First a woman, then a disabled woman, then a disabled woman who is a rower.

This image was featured in a Sports Illustrated article. It is an image with very high contrast between the light and dark areas. From the top it is a light blue background with white, puffy blotches all over, and below there is a jagged dark green area. Below the jagged green area, there is another blue area that is a bit darker and appears to have more texture. In the foreground of the photo, the center features a figure. The entire left side of the figure casts a shadow, and the right side is lit up by a light source coming from the right hand side of the frame. The figure is placed on wooden slats, next to a thin pole attached to another misshapen pole. The figure has light that accents the left side of what has features of a face with puckered lips. The light then draws the eye to a soft, limp-like limb placed on the thigh. The lower, center part of the figure has some dark spots that are hard to decipher further.  This limb then takes you down to the brightest part of the photo, the figures lower half with a small shadow that shows definition on the thigh.

The figure featured is a Paralympic athlete, Oksana Masters who rowed for the United States in the 2012 London Paralympics. In this image she is featured bare skinned, with a natural glow. The initial hint towards the identity of the subject featured in this photo is the rigger and oar positioned behind her. For anyone outside the sport this may be less obvious. The fact that she is bare skinned, with her lower half and chest area (only covered by the shade) combined with the position in which she is sitting speaks to some of the key concepts discussed in class.

Oksana is featured in a very feminine position, legs crossed, muscles not flexed with her head turned looking at the photographer. Although her reproductive organs are hidden, her stomach and thighs have light shinning directly on them. This light draws the viewer’s attention to the knees, calves, and feet that she does not have. Oksana is a Paralympic athlete, she has prosthetic legs that she competes with, and she also competes without them. As an athlete she is amazing, not just for a Paralympic rower but also for any rower. This photo takes away from that. It features her as a woman who is disabled and happens to be an athlete. This exemplifies the continued subordination of female athletes and their abilities. Women are constantly shown as women, mothers, disabled etc. all before they are shown as athletes. This photo could have been taken of her rowing or performing the sport in some way. Instead, it features her sexuality as a woman and nothing more. Women are still viewed as belonging in the private sphere of the world, and men belong in the public sphere. By placing Oksana in the center of the photo, bare naked in a very subtle, inactive position with a look on her face of subordination this photo exemplifies the continued objectification of women.


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1 Response to First a woman, then a disabled woman, then a disabled woman who is a rower.

  1. Sarah McCullough says:

    This image does embody a typical pinup pose featuring the body of a disabled woman, which seems to grant equity to people with disabilities only in so far as they can be equally objectified. And I hope we can work toward better equity and justice than that! I like that you point this out and would enjoy hearing more about how you see this relating to course materials as you mention in the end of the second paragraph.

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