Belle & Small
Loren Rowney does her best #Peter Sagan impression. #pinch #redlandsclassic (via johnvalenzuela on Instagram)
It’s reasonably safe to say that I may be the only girl in the world who both objectifies the Dudes of professional cycling and hostesses podiums. So today, I find myself with a rather singular point of view. I’d been turning over in my mind the idea of writing a response-from-the-podium to Alison Tetrick’s spot-on podium rules, and then de Ronde van Vlaanderen happened. Not de Ronde itself, exactly, but its podium. Well, not the podium, precisely. The pinch. Sagan’s grabby little hand has forced my own.
Now, a lot of people are making quite the big deal over all this. But before you stop reading this post to Internet-cry “That’s because it’s a big deal!”, know that I wholeheartedly agree with you. No one should ever be touched without consent. For those of you who apologised for, made light of, or otherwise excused the pinch on Sagan’s behalf, I am glad that I know now what kind of person you are. For those of you trying to draw correlations between Sagan’s idiocy and other issues of gender parity in professional cycling, sponsorships, and airtime, not today.
As a podium hostess, I like to say that I have the best job at the bike race, and nothing that I saw this weekend changed that. But it’s the wave of comments brushing off Sagan’s behavior as ‘just having a laugh’ that make me think I might be doing the best job at the bike race in front of the worst people in the industry.
As I once said in an interview, hostessing a podium is about honoring tradition. See, cycling’s podium kisses are our Gatorade bath, our kissing of the Stanley Cup, our garland of roses. These traditions have earned, and deserve, the utmost respect from all involved. Those of us who hostess podiums do so with equal enthusiasm for both sexes’ accomplishments. (And if I may editorialize for a moment, I will say that the women’s podiums are frequently my favorites…) I am here because I love the sport of cycling, I love taking part in celebratory ceremony, I love making winners feel special, and I happen to look like $1M doing it because that’s part of my job: Celebration. Not objectification.
They say it’s easier to beg forgiveness than ask for permission, but the grace of forgiveness doesn’t mean what you did will be forgotten. Proceed with caution.
Here’s hoping I’ll take the same photo of Sam at Hoogerheide 2014 that I’ve taken in Koksijde and Louisville.
This is your bedtime story, goodnight.