The HuffPo is off my reading list

That’s it, I guess. I’ve had the impression the Huffington Post was going downhill for a good long time now, and it’s now confirmed. This, on the front page?


Is not funny or clever. It’s just downright creepy and exploitative.

[description: a very young Chinese girl in the red and gold national Chinese gymnastics uniform is pictured in action with a “Beijing 2008” banner in the background. She is in the air, legs spread wide in the splits, toes pointed, camera pointed directly at her crotch. The caption, in very large blue type, reads only “UNDERAGE”.]

Categories: arts & entertainment, ethics & philosophy, gender & feminism

Tags: , , , ,

22 replies

  1. I’m so past being enraged by this bullshit any more. I mean, there’s the age obsession, the females-are-only-for-fucking obsession, the oh-yes-this-is-all-about-athleticism-and-international-unity-now-back-to-the-beach-volleyball obsession. It gets bloody tirings.
    One thing still confuses me. What is the obsession with reporting whether or not a young woman who most of the readers will never meet much less have a chance of sleeping with is over the age of consent? I mean, if it’s meant to be some kind of salve to men’s consciences when they’re whacking it that at least the object of their masturbatory fantasies is legal … clue-by-four: you’re still creepy.

  2. QoT, the article isn’t about whether or not she’s under the age of consent, it’s about whether she’s too young to compete legally at the Olympics. However, given that the word “underage” is broadly used in Western English-speaking countries to mean “under the age of consent”, the use of the term in conjunction with a picture of a gymnastics move that involves split legs, gives the whole thing a rather nasty and completely unnecessary sexual connotation.

  3. I read QoT as tangenting onto the general obsession with celebrity age-of-consent. The Olsen Twins, etc.

  4. HuffPo was kicked off my reading list last week. I’m sick of all the random sexist crap that gets put in there. Oy.

  5. Yes, they started losing me back when they posted a ringing, sniggering endorsement of the bullshit research “demonstrating” that stiletto heels are good for your pelvic floor.

  6. Grr, hackles are way up! I am so sick of people pulling shit like that and thinking it is clever! Note to idiots, violence, especially against ‘the underaged’ (as they so charmingly put it) is repulsive, not ‘funny funny ha ha’.

  7. Trivialising and objectifying young women athletes – nice, Huffington. Instead of thinking “you are strong and clever and can do amazing things with your body” we must think “you do things with your body that make me think about fucking you”. Young women don’t get to be impressive, even when they’re doing something extraordinary, we reduce them to a masturbatory joke. And great point aw fisticuffer about paedophilia jokes.

  8. That…is really appalling. I can’t really say anything but that.

  9. Does everyone here realize that it’s not about being underage legally or sexually? The point of the headline is that there are accusations that the Chinese government has changed the birthdate on this athlete’s passport to allow her to participate in the Olympics. Supposedly she is only 14 and the age requirement is 16.
    I don’t see this headline and photo as sexist (or even sexual) or appalling. I have plenty of problems with the media’s gendered coverage of the Olympics but I really don’t see what’s to be upset about in this particular case. And I don’t quite understand what you mean by saying it’s not funny or clever. I don’t think it was intended to be funny or clever- just a headline stating the accusations against the Chinese and a photo showing the athlete in question in a typical action shot.

  10. Does everyone here realize that it’s not about being underage legally or sexually?

    Yes, everyone here knows what the story is ostensibly about.
    Just for once, it would be really nice if new commenters spent more than thirty seconds reading the blog and engaging the brain before assuming that everyone here is fourteen kinds of oblivious.

  11. OK, so everyone already knew the backstory. Thanks. Then I’m still not sure why you say it’s not funny or clever. Why would they be trying to be funny or clever?
    I tried to find the story you were referring to on HuffPo and I’m not sure if it’s the same one because the picture has apparently been changed, but as far as I can tell, there’s no sexual innuendo in the story. It’s apparently just the photo and headline that bother you. I’m trying to see it from your perspective but I just don’t get what’s so wrong with the one-word accusation of passport forgery and the photo of the girl performing in her sport. Yes, her legs are split, because it’s gymnastics. But it’s not a sexual pose.

  12. It’s the double meaning that I don’t like. Spread legs and underage can mean both too young to compete in the Olympics and too young for sex. If they were serious, show a different photo of her routine. That the double meaning was intended is, for me, beyond doubt.

  13. I agree with Mindy. There is no way that this photo, with the gymnast spread eagle, is unintentional given the headline.

    They could have used a shot from the other 95% of her routines when she does not have her legs spread in the splits.

  14. Thanks for the responses and explanations. I still disagree but I respect that you guys see it that way. “Underage” on its own can mean a million different things- too young to drink, to drive, or to ride the roller coaster without your parents. So it’s just the picture that’s the issue, and actually if I were the editor I would have been looking for a picture similar to this. The reason is that this particular gymnastics move – a flying release on the parallel bars- is the primary one that has been identified as giving younger, lighter gymnasts an advantage( – note that the NYTimes uses the same picture). Also, it’s this particular athlete’s main event (she was the gold medalist in this event). If they were looking for a sexy pose, I’m sure they could have found something else. To me, this picture is just about gymnastics.
    Thanks for the responses.

  15. I don’t see it as being either the word or the picture. I see it as both, in combination. If it was just that word, or just that picture, it wouldn’t really imply anything to me. Driving a car and drinking don’t have anything to do with spread legs. As someone who doesn’t follow sports, I immediately read that picture as being about sex before even reading the headline or anything else.
    It reminds me a lot of this (thankfully fake) ad. Sure, Creamsicles are lickable, and clearly that’s what “Breyer’s” is advertising, and of course these gymnasts are going to be showing off their skills because that’s why they’re “celebrities”! And it makes sense that they’d be endorsing it, because celebrity endorsement sells things, and its even better that child celebrities are selling a children’s snack…
    but the double meaning is obvious, intended, and disgusting.

  16. Meg, I couldn’t access the image direectly from your link. I did find it though, using the search function at Museum of Hoaxes: Lickable Breyers Ad – you have to click on the link there for the image to show in a pop-up.
    I agree, the intended message in both that “ad” and this news story is a deliberately crass pun highlighting the sexualised aspects of gymnastics uniforms and movements.

  17. My mind is yelling “That Breyers ad must be a hoax… mustn’t it?”

  18. Pretty sure that’s why it’s in the Museum of Hoaxes?
    But yes, it was not made by Breyers according to both Meg and the MoH site.

  19. Well, woot for that misreading!

  20. Whoops, sorry about that. I guess they don’t approve of my hotlinking them. 😀


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