I have mixed feelings on this.
If running around playing football in your underwear feels empowering because you’re an athlete and a bit of an exhibitionist… go for it. As a derby girl, I love the exhilarating feeling of skating at top speed in tights and booty shorts. We feel confident in our bodies and the ability to wear what helps us skate best and enhance our personae on the track without trying to fit into a specific societal mold of what is expected of us.
If running around playing football in your underwear is empowering because of the effect it has on men (and some women) then it loses credit in my mind.
Lingerie football is hard to support because the sport comes across as being more about how they look when they play and whether or not anything will pop out (hence the reason many males claim to love catfights) rather than the game itself.
I’m all about empowerment of either sex. But if it is about glorying in the effect you have on men (and some women), you cheapen yourself and perpetuate the idea that one of the best things about women is the way they look. This is damaging in two ways:
- Personally – Victims in our society are often judged based on surrounding circumstances. We try to believe the Innocent Until Proven Guilty, but it forces us to take into consideration whether or not the criminal is entirely to blame. As we weigh the factors, we often fall into victim blaming. We judge the accused by their actions but attempt to understand what factors caused those actions. Sometimes we get lost in the victim judgements. This is especially disastrous for victims of sexual crimes like rape or harassment. “Well, how could she expect otherwise if she dressed / acted like that?” (e.g. Jenn Sterger of the Favre harassment case appeared on Maxim several years earlier. (e.g. Comments of Ines Sainz‘s harassment noted her tendency to dress in tight clothes and flirt on the sidelines). However, by questioning a woman’s choices to walk alone at night or wear a mini skirt, we are suggesting that her attacker/harasser has no control over their own actions. By running around in lingerie, these women do themselves a disservice in the future. I would like to suggest that society should careful not to engage in victim blaming, but I have no faith that this will change in my lifetime. So, if one finds herself the victim of a sexual crime someday, what will protect her from those vocal people who will suggest she brought it on herself by not hiding such a temptation under layers of clothes? Let me be clear that I do not think women who dress or act in certain ways are at fault for the actions of others. I am simply stating that it sucks that those factors will often be held against her by the oh-so-moral society.
- Genderwide – By focusing on women’s bodies in a sport rather than the sport itself, we reduce women to the sum of their looks. Not everyone on this planet is educated, open-minded, and appropriate. Imagine watching the game. Can you see the strength in the leg or arm of an athlete as they skillfully bolt down the field? Can you imagine the strategy and aggression of the players? Football an incredible game. If some fans decide to ignore the action of the sport in favor of the sexiness of women, they are making a personal decision. However, if their comments and actions suggest that to do so is accepted and approved, what message will that send the next generation? It is only by challenging these ideas that we promote acceptance and respect of all. Creating equality among all people is not just about how we as individuals handle specific situations but how we work as a society.
Alright devil’s advocate. Your turn. 😉