George Graham

Americans Must be Easily Titillated if This Cover is Offensive

skierLook at the accompanying photo. What do you see? I see a young skier crouching as she takes off down some snowy slope. I do not see anything “provocative.”

I suppose that growing up in Jamaica – back in the bush – where I often passed young women bathing topless in the river, has immunized me to this kind of hair-trigger titillation. But according to Yahoo, the cover has sparked a “debate” because it is so “provocative.”

Here’s what a web site titled has to say on the “controversy”:

Vonn is first a GREAT athlete, but she also represents the norm of feminine attractiveness. The combination of athleticism and attractiveness make Vonn the likely poster girl of the US Olympic Team, and the media hasn’t disappointed in constructing her as such.

Not to be left out, Sports Illustrated is featuring Vonn on their Feb. 8, 2010 cover. Those of you who follow SI Covers, know that female athletes are RARELY featured on the cover.

Over the last 60 years researchers have shown only about 4 percent of all SI covers have portrayed women.

When females are featured on the cover of SI, they are more likely than not to be in sexualized poses and not in action-and the most recent Vonn cover is no exception.

“Sexualized poses”? Really?

Reminds me of an old joke. (I’m sure you’ve heard it but I’ll repeat it anyway.) This guy was taking one of those tests in which the psychiatrist asks what various ink blots bring to mind. Each time, the guy said the blot evoked some sexual scene. Exasperated, the psychiatrist said, “Man, you’re obsessive; everything I show you reminds you of sex.” To which the patient replied, “Me? You’re the one showing me all the dirty pictures!”

If that wholesome young lady reminds you of sex just because she’s bending over, you need to be locked away somewhere.

Still, the critics may be right when they claim the photo will inspire impure thoughts among some American men (and women?). American culture is overwhelmed by sex. “Provocative” images are everywhere. And just look at the ads! If there’s one thing you can be sure of here in the good ol’ USA is that “sex sells.”

But that’s not what depresses me. It’s the hypocrisy that makes me want to “beg de Lawd fe mercy.”

So many Americans are so very sanctimonious. They tut-tut, shake their heads and wag their fingers over the slightest hint of sexuality.

And it’s not just religious folks who protest. Feminists are even quicker to take offense when a woman is “portrayed as a sex object.” They’ve been yelling about the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition for decades.

My response to them is: If you don’t want to be viewed as a sex object, don’t dress like one.

As swimsuits get tinier, lipstick gets redder and necklines plunge deeper, it’s disingenuous to pretend that men should be pilloried for taking notice.

But even so, that picture of skier Lindsey Vonn doesn’t belong in any “debate” about “sex objects.” That’s just a healthy young athlete doing her thing, and I wish her luck at the Winter Olympics (scheduled for February 12-28 in British Columbia, Canada).

About the author


I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for