My husband is a golf nut. He plays, he watches. Last night our TV was tuned to the Golf Channel for the final holes of the LPGA event from Oahu, Hawaii. Michelle Wie was finishing up her win. I didn’t pay much attention to the golf part, but a few minutes later, I looked up and saw the uber-talented Ms. Wie in the middle of…a hula line? Well, alright, she was born in Hawaii, the tournament is held in Hawaii, and the hula is a traditional Hawaiian dance. So maybe she’s accepting the trophy there among the hula dancers.
But Ms. Wie, the winner of a professional golf tournament for which she earned $255,000, didn’t have a trophy in hand, Instead, she was being asked, urged, to participate in the dance. REALLY? Could she not stand aside to watch and appreciate the skills of the women performing in her honor? Give them a polite golf-clap? Did she have to be made to stand in the middle of the line and hula with them?
Michelle Wie deserved better. She looked embarrassed and grossly uncomfortable, and the more she tried not to participate, the more she was prodded to keep going. I found it disgusting and degrading. The camera zoomed in for a close up, Ms. Wie smiled halfheartedly for the national audience—and the sponsors of the tournament, no doubt— and I ranted at the TV (and my husband, by extension, poor guy).
Had Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson ever been required to HULA?? On TV, as a winner of a tournament? I highly doubt it. And I feel quite certain, had anyone dared to ask it of them, they would have flat out refused. Why? Because it demeans their professionalism.
I wish Michelle Wie would have refused.The LPGA should have prevented it on her behalf. Seriously? A woman wins a golf tournament and is shown, not raising her trophy, kissing the sterling silver or cut crystal, but HULA-ING. Are you kidding me?
But then, the LPGA is apparently all about the tempest in a teapot. They recently decried the use of a scantily clad Pauline Gretzky to promote women’s golf on the cover of Golf Digest (see The Guardian article here), not so much because she’s scantily clad, but because, as stated by the LPGA Tour Commissioner Mike Whan, the LPGA wants their golfers to be the cover girls. Not a model who is the girlfriend of a male golf professional. One of their own.
Excuse me? So it’s okay to sexualize your game as long as it’s being done by members of your association? Is that what you’re saying LPGA? Put ’em on magazine covers—wearing appropriate golf attire, I should hope, not a sports bra and capri tights—and then, when she wins, go for the close up of your champion doing the hula! Yeah, that’s what we’re looking for!
Don’t give me that crap about reaching an audience, or promoting your game. You know what? Men promote their game by excellence. By hitting the ball 275 yards, making a chip shot stick and spin back toward the hole, by showing steely nerves on the putting green. The svelte young guns and the pot-bellied, balding guys alike are lauded for their skills. But if you’ve got two X chromosomes, somehow you’ve got to sell your game with a whiff of sex and a spritz of pheromone perfume. Maybe a bit of cleavage and a coconut shell bra for good measure. ‘Cause…yanno…eyes. elbow-wink-nod
Am I being hypocritical because I write romance novels and romance stories? Some would say so. I cater to whiffs of sex and more than a spritz of pheromone perfume. I cater to—mostly—women who enjoy reading about relationships and sex and even sexual adventure. I’m promoting fantasy. I’m honest about it. I’m not trying to sell high literature by luring you to my stories with a peak of cleavage or six-pack abs.
I get it. Sex sells. It’s only that I prefer my professional athletes—both male and female—to show off their skills, their athleticism, their grace and beauty under pressure on the field of play. That’s alluring enough for me, and it’s certainly how the game should be promoted. The LPGA is filled with incredible golfers. If showcasing their skill sets is good enough for the men, it’s good enough for the women, LPGA.
Because if complaining about the use of a sexy magazine cover promoting your game one one week, and then making your champion hula for a TV audience the next isn’t hypocrisy, I don’t know what is.