboarding but i’ve yet to see this come from skiing, and it’s disappointing. and on behalf of anyone with half a brain, i’m terribly sorry for anyone who treats you like shit because they’re jealous of your success. you have every right to feel insulted by how an industry treats your gender, and i sincerely hope you can proceed in moving it forward to make changes to better the future of girl riders everywhere. you have my back up 100%.

    • jenhudak says:

      I completely agree. The snowboard industry has done a really good job with this. Hopefully we’ll be able to see some positive change in the future!

  7. Adam OKeefe says:

    Very interesting topic, Jen! Thanks for broaching sexuality and the female athlete when few bloggers seem interested in touching upon it. As you seem aware, there are so very many angles to approach this topic from.

    However, it seems to distill down to three primary points: 1. How much control is given to the athlete? 2. Is submitting oneself to exploitation the only way to get deserved exposure for athletic prowess? 3. Who is to blame?

    You note that ‘in this case, it seems only Freeskier is to blame.’ I’m not so sure. Here’s why:

    To start with, there’s the case of interpretation. The title, ‘10 hottest women’ could refer to two different things. It could either be women whose skiing has put them in a place where they’re being noticed by a lot of people, or simply the 10 ‘most stunningly attractive ski women’ of the moment. Freeskier wrote: “Among the many female rippers who are making a name for themselves in the sport today, we highlight ten who stand out.” Maybe I’m mistaken, but it seems that they’re going for the former, not the latter. The topic of who is presently a rising star does not strike me as exploitative in itself.

    As for how much control is given to the athlete, as you noted in your bubble bath example, it depends on the project. In the current ‘10 hottest’ article, it seems that the athletes had complete control over how they presented themselves. How do I figure that? Mirjam Jaeger’s scantily clad selfie makes it obvious that Freeskier did not send a photog to each woman, who demanded that she pose a certain way, while wearing a certain amount, or lack thereof, of clothing. Five of the women are wearing ski clothing, five are not. It seems the athletes had complete control over how they presented themselves for this article.

    Further, the argument that relative youth – with its correspondingly larger desire for media coverage and potential for inexperience – might lead to more provocative photo submissions isn’t upheld by this article. Keltie Hansen, the second youngest, is wearing a winter coat and a scarf. Mirjam Jaeger, second from the oldest, offers up one of the more provocative poses.

    Let’s look at the second primary point, ie., volunteer exploitation for media exposure. Yeah, people can put 1,000’s of hours into their craft and feel they’re not getting the exposure they deserve. Happens all the time. But here’s the rub: if one performs at the highest levels, it is damn near impossible to avoid media exposure. It’s that simple. The thing is, a lot of people male and female alike, are willing to exploit themselves in lieu of putting in a few 1,000 more hours of practice to become even better at their craft.

    Who is to blame? Tough one, that. Freeskier cannot be absolved completely. If they strictly wanted to showcase rising stars, they’d have rejected scantily clad photos and requested all head shots, or something toned down. But they have readership to entertain, and to grow…

    The audience cannot be completely absolved, either. It’s low hanging fruit to put a picture of a cute woman in her underwear in front of a PBR drinking, male powder technician (generalizing). Everyone knows that, Freeskier’s editors know it, and it works every time. BUT, the issue is specific. Cosmo puts out a magazine every month with even racier images of women than Freeskier just did, and their majority readership is women! And so it’s hard to necessarily call that exploitation. It is, perhaps, about context.

    I don’t think it’s the Freeskier readership that’s completely at fault – regular readers read the stories and look at the pictures because they love skiing. They subscribe and return to those Internet pages primarily for snow images. But, the hint of sex sells, and include an article such as this ‘10 hottest’ list, and it’s not as if a lot of subscriptions will be dropped.

    What about the women in this Freeskier compilation? Is it somehow bad to aspire to be in an article by a publication that covers your specific sport, even if the article could be interpreted in two different ways? No. But is it up to the ladies themselves to implicitly agree to be exploited in exchange for coverage? Maybe. And further, maybe if you have a ‘nudist colony’ mindset, you don’t view skimpy clothing as any sort of exploitation at all. Except, Freeskier is a skiing media source.

    That said, just to pick an example, I think Grete Eliassen’s choice to be represented in ski clothing – coat, hat, and goggles, demonstrates that that is how she wants to be known and seen. As a skier. And it appears to me that she was given the choice of how to present herself for this article.

    • jenhudak says:

      Freeskier found all the images themselves without prior consent from the athletes. The athletes featured in the original post didn’t have any choice or say in how those images were going to be used.

      Thanks for your feedback and your insights! You can definitely interpret “ten hottest” in a few different ways.

      • Adam OKeefe says:

        Interesting once again, Jen. I’d considered that possibility, but dismissed it out of hand because if Freeskier chose to represent some athletes in one light, and others in a totally different light in the same article, that would show bias and a complete lack of journalistic integrity. It seemed ridiculous and improbable.

        This was particularly obvious when I Googled images of Lynsey Dyer, the first page of which was about half shots of her in a swimsuit. Yet, they chose to portray her in ski clothes. But not some of the other athletes.

        I’ll take your word for it that Freeskier gathered the images without athlete consent, simply because I suspect you know and may have even talked with a few of the women involved, about the issue.

        And with that, I have to agree with your original statement, ‘in this case, it seems only Freeskier is to blame.’ Way for Freeskier to present itself as ridiculous and improbable at the same time! Lame.

        • jenhudak says:

          Ironically, the initial photo that was posted of Lynsey Dyer was the most scandalous one, topless on the beach and she asked them to take it down and us a more appropriate image (the one that you see now). Thanks for your feedback and support!

          This is what Lynsey had to say on her facebook page.

          “For a little background:
          Freeskier used an image from a beach modeling shoot I did some time ago. Though I don’t have a problem wearing a bikini or celebrating being a girl, many legitimate skiing photos have been available to Freeskier Magazine if they would have only asked. However they used an image without rights or permission in a blatant objectification of some the most legitimate members of the Freeskiing family in exchange for page views. The photo has since been exchanged for a more appropriate image. I am requesting however that the piece be taken down entirely as a gesture of respect.

          Dear Freeskier:
          I know none of this was personal, I know you were probably trying to hit your numbers to appease your advertisers. I know that when the pressure is on it might be hard to remember that “hits” or “likes” come from people. You may have forgotten that a photo on a computer screen is connected to a living breathing human, just like you. A human, just like you, who is doing their best to live in integrity and authenticity without selling out to the man.
          I know there’s a lot of pressure from your competition, who get their page views up by playing to the lowest denominator. This is a pressure every one of us feels at some level. As women we know we can play the “hot” card any time and our number of fans will sky-rocket.
          If I wanted to play that game I would have put that picture up myself long ago. Instead, it’s a daily challenge to be true to the person I am striving to be over what I know will get the “likes”. I have a motto that says “Be so damn good they can’t ignore you.” I offer it to you now.
          I challenge you to be good Freeskier, be so damn good in your clever posts and progressive photography, in your writing and forward thinking that people can’t help but follow you as a leader. I know it’s not the easy way but I know for fact it is what Freeskier Magazine was founded on back in the day. I challenge you to be the progressive, forward thinking magazine your founder set out to create. The magazine all of us was inspired by and dreamed to be showcased in for our talent.

          For a little insight, one of the most progressive trends in skiing today is that of women rising up as legitimate athletes beyond their value as models to sell a product. The ladies are creating their own luck without waiting to be recognized or invited. Many established and up and comers are performing at a higher level, producing their own trips, shoots and content without objectifying themselves though I know it crosses their minds a lot. After all, tha’d be the easy way, but they didn’t fall in love with skiing because it was easy.

          Just sayin’…If you’re a dude who might someday genuinely want a girl he can be active with, it’s in your best interest to support women’s skiing for the SKIING over the pin-ups. You’ve known plenty of “hot” girls but finding one you can do stuff outside with, now that’s harder to find. The more we encourage the ladies to participate the more they will feel welcome in this community; directly addressing that ski-town guy-to-girl ratio issue some people like to complain about.… get the picture? Good, can we just go skiing now?”

  8. Kim Kircher says:

    After reading that Freeskier article today I was dismayed. I wondered where the voices were defending women? Instead, it was a snarky list of comments, asking why so-and-so wasn’t listed and putting anyone in their place if they questioned the idea of a professional skier’s “hotness” as a virtue. Thanks also Jen for talking about your experience. It could be all too easy to ask, “why would these women allow photo shoots like this if they didn’t want it?” That’s not really the point. I’m glad I found this post tonight.

  9. Murray says:

    So are you saying you would rather be less than attractive but the top talent at your sport, or would your rather be a pro athlete who is seen only as a pretty face not a real athlete? Last I checked your already both coming from someone who wouldn’t come close to either I would take a little objectification to gain my sport notoriety, and I guarantee if I see you in old town PC I would recognize you as an attractive female before a pro skier. But being that it’s downtown park city I would probably assume you were pro so etching or other anyway.

    • jenhudak says:

      I dream of a world where my looks don’t get factored in. And thank you, I have been blessed with a dash of talent and decent looks, but I can’t say I’d trade one for the other. No one should have to. Beautiful women shouldn’t be penalized for being beautiful nor should less attractive women be penalized for being “less attractive” according to societal norms. I’m just saying that within my sport, I want to be recognized for my athleticism. And the messages that get sent by certain images can be demeaning.

  10. Femanazi says:

    Let’s look at this another way. Do you ever think that Freeskier, OR Sports-illustrated, or Maxim or Playboy, for that matter, would ever do a feature on Jen Hudak if she was NOT a ripping female free-skier. HELL NO! She isn’t even close to good looking enough for that. On looks alone, she is maybe a 6 at best, and in an industry where 99% of the products advertised in these magazines are marketed towards men, a 6, based on looks alone, is not going to sell shit.
    Her whole premise is wrong. Factually speaking Jen Hudak would be nowhere if it were not for her skiing talents, AND the fact that she is a chick.

    Because until the day she is raking in huge dough making her living [/sarcasm] standing on the podium at a freeski comps, she ought to realize that every single person, man and woman, in the ski industry are there to look good and have their picture taken, because they are models used to sell a lifestyle, and that is what sells hats, skis, boots, earphones, movies and energy drinks. And in a world where 99% of the human race is either working their ass off for their next meal or has to wake up in the morning and degrade themselves at a job that they fucking hate, she ought to be fucking grateful.

    • jenhudak says:

      Thank you for your honest assessment of my attractiveness. This article in no way is a complaint about my place in this industry. I am extremely grateful for the life that I have and am able to live.

  11. [...] Women in Freeskiing.”  This article has ruffled a lot of feathers.  Professional freeskier, Jen Hudak certainly took offense to Freeskier’s article and here’s what she has to [...]

  12. Laurel says:

    I completely agree!
    Last winter I sent Freeskier a message saying “I see a lot of your ads have half-naked women on them. Where are the half naked guys?”

  13. laura says:

    Thank you for being a positive role model for young women in your sport and the wider world …mainly by writing so well about such an important subject.

  14. [...] X Games champion Jen Hudak writes an exceptional article about the exploitation of women’s looks in her sport of freeskiing – in response to this “10 hottest women in freeskiing” [...]

  15. Martyn says:

    Sex sells and that simply will not change. If female athletes want to be recognised for their athletic and sporting ability alone then simply do not participate in any photo shoots that involve wearing your underwear. It really is rather simple. Many will have no sympathy whatsoever with hypocrites. Why call this article Sex and the female athlete?? Because you wanted attention and by using this title you probably knew you’d get greater exposure than a title such as ‘my concerns over female athletes not being respected for their sporting prowess’

    If women were to perform at he same standard as men and therefore desire the same level of recognition, compete in the same race in open gender categories. Why is that not happening? Physiology and nature, human nature. The same human nature that will result in your physical beauty selling magazines. (Especially FHM/Maxim, doesn’t take the brains of a rocket scientist to second guess that any photo shoot with said magazine is likely to involve some exposure).

  16. [...] you’d rather read something real, check out Jen Hudak’s post Sex and the Female Athlete, which eloquently scathes Freeskier’s 10 Hottest Women in Freeskiing article. If I [...]

  17. Craig Fulton says:

    Jen

    I saw the Freeskier article over the weekend. It immediately conjured up memories of this article from Seventeen magazine in September, the “25 Hottest College Football Players!” (http://www.seventeen.com/college/advice/hottest-college-football-players#slide-1). The article was rightly lampooned by much of the sports media for its ridiculousness.

    The Freeskier article reads no different though. There’s some fringe discussion of the athlete accomplishments, and then comments on appearance and current relationship status.

    Frankly I don’t think that comparison to a Bleacher Report or Seventeen slide show is what Freeskier’s editors were going for when they posted the article. And it’s not what I would expect from a Ski Publication with so much writing talent. However, that’s the conundrum with Freeskier. It makes it hard to read a Tess Weaver article on trekking in Europe during the morning commute, when the facing page is 2 models in big pants and some strategically placed skis.

    I’m happy to see the criticism of the article, because it’s rightly deserved. It’s lazy, pandering journalism. We as skiers should expect our “trade” pieces to feature and promote our standout athletes as athletes who have other interests, and not eye candy that happen to be among the greatest skiers in the world.

  18. mark says:

    My wife has been complaining about the “hotness” issue in woman’s skiing for years and I agree with her. We share your opinion and it has nothing to do with the fact we are the parents of two daughters involved in competitive skiing. It doesn’t help that the manufacturers of ski equipment use sexuality to sell their products. The Lange boot posters which featured scantily clad female racers kept us from using their product years ago. Our 18 year old daughter is a mogul skier and the number of skis available for this branch of skiing are quite limited when compared to alpine skiing. The fact that Rosignol’s mogul ski had a large silhouette of an overly-busty female kept us from ever considering their product.

  19. [...] Jen Hudak describes her own experiences with sexual persuasion: “I’m guilty myself of falling into the trap of using my sexuality to gain exposure. As a 17 year old girl (at the time of the photo shoot, not of the publication) I was asked to be a part of Freeskier’s “Women of Freeskiing” issue. The magazine came out in the fall of 2004, I believe it was the 3rd annual issue, and I had just turned 18. The previous winter I landed on the podium of the US Freeskiing Open in Vail, CO and followed it up with a 4th place finish in Whistler at the World Ski Invitational (WSI). Back then, I was known for having “man-sized air” as one article noted, and I burst onto the scene with so much motivation and enthusiasm for what would lie ahead. Little did I know that my first chance to be in a ski publication would have more to do with my good looks than my skiing talent. I posed in a bubble bath. A bubble bath. And I don’t even like baths! At the time, I thought it was great. I actually really enjoyed the photo shoot–I love sports but I’ve always loved being a girl too, I love to get dressed up and I’m really not shy in front of the camera–but my 17 year-old self didn’t realize what I was allowing to perpetuate. Thank heaven the internet wasn’t as prevalent back then, or when you google “Jen Hudak” today, an image of me sitting in a bubble bath would be the first image to come up. [...]

  20. Somewhat Anonymous says:

    I’m interested in this subject as I have a daughter in the sport and I definitely follow the men’s side AND the women’s side.

    The somewhat obnoxious poster who said “Jen is a 6″ actually had a point (not that you are a 6, but his/her other point).

    He/she noted that athletes (men or women) are there to sell an image. That image could be one of many things as it is in all sports – sexiness (Beckham), greatness (Beckham…early years)…skill (Wallisch)….sexiness and skill (Vonn)…you get the picture.

    Take Beckham, though..here is a guy that was great in his early years and rode his looks/fame in later years. There are many, many examples of this….Let’s face it Jen…a girl like Lisa Zimmerman has a little bit of both. Kelly Sildaru may eventually have both…she’s a great skier now, but a little girl and getting accolades for it.

    I like the subject, but I agree with you. Great skiing will get you far. Get a girl out there throwing a triple (maybe Maggie Voisin) and there is no question, but sports – men or womens – has always been marketability. Dennis Rodman rebounded like a god damn fool, but he wasn’t particularly marketable. Larry Bird shot the shit out of the ball, but was he as marketable as Jordan….Turski does great in the girls ranks and is both. Kournikova….well, she’s a pretty face that sells tennis rackets. You can be one or both I suppose.

  21. Somewhat Anonymous says:

    I suppose I’d also concur with the writer in the “Sex sells and that simply will not change”.

    He very simply states that men maybe have more opportunity due to their athletic prowess where women have more opportunity due to their looks/physical beauty.

    In other words, for every Michael Jordan or Peyton Manning there is a Miranda Kerr or a Heidi Klum.

    I guess you go with what gives you. I’d argue Peyton Manning had to work a lot harder to get where he is than Miranda Kerr. Dude spent countless hours on a football field….Miranda Kerr was just born hot.

    There may not be the female version of Tom Wallisch or Tom Brady, but I’m not exactly certain what the male version of Miranda Kerr/Candice Swoepenel is?

    Jen?

  22. Nan says:

    Jen,

    Thank you so much for this thoughtful piece. When I was in grad school 7 years ago I was writing papers about how female athletes are depicted. I am sorry that very little has changed in that time. I am fortunate to work with you and your teammates and I know how strong and talented you are in your sports. I would love for more people to see that side of you and your sport. Thank you for sharing this.

  23. [...] den kvindelige del af freeskiing. Forrest i kampen om kønnene, står pipeskieren Jen Hudak, som skrev dette meget lange, halvkedelige og ret usexede blogindlæg om ikke at fokusere på kvindernes evner i stedet for deres [...]

  24. Travis E. says:

    Freeskier, guilty of the objectification of women (some of them girls!), once again to me is no surprise. They have re-hashed this article/topic time after time over the years. They have CHOSEN to not take the high road on this topic and have CHOSEN to go with the “sex sells” bit. Let us not forget they’re first ever issue had a photo of Cindy Crawford posing with J. Mosely. While those of you pro shreds have decided to take an understandably political tone in the way you have “called out” FS for this, I for one choose to call them out in dropping my subscription. I encourage all others reading this to do the same. Also I encourage any ski marketing peeps to put your dollars elsewhere (Powder, Backcountry, Ski Journal, etc..). What super sucks is the amount of controversy this article has generated only encourages FS to do the same thing down the road again…my guess is thats what happened here due to the controversy over the last time they did this. Having formerly run a certain ski summer camp on Hood for over a decade I understand how both the ski media works, and they’re importance in helping “break out” whose next. What FS is doing is complete and blatant exploitation of extremely young girls who think that any press of them is good. FS is treating these ladies as a piece of meat. Take note any young lil’ lady rippers out there, never succumb to one of these types of photo shoots or articles. Back in the day Grete Eliassen was asked to pose for this same article when she was an unknown skier and told FS no. I’d say it didn’t hurt her ski career one bit. Those of us Dads with young sons, it is our responsibility to raise our boys to have respect for girls as equals in athletics, and everything else. FS, you’re lame. Integrity has proven to not be your strong suit. You are simply chasing the buck..and mine is going elsewhere.

  25. Married guy in Vail says:

    I guess your target demographic are of importance…If its a guy oriented magazine then well it is what it is. If you value expanding readership then you need to think about what women want to be looking at. As a guy I’ll bet you can guess how much reading I would be doing on a ski mag that has a “25 hottest guys” feature. BTW, when I come home from the post office with the latest ski mag, who do you think grabs it from me before I have a chance to read it? My SKI OBESSED WIFE, thats who!

    (Glad to be married to a ski bunny).
    Married guy in Vail

  26. [...] X Games champion Jen Hudak writes an exceptional article about the exploitation of women’s looks in her sport of freeskiing – in response to this “10 hottest women in freeskiing” [...]

  27. Shawn Carter says:

    Jenn

    Props for broaching this subject. Jen. you have identified a symptom not a cause. The cause is complex as you alluded to in your writing.

    Yo reader, you don’t know me and there is reason for that. You don’t know my friends either, again there is a reason.

    This is going to be long winded so if you need some immediate gratification stop reading and go somewhere else.

    Around 40 years ago a large contingent of Wasatch sliders (yes sliders) decided that what the local pow pow scene did not need was exposure and consequently decided to just say no to publicity, photos, interviews, you get the idea. Several of these folks are World Champion skiers and world famous snowboarders.

    Can you name these people? If you cannot then my point is made. They managed to remain fairly anonymous in spite of their accomplishments. If you know who these people are, congrats, you are well versed in Wasatch ski history. Many others have made first descents on some of the worlds highest peaks and most extreme lines with no accolades because a conscience decision was made to not make a big deal about it. Stay with me here….this is absolutely not about any of these people.

    By choosing to not whore out, my friends and I feel we may have gotten around 5-10 more years of good pow that we would not have gotten had the media gotten a handle on our stories and photos. Having already made this decision for myself, with an outcome that seems just and absolutely worth it, I now face a similar situation with my son.

    He faces pressure to get with the “social media program”, and has thus far resisted. It has had a detrimental effect on his sponsorship opportunities, not easy for a 17 year old. He just opened his facebook page two weeks ago. He is now going to dive into this with his eyes wide open. I am not saying he did this right, only history will grade him, but, he did approach the situation carefully and with a plan.

    While I cannot speak specifically to every current athlete, my feeling is, most of the contemporary athletes have established relationships with professional photographers and seek media exposure. There is compounded pressure from sponsors, who want to see twitter counts and instagram feeds….blah blah blah. You get the idea.

    My point is this….as an athlete, you and you alone make the decision whether or not you are going to whore yourself out to the media. It is really important to think this through as deep as your mind will allow. Once you open this door you need to have a really good focus on the good, the bad, and the ugly. More on this later.

    In Peru, the Quechua feel that if you take a photo of a living being you capture (literally) their soul. As a result, they will not allow photos of their kids, which happen to be cute as hell. Maybe it would be wise for the current crop of athletes to consider a similar point of view.

    Granted, its pretty hard to envision a 17 year old kid seeing all the ramifications of a decision to do a simple photo shoot. Most kids would just be stoked to get some publicity. What is the cost of said publicity ? Somebody needs to take responsibility for this. Nobody can foresee the future but certainly the adults in the situation have a better perspective on the ramifications than a teen.

    The point here is simple, once an athlete has made the determination to gain media exposure, there are unforeseen consequences. It could be something simple like your secret stash is hammered before you get there or someone copies your techniques and improves them to the point of making you obsolete or as the point of this article, the objectification of you or someone you love.

    As harsh as it sounds you live by sword die by the sword. Think about it the next time you want exposure whatever the motivation.

    love

  28. Eddie says:

    What a brat. What the heck is wrong with being called sexy? What company would want to sponsor someone they couldn’t call sexy? A country dominated by a capitalist ideals uses sex appeal to sell. Boasting about accomplishments is not sexy. Sure be happy about them and proud of them but professional athletes exist to sponsor goods. They provide an image that people look at and want to be. Call it female empowerment or whatever you want but the bottom line is you are a brat. Good thing I’m not one of your sponsors.
    You just lost a fan.

  29. [...] to her real life interactions (thanks, Jen!).  An advocate for women in sports, she challenges outdoor media to focus on the athlete, saying in a November post on her site: “There are plenty of other publications out there whose [...]

  30. […] tones, as well as “imperfections” like tan lines and scars.  Nevertheless, Kim and Jen Hudak make good points in their criticisms of sexy shoots.  Why do those get more attention than actual […]

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