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Here’s an Issue Some View as Unsuitable

Women of the world, unite. How much longer are you going to put up with this? There must be something you can do about this. By now you must be positively sick and tired of this. The time has come for more of you to be heard about this.

I am talking about the single most insulting issue in women’s lives today.

The swimsuit issue.

Don’t you feel dejected? Don’t you feel disgusted? Don’t you feel degraded? Can’t you write letters to editors? Can’t you write letters to advertisers? Can’t you state your case to somebody ? You are woman. You are supposed to be able to roar. So, come on, already. Roar.

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The more silent you stay on this swimsuit-issue issue, the less it will remain an issue.

Am I the only liberal male who feels this way? Will red-blooded American men think me nothing more than a bleeding heart with an empty head, part scarecrow and part tin man? Will women mock me as well? Do women consider the swimsuit-issue issue a non-issue? Have women come to accept it as harmless, innocent fun? Shall I find myself labeled a wet blanket, a square, a wimp, a phony, a maker of much ado about nothing? Am I no longer--stand, turn, flex--a man’s man?

Look. I like my sports, and I like them illustrated. I like pictures. I like women. I like pictures of women. I am not misogynistic, homoerotic, homophobic, prudish, prurient or some sort of born-again palace eunuch. At a beach, I do not shut my eyes. At a mirror I do, but not at a beach.

The way I figure it, though, some periodicals ought to deal with swimwear, and others ought to deal with swim ming . One’s for shorts, and one’s for sports. Just as some magazines are for skin, and others are for skin diving. In my humble and possibly misguided opinion, the twain should never meet.

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But, the beach beat goes on.

Not only are the happy-go-lucky folks of Sports Illustrated bursting forth with another of their best-selling swimsuit editions, but they have even turned the thing into a glitzy, fun-filled special for cable TV--on the making of the swimsuit issue. No doubt we will be treated to documentary evidence of how the models clean sand from between their toes.

The February issue of Sport magazine also hit the stands recently. Proclaims the cover: “Hot Swimsuit Issue!” On the cover: Model Cindy Crawford, in a white bikini top and some sort of knotted bed sheet. Yes, that’s sport, all right. And fashion, too. All the women this year are wearing knotted bed sheets.

The February issue of Inside Sports magazine also hit the stands recently. On the cover: Actress Charlene Tilton, alias Lucy Ewing of the TV program “Dallas,” in a blue V-bottomed bikini. Yes, that’s inside sports, all right. Also outside sports. What a little athlete Charlene is.

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OK. There are a couple of things I do not understand.

One is the obvious one: What the hell do bikini bombshells on the beach have to do with athletics? If these editors wish to also cover recreation, let them rename their magazines, and further let them provide photographic layouts of chess players, card players, roller skaters and tourists.

Two, if the object of these “sports” magazines is truly to reveal the styles of the latest swimwear, why do they not at least consider asking accomplished swimmers and divers to model for them--Janet Evans, Donna de Verona, Kristin Otto, Kelly McCormick, Mary T. Meagher, Tracy Caulkins, Michele Mitchell and so on.

Three, where are the men? Don’t men wear swimwear? Where are Matt Biondi, Greg Louganis, Terry Schroeder, Mark Spitz? Women would shell out 3 bucks for these magazines, trust me. And, if they absolutely must pose professional models, go ahead, put a couple of hunksters out there. Put Jim Palmer in a Speedo suit. He has worn less. Put handsome men in hot little trunks out there. Boxers in boxer shorts. Jockeys in jockey shorts. Whatever.

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The January issue of Gentlemen’s Quarterly also had a swimsuit spread. GQ did feature some men, which was fine. Only, it featured some women as well. The very first photograph depicted a well-tanned man in the water, wearing spiffy red-and-blue trunks. He was shown kissing a woman in a green bikini. The bottom half of a green bikini. So much for equality. I guess GQ figured it was fair as long as both models were dressed alike.

Oh, well. You know as well as I do why these magazines do what they do. Sex sells. “Hot off the presses” is exactly what these magazines are. Hot stuff. Sports Illustrated will run a bunch of outraged letters in the issue that follows, without comment or regret. Some people will get a big laugh out of all the “Cancel my subscription,” “Oh, what filth!” and “I picked up your magazine in my dentist’s office and imagine my surprise!” mail the magazine gets.

Let’s put swimwear back in the Sears catalogue, where it belongs. I do not want to see a bathing suit in a sports magazine unless it is doing a butterfly. Women, I would like to see you do something about this. I just wish I knew what the hell you could do.


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