This is so the worst thing you're going to read all day.

by Shaker BrianWS, who may or may not become a full-time contributor someday based on his selection from an eight-sided box full of glimmering keys only one of which fits into two crumbling locks, one of which opens a door to Shakesville, and the other of which opens a door to a rip in the time-space continuum beyond which is a portal to the year 4072, where there are still no goddamn flying cars.

[Content Note: Misogyny. Image at link is NSFW.]

Shaker blusilva forwarded this Vanity Fair article to Liss, who forwarded it on to me, because I work in the horseracing industry and, as previously mentioned, horseracing is one of my favorite things in the entire world, while misogyny is one of my least favorite.

The article is a profile of jockey Chantal Sutherland that reduces her to female stereotypes and is accompanied by an image of her on a horse, naked. There's a lot to unpack here, so I'll just hit the high (low?) points and turn it over to you.

* You know who else I can recognize in the saddle in the middle of the race? LOTS OF JOCKEYS. And it's not because they're "feline" or "sensual" or that they get "impossibly low" (hint: all the good riders can and do). It's because Sutherland has a specific style, just like many of her male counterparts, but nobody talks about how they can pick James Graham out of a lineup in the middle of a horse race because he is essentially a sexy pussycat, but because when James Graham rides, guess what? He looks like James Graham!

* The whole middle paragraph is odd (and gross!) because of the frame that's already been set up by the image and first paragraph. Instead of its being about Sutherland as an individual, now it reads as: She is very good at reading a horse "because she loves them"—girls and their ponies, amirite?! Most riders love the horses—and many "can soothe [them] with purrs and stokes." Sutherland's talent beyond the reins isn't because she's a sensual lady cat who can obviously relate to horses owing to her womanly nature. Cooing and purring at a horse is not specific to her, nor is it specific to female riders at all, but once she's already been drawn as this silly caricature of a jockey whose feminine wiles underlie her success, the implication is that it's her soft touch, her feminine grace, her (INSERT LADY ADJECTIVES HERE!!!) that makes it worth mentioning.

* The funniest part, where funny = not funny, is that Chantal Sutherland is a badass. She's brave as fuck. She's got nerves of steels. She rides her ass off every time. And she does all of those things because she's a competent and successful jockey, not because her femaleness imparts some magical feminine horse whisperer advantage. (And when she loses, it's not because her femaleness is a disadvantage, either.) It's ironic that in a brief article that is (allegedly) about how brave and talented she is, she is reduced to nothing but a stereotype of feminine qualities that are commonly invoked in opposition to bravery and strength, as if those are what make her a good rider, and not the laundry list of things I just listed above. It's a gross disservice to her and to her abilities.

On a side (but not unimportant) note, I want to acknowledge that the article was written by Bo Derek, who is a HUGE advocate for thoroughbred retirement programs that find places for racehorses when they're no longer useful on the track, and our industry needs MANY more people like that. She is among the biggest advocates in the game for racehorses' wellbeing, so she get s forever kudos from me for that, in spite of the tenor of this article. I wonder if the article might have looked different in a magazine other than Vanity Fair.

[Commenting Guidelines from Liss: This is a thread about the insidious ubiquity of misogyny; please note that comments discussing the merits/ethics of horseracing will not only be considered off-topic, but will rightly be regarded as an attempt to derail a conversation about misogyny in media.]

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