The Squeeze: Jeff’s take

[A day late, but never a dollar short, Jeff offers his reactions to “the Pinch.” Anna’s take here]

A New Hero

Last Sunday at the prestigious Tour of Flanders, Peter Sagan, a young 23 years of age, was to become the hero of women’s cycling and feminism in general by finally taking a stand. His well thought out plan was to cast a bright light on the disgraceful way the traditions of podium celebrations in men’s cycling have objectified women for years. Tradition states that two beautiful women, known as podium girls, will be paid to stand on the stage, at either side of the winner, wearing tight fitting clothes. Just as he receives his trophy, they will plant a big kiss on each cheek as photographers go wild in a barrage of shutter clicks and flash bulbs. Even young Peter knows how wrong this is. In this day and age of equality, we should be beyond subjecting women to jobs such as this, where they are seen as trophies themselves, so he formulated a plan. He was going to show the world how appalling this tradition is, and in one fell swoop, begin a discussion that might put an end the age-old silliness.

As he climbed the Patterberg for the final time, he positioned himself in second place and held out to the finish. Just so he would be in the perfect spot. Not distracted by women kissing his cheeks, but a step down he would be right next to the rear end of one of the women. All it took was a wink at one of the photographers, to steal his shutter for one click, and with a wry smile he reached out and gave that rear end a squeeze. It had all the makings of a boyish prank, but it was so much more. It was the squeeze that launched a million tweets. Just as he predicted, the discussion spread round the globe. Atrocious! Appalling! Horrific! Unbelievable! How can this practice still be in place? Podium girls? Really? It’s 2013, what other sports has such a stupid tradition as this?

Role Model? Not likely.

Okay, in seriousness, am I giving the young Slovakian lad WAY too much credit, yes maybe. But in my opinion, so were those participating in the online debate. What riled me all day long was reading how his squeeze, grope, feel, sexual harassment, spoke for all male cyclists and men’s cycling in total. I understand that such acts are wrong and shouldn’t be tolerated, but one act of a class clown doesn’t speak for the whole student body. I didn’t want to defend the act but I felt we were losing a bit of perspective. Can’t we take a deep breath and a touch of understanding that we don’t all share the same sense of humor? Some of us still have lessons to be learned. I wanted to jump into the discussion as all I was reading was cut and dry, black and white, how can people still act this way? Can’t men get past these views? She did not ask to be publicly fondled! I AGREE, BUT!  … I would formulate a statement and then delete it. I would think up another, then delete it too. My blood pressure was probably elevated for most of the day, wanting to say, “He’s the class clown! A punk kid. We’ve laughed at his silliness on the finish line, as it riles the establishment buried in staunch positions of authority and opinion. Get a grip, he is not the role model, nor does he speak for every male.” But I kept my mouth shut for the most part. See? I’m not so dumb after all.

Lesson Learned

Hours later, I filled my wife in on the story of the day. As I told her about who was involved, and how the podium unfolded, her initial reaction was much like mine. Puh-lease, get over yourself. Why do some people take themselves so seriously? Then I got to the squeeze. Things changed immediately. That was a line. When it became a physical, that was a turning point I hadn’t previously given the respect it deserved. I was reminded of more than one workplace situation she’s had where  a co-worker’s lack of common boundaries and ideas of what was funny led to incidents that weren’t life shattering, but none-the-less incidents which shouldn’t have to be tolerated by anyone. “That’s stuff Sagan should have learned in the fifth grade. His teammates should have let him have it for acting that way!” Once again, as she put me smack in my place, I was reminded of how much I love being married to such a tolerant woman. A whole new level of respect. I hope you’ll all please bear with me as I too still have many lessons to learn.

Check out Anna’s take here!

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Posted on April 4, 2013, in commentary and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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