My daughter, the ever curious ten-year old, had already perused the entire magazine. She had even torn out a photo for me to giggle at with her. It was a young woman topless, wearing only a scarf, covering her nipple kneeling on the beach. "Look, Mommy! Her milk is letting down!"
I asked her, "So, what do you think? Sexy or sexist?"
"Sexist!" she replied. My husband looked sheepish.
"But Daddy isn't sexist," I said. "He just likes sexy." (After all, he had baked us a fresh lasagna for dinner, whisked the twins off to bathe them, and did the dishes.)
"No, Daddy is a feminist!" my daughter confirmed. At this point, we all began signing our favorite Ani Di Franco lyrics:
Feminism ain't about women
That's not who it is for
It's about a shift in consciousness
That will bring an end to war
After my ten year old went to bed, I admit, I read the magazine cover to cover. Believe it or not there's a section on how being in the Swimsuit Issue was a defining moment in the models' philanthropic and artistic careers! As my husband listened to my commentary, even he had to admit how ridiculous it was to see women objectified in this way. And it's crazy to see corporations like Target shamelessly and opportunistically supporting these images.
I don't mind sexy. I don't mind racy bathing suits. I don't mind that my husband still gets an eighth grade boy thrill at flipping through the pages. After all, I do too. But I was aghast and sad to see that even today, when the sexiest women I know are brilliant engineers and product managers, Sports Illustrated still thinks it's ok to celebrate women as sex symbols who can only succeed in careers like bathing suit model, mother, and celebrity philanthropist.
This evening, my husband volunteered that the Swimsuit issue's cover was downright offensive. (The cover shows three women in only bikini bottoms touching each other's bottoms with playful smiles on their faces.) And my daughter and I ordered the matching purple "Feminist" t-shirts we've had our eyes on for weeks. (Thanks, Sports Illustrated!)