Thanks to Sheila and the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence blog for letting us reprint this LOL post on Bachelor Pad vs. Finland’s World-Wide Wife Carrying Competition..
Sheila Johnson directs the violence prevention program at Women’s Center of Rhode Island and teaches part-time courses in literature and women’s studies for the University of Maine’s distance education program. Her favorite writer is Jeanette Winterson and her favorite celebrities are Owen Wilson, Woody Allen, Emma Thompson, and Carl Kasell. Sheila is a blog team member for Women’s Fund of Rhode Island and guest blogger for the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence. She attends the UMass Boston Women in Politics and Public Policy graduate program.
Remember the good old days when a woman found a husband by hanging around the village until Mr. Right threw her over his shoulder, and carried her into the night? You are probably shaking your head and saying, “Thank god that barbaric practice no longer exists!” Or does it?
For the past sixteen years, Finland has held the World-Wide Wife Carrying Competition (WWWCC). Last month, 47 couples from 10 countries competed in front of 6500 spectators. Husbands carry their wives for 250 meter race over obstacles, including a water jump. The prize: the winning wife’s weight in beer. Men, competition, women’s bodies, and beer, need I say more about its popularity?
The Finns acknowledge that the practice is rooted in male dominance and violence (they don’t actually use these words), but the sport has taken on a more self-conscious irony over the years. One of the competition’s many rules is that everyone must have fun. Watch this YouTube video and you will hear roars of laughter from spectators and contestants alike. What’s funnier than a man collapsing from the weight of a woman on his back? There is also a rule about the woman’s weight. She must be a minimum of 107 lbs. If she is any less, she can carry stones. The lighter the better? Wrong, the lighter the woman, the lighter the beer.
I had to ask myself is it okay to laugh at a practice that is based on a tradition of abduction and rape? In this case, for me, the answer is yes. The competition is fun and lighthearted. Everyone laughs. No one is being exploited. The women are fully dressed.
Last week, I saw something that reminded me of wife carrying on ABC’s “Bachelor Pad.” The season’s first episode featured “The Hook Up,” a competition where a man and a bikini-clad woman cling to each other while dangling 10-feet high. From the grimaces, curt complaints, and whining, it is clear the couple is not having fun. They are hot, sweaty, and in great discomfort. Arguments ensue as soon as the woman is dropped onto a bed. She’s too heavy, he is not strong enough. She squirmed, he was bored. She could have gone forever, he had no stamina.
In addition to the typical husband-wife bickering, the competition creates bitterness between the female competitors and envy between the males. It is everything the WWWCC is not. The Finnish version may be rooted in a bad tradition, but at least it is not encouraging stereotypes, flaunting women’s bodies, and portraying women as backstabbing bitches for the sake of fame and money. Did I mention the winning couple gets $250,000? Nothing fits better in the US than women in bikinis and money. I for one would prefer a keg of beer and a full-figured woman.
In case you are curious, Jake and Jackie won the competition at 35 minutes and 20 seconds.
(first printed on the ricadv.org blog)
(photos: wetpaint.com, blogcrimes.com, thebachelorpad.com)