Aly Raisman Naked in Men’s Magazine As Sexual Abuse Survivor Therapy

There’s a few things important to remember when delving into the subtext of entertainment and athlete promotional statements regarding projects. First, that there’s a zero to negative correlation between highly accomplished young actor or young star athlete and education. It’s simply rarely a priority in the lives of people who’ve committed to time and energy all-consuming extra-curricular activities often since very young ages. Second, there are people around these stars who provide them horrible advice, feed them bad lines, and direct them like robots in order to often fulfill interests not in the best interests of their client, or son or daughter.

This may help to provide a less depressing examination of how former Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman wound up naked in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue explaining her bare poses and additional bikini poses as her defiant response to being sexually abused by evil Team USA doctor, Larry Nassar. Presume for a moment that Sports Illustrated and its corporate ownership group does not produce tomes filled with glamor photos of mostly naked women, to now entirely naked women, as a means to a high-minded end. The SI Swimsuit Edition has blossomed into a year round moneymaker for the otherwise ignored sports media outlet, accounting for a large part of its remaining business reason for being. There are a million and one magazines for women that at least provide more credible pro-woman cover for their underlying goals of selling tons of beauty and hygiene products. Revealing photos of yourself in Cosmopolitan has a different connotation than SI Swimsuit based purely on the demographic of the readership. With the former buying into your patently absurd rationale for being naked in the first place, and the latter largely a prurient visual aid for male masturbation.

If you want a prime example of the cynical and sexual exploitation of easily manipulated young women, look to Sports Illustrated utilizing their “female Swimsuit editor” to build a #MeToo front for numerous models and attractive athletes to get naked in their magazine covered in nothing but insipid Sharpie penned slogans on their body. Editor MJ Day will insist in all interviews that the female models chose their own empowering words. The models will repeat this “empowerment” of naked body mantra for naked photos on their social media accounts. But is anybody buying it? Not a single male sees women stripping down for naked floor photos as a power grab by the female subject. You’d assume most women see through this ruse as well. Are there any psychiatrists who’d recommend to their sexual abuse survivor clients to appear naked in a men’s magazine with your body as a billboard canvas? Google this up in leading psychiatric journals and see what you find.

SI has issued numerous press releases to assure people that Raisman chose the word “Survivor” herself to be written across her chest among her other printed body messages. This was followed with a statement from Raisman herself, to assure people this was all sexual abuse recovery standard operating procedure:

“I would like to remind everyone that being a survivor is nothing to be ashamed of, and going through a hard time does not define you . . . I hope that we can one day get to a point where everyone realizes that women do not have to be modest to be respected. We are free to draw confidence and happiness in our own way, and it is never for someone else to choose for us or to even judge us for that matter. For me, ‘In Her Own Words’ serves as a reminder that we are all humans, we are all battling something, and it is OK to not be OK. We are not alone and we need each other.”

The false conflation of the power to express oneself in the face of their oppressors and the decision to get naked in a swimsuit magazine remains a sticking point. Consider this move in contrast to Raisman’s powerful speech to Larry Nassar in person during the sentencing and victim’s statement phase of his sexual assault trial. Measure the symbolism of a tiny in stature women facing the insidious demon who molester her and one hundred of her female young teen peers. Compare and contrast that to getting naked on camera for a notoriously objectifying chicks-in-thongs magazine. Not that there’s anything wrong with any of that. The modeling or the viewing. All free choices of adults. Though not necessarily choices you put at the top of your meaningful accomplishments list.

In the article on Raisman put together by SI, the former Gold medal gymnast expands upon the notion that women don’t have to be modest in their person to be respectable. It’s a common straw-man argument raised by celebrity women these days to explain why their down-top selfies are akin to Eleanor Roosevelt taking stands for women in an age when prominent wives especially were told to be silent. It’s a lark. And a false narrative about the patriarchy. Men who dress and act immodestly are hardly lauded by society at large. There are few male social media stars in Spandex baring their six packs. Geraldo Rivera in a towel comes to mind. That made the entire digital world cringe. The Rock will make his pecs dance, for money. He knows better than to call his topless movie shots empowering.

Somewhere between the petticoats and trusses of subjugated genteel songbirds in cages and blatant implied full nudity of holding your own breasts in a sports magazine lies some broad expanse of middle empowering ground. As a for instance, a leotard hitting the vault and winning Olympic medals on international broadcast. Can you measure that empowerment against stripping down for a camera in a photo studio in Manhattan? Or are all manner of expression and performance equally enriching and praise-worthy? The decision to disregard public sentiment and the counsel of all others and do your own thing isn’t noble unto itself. The heroic backstories of not listening to anybody and creating amazing personal success are largely revisionist histories, if not random bits of luck. Breaking societal norms is often necessary, but when done merely to prove your rebel credentials, you typically wind up with a horrific predatory bird tattoo you’ll come to regret within two weeks of etching.

Fighting for the right to express yourself any way you choose and expressing yourself anyway you choose are not equivalents.