The issue of women in motorsport is often a never-ending series of feminist rants. I’m usually not very good at those, as I cannot be bothered to get into rational arguments with irrational people. I’m one of those who think that 50 Shades is simply a poorly written book (I cannot underline just how poor; Honda’s mammoth championship winning press release from last year had more lyrical power) and that any 20-year-old who doesn’t know what email is has bigger issues to worry about than BDSM.
But, back to my point, LCR’s Wednesday night bike presentation was like a page of EL James’ book: 50% unnecessary glam, 10% shiny gadgets and 40% ridiculous. It caught my eye enough for me to rant about it here. Why? Well, let’s say it was the first time when Jack’s presence didn’t irk me the most. It was the feminine presence that annoyed me on this particular occasion.
You surely noticed the two ladies in not-so-subtle white body paint and red lipstick, helping the riders take the covers off the brand new bikes. The only other occasion when I saw technically naked ladies next to suited professionals, was in Showgirls. It’s not glam and it’s not a subtle innuendo, it’s just a terrible cliché.
But that got me thinking (right after I mentally put some clothes on those girls) about women in MotoGP. And I was rather worried when I noticed that the Monster girls came to mind quicker than Maria Herrera or Ana Carrasco. Although, to be fair, they’re easier to recognize than most Moto3 riders are. Because they (as the rest of the umbrella carrying community) are everywhere: team presentations, sponsor events, social media, motorbike magazines, and even their own section on MotoGP.com. Yes, next to Latest Photos and Grand Prix, there’s Paddock Girls. Not Mechanic of the Month, or Crazy Costumed Fans, but Paddock Girls. Who visits the sport’s official website to look at half-naked women?
Probably the same people who think that sexy women and dangerous sports are the perfect mix, like in the good old days when the world’s elite athletes, as icons of virility, were surrounded by doe-eyed groupies who helped them make the headlines the following day. That was back when women were a caricature expected to be a chef indoors and a gullible vamp outdoors. Times changed, but motorsport got stuck in the stereotype. And it should change, first of all because I wouldn’t be able pick ‘macho and virile’ in a line-up of MotoGP riders (with a few starred and striped exceptions) and soon ‘legal age’ will be a problem too. When an umbrella girl’s skirt finishes somewhere around the handlebars of a 18-year-old 1,60m rider, that’s just laughable.
So what should be done? Banning umbrella girls seems like a pointless exercise, and how many of us would say no to earning some money by doing basically nothing? If the objectifying of women is so ingrained in our culture, then why not even out the situation somewhat, by counteracting it with an equal amount of male objectification? Here are a few ideas:
- The Monster girls replaced every other week by Monster boys in hotpants. How long until pit lane crews start getting really uncomfortable?
- Moto3 riders as umbrella boys at MotoGP races. Who cares if they have other talents, the main criteria is to be young and thin, right?
- #ToplessThursday on the MotoGP Twitter account, where riders take revealing selfies during their track walk/ride.
- Sponsor campaigns where the riders are pictured trying to fix the kitchen sink or unclog the drains (and they only get paid if they can actually do it).
- Give all male team members proper attention by having someone whistle every time they leave the garage.
- The Bridgestone Calendar – like the Pirelli one but with team staff instead of famous supermodels.
- Now how about instead of naked models at team presentations, we get Cal & Jack in body paint? Can you see that in your mind? A hairy chest covered in dried white aquarelle? Right there, that face you pulled right now was my exact reaction to the photos from that event.