Sports Illustrated Cover Girl Hannah Davis: Feminist?

This is what a feminist looks like, or something (entertainment

This is what a feminist looks like, or something (entertainment

More on Hannah Davis and Her Itsy Bitsy Swimsuit

Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Hannah Davis (who has been discussed here by my collegue Charlotte Allen) is apparently not content to shock Americans by so fully sharing her “plus size” — read healthy-looking — figure. No, she’s decided to take on critics of her lascivious Sports Illustrated cover shot, in which she’s removing her bikini bottom. Davis charges that her critics are not feminists:

“There’s controversy every year, so I think it’s kind of just silly that they’re making it out to be the big thing; I mean it’s the swimsuit issue,’ Davis said. ‘There are far    more scandalous pictures in the magazine if you open it up. It’s a girl in a bikini, and I think it’s empowering; I’ve been hearing it’s degrading. I think the people who are saying that aren’t feminists, because I think when you’re a woman and you look at that picture and if you overanalyze it as anything more than just a full picture, it’s just silly to me.’ 

Now, it may be that Davis’ critics are not feminists. But how is she defining feminism?

Davis’ definition seems to equate feminism and women’s empowerment with women’s near nudity and the power to turn on men, virtually all of them strangers, with a provocative picture. Is this what American women sacrificed for a century ago? Is this what Ayaan Hirsi Ali would recognize as the vital work of the feminist movement? Clearly not.

No one should be surprised that a woman motivated to pose for Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue finds the idea of flaunting her figure appealing — but a feminist act? Really?

A psychology professor at Princeton conducted a study several years ago that demonstrated that “in men, the brain areas associated with handling tools and the intention to perform actions light up when viewing images of women in bikinis.” In other words, bikini-clad women prompt men to literally objectify, and dehumanize, them.

Hannah Davis may want to think this through. I, for one, would rather be respected for my mind and character than reduced to one raunchy photo.

This post appeared on the Independent Women’s Forum blog.

2 Responses to “Sports Illustrated Cover Girl Hannah Davis: Feminist?”
  1. Tania says:

    And now it’s so sad that this same woman is hosting a show with kids teenagers… what kind of example is she?

  2. steven kaplan says:

    The pose–pulling down one’s knickers–seems such a blatant “come-on,” an invitation to sex. Ms. Davis exhibits little understanding of feminism. In an age in which pornography is so easily accessible and familiar to people at a very early age, a certain jadedness sets in. A “what’s the big deal” shrug accompanies the sharing of lewd images, or the ubiquitous nude selfie. Unfortunately, we live in a culture in which some people look to models for life advice…With so many fashion models releasing nude images of themselves one wonders if they now aspire to be erotic models. This continues that blurring of lines between fashion and art versus pornography. This celebration of self, done with the interior knowledge that many viewers will be “pleasuring themselves” while viewing these images, seems a negative trend within the larger culture. While having the pendulum swing back to the repressive Victorian era is hardly the solution, some moderation is essential. some corrective. Every time I read about some celeb/model/actress championing the “Free the Nipple” campaign I think that Malala must be weeping. In a world full of woe and causes truly worth our attention and energy, we glom onto the most superficial concerns.

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