For years we at Outsports have gotten people complaining that we dare feature pictures of attractive male athletes in swimsuits or shirtless on Outsports. Yet over the last couple of days - heck, the last couple of years - I haven't been able to visit Sports Illustrated's Web site without seeing pictures of female models wearing the smallest swimsuits I have ever seen.
Did you see the cover of the print magazine (above)? That could just as easily be the cover of Hustler or Playboy. And the inside images - Not sure how image No. 129 of Kate Bock qualifies since the swimsuit is lying on the dock.
I don't judge Sports Illustrated for this. Men look at women, women look at men, women look at women and men look at men. That's the way it is. Yes, Sports Illustrated obviously focuses on one very specific kind of women - On Real Housewives swimsuit model Gigi Hadid talks about eating AN almond for a snack. We can certainly argue over whether it's healthy to be that skinny or not, whether it's moral to showcase only one body type or not.
But I just don't want to hear again about Outsports posting pictures of attractive male athletes on the site. Just take a look at the screen captures from CNNSI.com over the last couple of days. If you're going to come after us for it, I expect to see the same criticism levied against SI.
Actually, they deserve slightly more criticism, if any is to be made. Outsports always features actual athletes, almost always in their uniforms or natural dress (like the Australian athletes who enjoy a dip in the ocean after a workout). Sports Illustrated doesn't feature athletes in the issue, they feature models. Again, we don't think it's reason for criticism, it's simply of no higher calling than what we do.
The fact is, most of the criticism we hear is from other gay people angry that Outsports is contributing to the stereotype that gay men, well, like to look at attractive men. Buried within each of us, taught by years of anti-gay culture, is the idea that it's somehow worse for men to look at men than it is for them to look at women. That's the ingrained homophobia we all have to live with.
Yet as I said over a dozen years ago in a similar column, it's not a gay thing, it's a guy thing.