Do you Think They Practice in These Uniforms?

With a nod to the thesis of Ariel Levi’s Female Chauvinist Pigs, (quite an interesting read by the way) I present you with images of the players in the Lingerie Football League:

I am sorry but WTF? Really! Is this how women athletes expect to be taken seriously? It is images like these that prove I will never be a third-wave feminist. (I am talking about this a lot lately, aren’t I?) I might wear make-up and love it or occasionally feel sexy in some sassy/naughty/sexy attire (pick the term that most satisfies), but I will never see this show of skin as anything but a mockery of female empowerment. Not to mention the fact that I would be hard pressed to call fully dressed football empowering – I am thinking about ideas that are similar to my recent post regarding mothering – which included a little Simone de Beauvoir diatribe – football is a staged enactment of violence – much like the less staged Roman gladiators.  This staged “football” violence is interested in dominance, not equality or peace. It is a game constructed in a violent framework, which teaches domination and destruction as the desired goal.  Literally the goal of a foot ball game is to “beat” the other team, to win, to prove your domination over them. Traditionally associated with hegemonic masculinity and patriarchical mastery, domination represents a false road to empowerment because it is about individual success rather than equality.I know this may seem a little heavy-handed – but I can’t help myself. There are even moments when I see football – much like basketball – as continued reinforcement of the horrifying sexist, racist and almost suicidal elements of hegemonic masculinity. No one seems to care that football has been linked to the early onset of dementia, sexual assault  (second article on this), and increased sex trafficking.  Despite its violent nature, football plays the role of  a masculine right of passage in many American communities.

My mother (and favorite feminist) sent me a link to an article by Natasha Thomas-Jackson last night. In the article entitled “Why I like my Feminism Gray,” Thomas-Jackson writes:

The ultimate goal is to create a world where women can be whatever they want to be, whenever they want to be it, without limitations imposed by gender and sexism. I think that any idea, institution, or person that tries to deny a woman this full range of expression is an enemy to feminism.

Looking at this quote the rest of the  article it is clear that Thomas-Jackson is a third wave feminist – and obviously women should “whatever they want to be, whenever they want to be it, without limitations imposed by gender and sexism,” but the question is do we live in a world where that is possible?  Or are we so contained and constructed by the social moray of our particular cultural groups that we have never genuinely ventured to know what would allow us to be  free of the “limitations imposed by gender and sexism.” I would guess but I can’t say for sure, that the women pictured above enjoy what they do and are appreciated for it  but why are they appreciated. Is it because they are great athletes? hot bodies? genuine intellects? individuals? Or are they just objects – jokes in comparison to their male counterparts?

But mostly, Really!@??? Gross.

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5 responses

  1. Although I agree that basketball (and most professional sports) participate in institutionalized racism and perpetuate masculinist and heteronormative attitudes, I do think that the NBA deserves some credit for the establishment of the WNBA. No other major, professional, team sporting organization has invested in women in this way, and WBNA players don’t have to wear lingerie. (They don’t have much of a following, either.) My husband and I tune into games and enjoy seeing little girls in the stands – usually with their dads.

  2. Ann Marie –

    Point well taken regarding the WNBA – clearly the establishment of the WMBA acknowledges that women play sports at a professional level – also, I agree, female basketball players and attendance to female games can have a positive influence on young women.

    But what are you noting when you note the WNBA’s lack of fans? Are you saying that playing sports in lingerie encourages fandom? (By the way, I am not sure how many fans the LFL has.) Obviously your parenthetical comment was a side note but it got me thinking – there are people who would argue that we should perhaps consider the bra and panties uniform a ploy to draw in viewers, which could ultimately result in an understanding of these women as hard core athletes. However, I can’t imagine that many will feel these football players represent a positive female image… that said – what is a positive female image?

    No matter how I look at this situation I feel like these women are being objectified – and commodified – that they are using their bodies as seductive weapons OR they are just unaware and uninformed girls, buying into the system which tells them that being liked and sexually desired by boys is the goal – i.e. an plain old example of naked-y girls locked in the razor sharp sights of the male gaze

  3. No one watches the WNBA because they can’t dunk. Also, no one wants to watch women acting like men. (“Really!@??? Gross.”)

    Men want their women to be just that. Women. That’s why lingerie football leagues will likely generate 10X more fanfare than professional leagues like the WNBA. The skill levels/athletic abilities are all but nonexistent, so at least this way men can look at some hot chicks! (to clarify, I am not attempting to justify this behavior, I am merely pointing out the facts)

    It’s arguable as to which groups are further degrading themselves (and harming women in general). Is it women with no dignity allowing themselves to become sexual objects of men’s lust? Or women who have decided that women (and femininity) aren’t good enough and they need to act like men?

  4. Pingback: A good review. « Sexism Today

  5. You said it perfectly! Your post and reply. please sign our petition to stop Mortaza and the LFL from forming their franchise in Australia next year – http://www.change.org/petitions/stop-the-lingerie-football-league-in-australia
    These two games were only promotional matches, and they held tryouts for Australian women while they were here. Mortaza is no more than a pimp, he doesn’t pay the women or their medical bills, in fact, they have to pay to play, and he even pocketed 8 of the $10,000 for each player that posed for playboy??? White Ribbon Australia (against violence towards women) has denounced it; for the sexism, sexploitation and violence as well as our sports minister Kate Lundy. Mortaza’s response – having team Lundy t-shirts made for the promo games.
    A spy was sent in to the tryouts and it’s all as bad as you and I and so many others believe it to be http://freedomfrompornculture.wordpress.com/2012/06/11/try-outs-for-lingerie-football-league-australia-verbal-abuse-and-repeatedly-called-pussys/ And the clauses are outrageous, no sportsman would ever play such a violent game under these conditions, contracts and blatant sexploitation ‘Lingerie Football League: what it’s really about and do we want it in Australia?’ xyonline – men against sexism website
    The LFL is vile on all levels, and I so agree with you, no matter what the players say – this is not, in anyway, empowering for women.
    The crowd for both matches consisted of a majority of young men salivating and some people even took children??
    It is gross and the comments after the games on the LFL facebook page were indicative of the crowd with comments like – “I want to cum on their faces.”
    Yeeeeuck!
    And you would not believe the positive mainstream news coverage they got while here????
    We have received vehement opposition from men who love the idea of, as one man stated, “the closest we will get to live stadium porno.”
    Enough! Silence is acceptance; we won’t be silenced by this or any other vulgar offspring of patriarchy.
    Love your blog by the way, and your writing style 🙂

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