Day 5. Women's Beach Volleyball. The feminist side of my brain was egging me on to complain before I even arrived. I was about to sit through three hours of a male dominated audience ogling at toned women bending over in their ready position. The fantasy of perving on big bummed beach babes had been welcomed to the Olympic arena; the days of subtly looking over your sunglasses on the beach is long gone. Now everyone can have a good old look. Glorified beach holiday antics has been well and truly welcomed to Horse Guards Parade.
The event played up to every single preconception I had. As I sat down the crowd was already doing the clap-clap-pause to 'We Will Rock You.' The screens were displaying the types of phrases I'd expect after completing a high level on a dance-mat: "make some noise!", "get up a dance!", and "score!" There were even intervals where a fully fledged dance group (full of bikini clad women) would perform some highly energetic dance numbers fit for a musical to a mash-up of Beach Boys songs. They were pushing their big boobs into the sand and rolling around suggestively with flowers in their hair. It was all a bit obvious. But, I guess that's part of the enjoyment. No surprises, just being delivered what you paid for.
After the women starting to play the game and win points, the song choices got more suggestive. There were numerous slow-motion replays of the best looking girls diving for the ball and the camera as if by magic managing to get right underneath their lady parts to capture a zoomed-in cellulite-free bottom hurtling through the air revealing a half wedgie and a sandy bare bum cheek. Whilst this replay was being gawped at the music player boomed Tinie Tempah's recent hit 'Frisky' and Guetta's 'Damn You A Sexy Bitch'.
Where am I? I asked myself. Am I in a night-club? Am I back at University? There are some drunk teenagers in fancy dress next to me, beer being spilt down my back, half-naked women wiggling their bottoms to dance music and there are some interesting chat-lines being trialled and tested in the row behind me. Perhaps this is the best Olympics event to come to if you are trying to pull? Should I have put some perfume on this morning? Is there a DJ, and more importantly, can we request songs?
The farce continued as other intervals included a montage of the best 'touchy-huggy' moments from the beach volleyball matches. We watched a five minute clip of the best arse-slaps, thigh grabs, boob-pressing hugs, bromance man cuddles and some loving high-fives. This game is handsy, with any excuse to grope your partner, it seemed. The young high-pitched female presenter then screeched into the microphone demanding that we now 'hug the person next to us! Go on! Hug a stranger!' This brought me back to those awkward moments at the end of a musical when you have to stand up and read the song lyrics that the cast are holding on a big poster for the grand finale sing-a-long. I hid in my seat and watched the four Swedish men on the row in front of me (each dressed up as an oversized moose) start hugging anyone that would let them. They were loving it.
I wanted to whinge about how it's quite clear that sex sells and that the tickets were expensive/sold out because you get to grab a beer and look at girls writhing around on the sand for three hours. I wanted to write about the sexualization of girls that still exists in so many industries just like the music videos that are still being made where they are allowed to oil up women's backsides and slap them in day time TV. I still think it was a bit disrespectful that our Team GB girls were splashed around in FHM. But, like all things in life, you can choose to be offended, or you can just have fun with it. On this occassion, I chose the latter.
Despite the great morning I had, the one thing I can't ignore is the blatant fact that this is an event completely tailored for men. It was all for the men. My plea for next year: if the men are allowed to gawp so openly at the women, please can we get the male volleyball players to stop wearing full t-shirt and shorts? There was a tall Brazilian player who I definitely wouldn't have minded watching play in revealing beachwear.
All in all, this event was one not to be taken seriously, and if you were going to get genuinely offended, you'd probably be a bit silly to go in the first place.