Katherine Webb: The Cheerleader, the Quarterback and ESPN

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Katherine Webb should have been insulted, but she wasn’t. And that’s okay. Far be it from me to tell other people what their sensitivities should be, but… The thing is, I’m a guy and I have something to say on behalf of the other gender.

Katherine Webb Red Dress

Ms. Webb, the reigning Miss Alabama USA, the no-talent version of the Miss America pageant, is beautiful by virtually any standards. Personally, I prefer a slightly less perfect face and body, but that’s me. Notwithstanding my personal opinions of what is and what isn’t attractive, and as they used to say when I was growing up, “No one’s kicking her out of bed.” And that’s not a sexist remark. Back in the day, that was a heck of a compliment, but then times change, don’t they, which is the point of this piece.

In an interview with Matt Lauer on this morning’s Today Show, Ms. Webb graciously argued that she was not in the least bit offended by having been oggled at by Brent Musberger and the ESPN camera at yesterday’s Alabama/Notre Dame playoff. She didn’t mind be called “beautiful,” but might have objected to the use of “hot” or “sexy.” Hmm. I’m not sure I appreciate the distinction, but it’s hers to make.

In any case, it was expected that she wouldn’t be put off by objectification. She is, after all, a beauty queen herself who makes a living as a model. She is, in other words, in the beauty business, the business of being beautiful. She’s not an actress, or a doctor, entrepreneur or clerk at Target or any other professional who happens also to be beautiful. Being beautiful is how she makes a living.

So she wasn’t offended by all the attention. Far from it, it’s heightened her profile and is helping her professionally. But just between you and me, she should have been offended for an entirely different reason.

Brent’s drooling over her may have been a bit creepy, but it was his remarks to the effect that this is the kind of girl quarterbacks get that were more troubling. As they say in the world of text-speak, “OMG!!” Come on, Brent. Aren’t we past believing in the stereotype that the head cheerleader, only cares about going out with the quarterback? Past the assumption that if you’re an attractive woman (or man, for that matter), all your little brains can care about is going out with the school football hero? That beautiful women are only about beauty, and nothing else?

I don’t know Ms. Webb, but she seems at least reasonably bright. Maybe the fact that her boyfriend is the quarterback isn’t the point. Maybe, who knows, she goes out with him in spite of his celebrity. (Wow, there’s a scary thought.) Maybe there more to her, and her boyfriend too, than the distraction of their physical good looks are allowing our media nation to appreciate.

In any case, on behalf of women everywhere, my wife and daughter in particular, I’m offended, even if Ms. Webb isn’t.

By the way, more than a few years ago I met and fell in love with a beautiful blonde. Beautiful, really intelligent and funny, with a smile that still turns my usually organized brain into mush. I’m sure, if she had been interested, she could have had any football player, pretty much anybody she wanted, but, unbelievably she took a liking to me and I’m pretty much as dorky a guy as you’ll ever meet. Unbelievably, she said “Yes” to me, and I can’t tell one pointy end of a football from the other.

Is this a great universe, or what?



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