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.. 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?