My Mother-in-Law Says Bikinis Were ‘Imposed’ on Beach Volleyball Players

US Politics
on 19 Comments

At the risk of not expanding the boundaries of knowledge but just echoing every other American household, I want to report that my mother-in-law and wife and I just had an argument about the efficacy/necessity/rationale for the bikinis the women's beach volleyball players wear. My mother-in-law believes that the bikinis were "imposed" on the women long ago and the women just went along with it. For some reason, I took the other side and tried to make the argument for the bikinis. On ventilation grounds, on beach culture grounds. I pointed out that track costume approaches bikini. Approaches, but it's not the same, my mother-in-law said. Those are shorts. Hot pants, I said. My wife said that a one piece is much more comfortable than a bikini, as it holds you in many different directions. My mother in law and I agreed that ventilation is just too important to the competitors. None of us had any facts. There are probably a bunch of facts out there, on the internet. I said that the women chose to wear them because it made their game better, and continue to wear them for that reason. My wife said that by that analysis women should also choose to wear bikinis to work, it would make them more productive.

My wife just came back to the couch to resume the conversation. "What about the fact that the impetus for the Olympics in ancient Athens was purely sexual?" I think I'll leave it there…

19 Responses

  1. Leila Abu-Saba
    August 21, 2008, 1:12 pm

    I chewed over this at length on Dove's Eye View last week, and also on Daily Kos. Plenty of commenters piped up and they're still talking. Surfputah points out that the problem with Bush in the volleyball pit is the inequality of costume – he's clothed, they're naked, the power of the gaze, all that grad school stuff. (SurfPutah is at UC Davis, a hotbed of English lit theorizing)

    Even if the beach volleyball players really, really need to wear two pieces for ventilation, they don't *have* to wear two pieces that reveal ass cleavage. They could wear briefs. Board shorts. (Very Southern California).

    My inner Southern Lady emerged in force to proclaim that the office of the President deserves the respect of cover-ups. No person should be presented to the US president with ass cleavage revealed. Also, his handlers screwed up by letting him go in the practice pit – any man over 40 would look foolish cavorting fully clothed with bikini-clad women whose briefs are riding up their …. you know.

    Check this post for a picture of Misty May offering her bottom to Bush for him to slap. Bush is going for it but settled for brushing the small of her back with his fingertips. Very dignified.

    link to

    But your m-i-l is wrong, the uniforms were not "imposed" on those players. They asked for 'em and they choose how much to reveal.

  2. charles Keating
    August 21, 2008, 1:35 pm

    Off the top of my head, I always associated bikinis with the beach. They use to go in swimming in baggy full-body wool knit clothing, then came those tighter swimsuits like you see in films of 1950s beauty contests. Then the fuller bikinis a la Annette Funachillo (sic) & Frankie Avalon teen movies of the middle 60s; right up to the stuff our double gold girls wore when Shrub used his dignified finger to tap Misty. Wonder what Obama would have done if he found himself in the same spot? McCain, of course, would have slap her right on her tukas. He might even have just grabbed he ass–he offered his wife for some kind of
    sleazy contest on the campaign trail a few weeks ago…

    Maybe next time around China will put its underage girls in similar costumes.

    Weren't the original Olympics all guys? Greeks. Ha.

    I agree with the Inner Southern Lady regarding Shrub's photo op.

  3. LanceThruster
    August 21, 2008, 1:44 pm

    Didn't the ancient athletes compete in the nude?

  4. todd
    August 21, 2008, 1:50 pm

    I like the bikinis! What do the male volleyballplayers wear? Does anyone even watch them? God, I hope they don't wear speedos. I would suggest tracksuits for the men.

  5. otto
    August 21, 2008, 2:09 pm

    I think we are much more likely to see the One-State solution than the end of the bikini.

  6. Anonymous
    August 21, 2008, 2:14 pm

    "…they don't *have* to wear two pieces that reveal ass cleavage."

    They do! They do! Bebother you ugly girls! This olympics the ladies are incredible beautiful. It's the Kournikova effect: beautiful girls becoming track&field models, beautiful sprinters, pole vaulters, jumpers, beautiful swimmers (never saw so many), gymnasts, all of them selling sportswear (or playboy magazines)… in fact the men's competition is becoming irrelevant.

    And the great moment will be the women's long jump when the bikinis end up in an under-armpit pile up! Yeah!

    Get off skinny wraiths of fashion industry morbidity. Nothing is more beautiful than a healthy girl in action.

  7. Leila Abu-Saba
    August 21, 2008, 2:29 pm

    Hey, anonymous, no fair calling names and slamming women. I may be middle-aged and a cancer patient now, but when I was 30 I could have worn that same bikini and KILLED you with my charms. Men wept when I took off my clothes. So go fuck yourself, Anonymous, too cowardly to post your name. (I'll bet you're pretty homely yourself).

    This discussion is about propriety in the face of the leader of the United States. Women with killer bodies need to use their weapons with discretion, as do men with killer firearms. Just my humble opinion as a former Diana, now Juno. I love those athletes in their Athena/Diana incarnations. The equivalent deity in the Canaanite pantheon (my ancestry) was a goddess of both love and war. She was reputed to slay men with her sexual power. I always identified with her. No languid Venus for me. Go women!

    But cover up when meeting the head of state.

  8. Anonymous
    August 21, 2008, 4:34 pm

    "This discussion is about propriety in the face of the leader of the United States."

    No, it isn't! But you are a pain in the ass who thinks the world circles around your bellybutton. I happen to think you are a bore. Sorry, but your self aggrandizement, coupled with misdirected indignation and lack of humour adds to your abba-bubba persona boredom.

    And for your knowledge I'm an ancient creature in internet terms. We didn't have names in the begining, we were file transfer demons and protocols. I kept this way. It's more interesting than you think, being no one, anyone, along with other anonymous commenters.

    Now you keep your weeping men, your deity ancestry, your sheathed killer weapons. You have ruined our bikini thread as ugly ladies are wont to, and g-d knows there is little lightness in Mondoweiss.

    But dawn is comming and the olympic ladies will be around again… in their bikinis… life is good.

  9. MRW.
    August 21, 2008, 6:26 pm

    Phil . . . OT, but you gotta read this

    The Shmegege Vote: 2008
    link to

  10. D.
    August 21, 2008, 6:30 pm

    It's worth remembering that the two big American beach volleyball stars, in an interview, spoke of what they do out there as their job, not their sport. And they were proud of it, show business beinhg the only profession taken seriously in the US today.

    Although I'm sure it's different in different parts of the world, here in the US beach volleyball is completely commercialized–having come into existence essentially to fill up the programming voids created by the new cable channels like ESPN.

    (I find women's field hockey far more interesting than beach volleyball, but then I'm a leg man.)

  11. anon
    August 21, 2008, 9:53 pm

    I think your mother in law is correct.

    IIRC, the sport's ruling body imposed strict costume rules on the competitors, eg that the bikini would be no more than 2cm wide at the hip. This was done rather obviously as a cynical attempt to increase the 'exposure' of the sport.

    While they are at it, they should also ban that stupid neck-to-knee swimsuit fad. I dont suppose I care what the guys wear, but the women should definitely be wearing as little as possible.

  12. chimpsky
    August 21, 2008, 9:58 pm

    i've often heard that in the ancient games the athletes competed in the nude.

    link to

    would it be fair to say then that the bikini is a step in the direction of … traditionalism?

  13. patrick
    August 22, 2008, 12:41 am

    There is a Croatian high jumper named Blanca Vlasic. Be sure to check her out.

  14. Doppler
    August 22, 2008, 1:22 am


    Your blog is great, but it wasn't built on your relationship with your mother-in-law. :-)


  15. LeaNder
    August 22, 2008, 6:41 am


    I pointed out that track costume approaches bikini. Approaches, but it's not the same, my mother-in-law said. Those are shorts. Hot pants, I said.

    None of us had any facts. There are probably a bunch of facts out there, on the internet.

    Actually the history of the Bikini is quite interestíng. And I wonder if the time frame of its re-invention and Beachmania, the combinaton of volleyball and fashion, is just a coincidence. I am somehow with mother-in -law and wife on this issue. I can't imagine women freely decided what to wear in the 1950's. Maybe in the 30's or 40's, who had very different female role models. The 1950's has the role model, beauty queen/mother, to simplify, ;)generalize;) slightly. These are carefully planned events … Were women involved in the planning, the PR? If somebody shows me, I'll change my mind.

    Bikini History

    1950s – Beachmania

    The beginning of "Beachmania": Beach Volleyball becomes an entertainment show with Beauty Contests included in the official program.
    Parks & Rec Bernie Holtzman and Gene Selznick win an event that features Greta Tyson, star of "Pajama Tops", as Queen of the Beach. Beach volleyball becomes more than a sport; it turns into a real show.

  16. Judy
    August 22, 2008, 9:53 am

    FYI, the male beach volleyball players do NOT wear speedos. They wear big, baggy, NBA-ish shorts and jerseys.

    I cry foul!

  17. Anonymous
    August 22, 2008, 12:22 pm

    "Your blog is great, but it wasn't built on your relationship with your mother-in-law." :-)

    Doppler, unfortunately more and more the blog is being built on Phil's relationship with Richard Witty, the zigzagzionist, and that bodes doom to Mondoweiss. With so many excellent anti-zionist commentators it's a pity no intelligent being of zionist persuasion was found to spice Mondoweiss.

    I see the big vampire is fond of a femoral artery… that's what women's liberation has done to the underworld: as the length of the skirts shortened it got harder to keep the eyes on the carotid. Brrr…

    "I cry foul!"

    Me too, they should wear tuxedos or, if they were real men, full plate armour… and the ball should be a cannonball with spikes… and I wouldn't watch it anyway!

  18. LeaNder
    August 22, 2008, 12:34 pm

    I cry foul

    Absolutely Judy, absolutely. We demand that the male in beach volleyball is presented equally alluring to the female gaze. A fig leave would be quite enough. ;)

  19. LeaNder
    August 22, 2008, 3:34 pm

    At least two huge blunders caught my attention above. Maybe I better shut up for a while.

    Not "who" but "which"

    and not "fig leave" but fig leaf.

    deeply ashamed ;)

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