It disgusts me more every year.
I speak of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, which is published the middle of February every year.
I’m not the only one disgusted. Other folks, such as those in the American Decency Association (ADA), often criticize the publication.
“Sports Illustrated disrespects women by displaying demeaning stereotypes of female sexuality,” says the ADA’s website. “The swimsuit issue features women models posed not as athletes of strength, skill, and endurance but as playthings …”
That is surely true, but here’s what is also true: We men are also being exploited.
Look, it’s the middle of winter. We men have suffered a few weeks without football. With free time on our hands, we find ourselves lost in self-examination.
We fret over our winter flab. We wish we’d chosen different career paths. We fear we’ll never amount to anything worthy.
The Sports Illustrated people understand our woes.
They know we’re down in the dumps. They know we’re vulnerable. They know we’ll cough up our hard-earned dough for a momentary escape to exotic beaches, where we can pretend to prance about with bikini-clad babes.
Every year, the swimsuit issue uses the same formula to exploit us: stunning babes who roll around in the sand, dance on the beach and cling to their skimpy duds and curvy parts as they are hit by waves.
Sure, in our overly sexualized culture, these female models may be suffering exploitation, but they surely come out of this arrangement better than we men do.
Many of the women who pose for the magazine are thrust into supermodel status. The ones who make it onto the cover earn a fortune in endorsements. And many of them go on to date and marry some of the world’s richest men.
But what do we average fellows get? We get the satisfaction of knowing that we’ll never marry, let alone talk to, such knockout beauties.
That makes us even more depressed.
So we go to cheesy restaurant chains where waitresses wear short shorts and low-cut shirts and exploit us all the more.
The coy lasses touch our arms delicately. They give us flirtatious glances. They talk softly and sensuously, the way women do when they know men are about to hand them gobs of money.
One of my poor, baldheaded friends falls for this ruse several times a month.
Despite being coated in hot-wing sauce and stale beer, he is convinced his waitress likes him. His waitress encourages this fiction and is rewarded with a 50 percent tip.
I think I speak for average fellows everywhere when I say I resent that.
I resent that some women deliberately target us for our money and are exceptionally good at parting us from it.
I resent that some waitresses can so easily take advantage of hapless, simple-minded men by plying us with a few lousy beers.
I resent that Sports Illustrated packs its swimsuit issue with photos of the most physically beautiful women in the world, knowing that’s all the magazine has to do to get us to buy it.
Yeah, our culture places way too much emphasis on physical beauty. Young girls are taught by the media that the chief way to win a male’s attention is through provocative clothing.
None of this is good.
And neither is it good for my middle-aged, hair-challenged friends to be taken advantage of by big media outlets and big restaurant chains.
That’s why I am so disgusted this time every year — as I thumb through my Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue.
Tom Purcell is a nationally syndicated humor columnist. This column is an excerpt from his book “Comical Sense: A Lone Humorist Takes on a World Gone Nutty!”