Au revoir podium people!

Podium girls are a cycling tradition, a very bad tradition.

What’s a podium girl?

Wikpedia says this: “Podium girls, formally known as “Tour hostesses” (French: hôtesses du Tour), are women who are best known for presenting prizes and kisses to the winners of the Tour de France and other major cycle races, including the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España. In the Tour de France, a team of four podium girls is employed by the race’s main sponsor, the French bank LCL S.A..[1] They are responsible for entertaining clients of the sponsors before the morning departure of the race and in parties after the end of the race, but their most visible and prestigious role is in the award ceremony at the close of each day’s racing. The job requires working long hours in all weather conditions but is well-paid and sought-after, with candidates selected on the basis of their looks, endurance, personalities and linguistic abilities. Although they are forbidden to interact with the riders, other than kissing them in the award ceremonies, several podium girls have ended up marrying cyclists. The employment of podium girls has prompted a certain amount of criticism about sexism in professional cycling, though current and former podium girls have defended their role as part of the sport’s traditions.”

I’ve written about them before, arguing that it’s time we said goodbye to podium girls.

What about women racers? Well, it turns to address that problem race organizers have added podium boys to the mix.

Not everyone is happy with this solution. In Podium boys are no better than podium girls Anne-Marije Rook argues that this isn’t the best way to go.

Yet we seem to forget all that when two handsome fellas walk on stage. The objectification is the same, even when the genders aren’t. We are still using human beings as pretty objects. To me, having male podium hosts at women’s events is not a gesture of inclusivity. If anything, women are being appeased and what’s worse, it’s furthering heteronormativity.

I think I agree. Though I’m not sure objectification is the real issue. Sometimes what’s sauce for the goose isn’t sauce for the gander. It’s a weird kind of symbolism even if you take away the sexism, and the heteronormativity. Suppose as the winner you got to choose your pretty person for an on stage kiss? It’s still odd. “Here, you’re fast and you’re the winner, have a pretty person and a kiss.”

What do you think? Is it enough to add podium boys or should cycling do away with the tradition of podium people? 

 

 

About Sam B

Philosopher, feminist, parent, and cyclist!

10 thoughts on “Au revoir podium people!

  1. Jean says:

    She looks abit embarrassed to be kissed by guys she doesn’t know.
    The cycling world should think of an entirely different gesture of congrats….if someone will get around to it.

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  2. I know it’s bad & all …. I agree with you, I really do … bur it kinda looks like fun.

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  3. I wonder if it’s not just cycling tradition….but European tradition that we should consider? My father in law is 100% Greek, but born and raised in the US. That man kisses everyone! Perhaps this was born out of something we don’t understand and not necessarily something sexist? Just a thought.

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  4. Ifi says:

    I think we should get rid of podium people. If it were just good congratulations, then why is there a need for it to be attractive people? Also, it certainly does assume that the winner wants to be kissed by someone of the opposite sex after working their asses off to win a race. This “tradition” seems to promote the idea that hard physical effort deserves a prize of flesh. I, for one, do not want to continue supporting a tradition which sexualized physical effort. Why not give the winners a handshake by the race directors? Why is there a need for podium people to begin with. Why do the sponsors need entertaining by attractive people? Isn’t that creepy to anyone? So are those people like escorts? (Not saying there is anything wrong with escorts expect there is certainly a why does bicycle racing need escorts and again back to the whole sexualizing theme.)

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  5. ifisusana says:

    I think we should get rid of podium people. If it were just good congratulations, then why is there a need for it to be attractive people? Also, it certainly does assume that the winner wants to be kissed by someone of the opposite sex after working their asses off to win a race. This “tradition” seems to promote the idea that hard physical effort deserves a prize of flesh. I, for one, do not want to continue supporting a tradition which sexualized physical effort. Why not give the winners a handshake by the race directors? Why is there a need for podium people to begin with. Why do the sponsors need entertaining by attractive people? Isn’t that creepy to anyone? So are those people like escorts? (Not saying there is anything wrong with escorts expect there is certainly a why does bicycle racing need escorts and again back to the whole sexualizing theme.)

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  6. Podium people just seems like a very strange tradition either way. I agree there should not be “pretty people” to kiss after a cycling ceremony it does seem to be very objectifying . On Apr 11, 2016 2:27 AM, “Fit Is a Feminist Issue” wrote:

    > Sam B posted: ” Podium girls are a cycling tradition, a very bad > tradition. What’s a podium girl? Wikpedia says this: “Podium girls, > formally known as “Tour hostesses” (French: hôtesses du Tour), are women > who are best known for presenting prizes and kisses to the wi” >

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Wonder what the participants on the end of these kisses really think, if they were asked the question , podium people or no podium people?
    Care factor zero I reckon, they have just won the biggest event of their lives, all the training, injuries, etc endured just to get to race let alone win. Podium kisses and champagne in their eyes take it or leave it?
    Podium people on the other hand, well this is the biggest occasion in their lives too, they’ll take it any day of the week.
    Spectators, even if we do squirm and think what a waste of Champers, at the end of the day everyone’s a winner.

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