This morning, there was an OpEd piece in the USA Today. The headline read: “NFL cheerleading is demeaning to women.” I had to laugh a little bit at the headline — “demeaning to women.” Hmm. Do ya’ think? The article, written by Tom Krattenmaker, was very good, from start to finish. He talked about all the obvious things. The #MeToo movement, and the lingering beauty-pageant swimsuit competitions. And all.
But let’s sidebar for a moment. I still can’t stand the hashtag. If you want to scour a search engine for a particular term, use a hashtag. It is that simple. That is the way of the Internet. Sort of akin to, if you want to live — breathe in, breathe out. There is really no need for people to plaster the hashtag on every word they write, or every movement they start. Just like we don’t need tattoos on our foreheads saying, Breathe In, Breathe Out — as we stand dull-wittedly, gazing into a mirror. Okay, Hashtag Rant over.
Back to bare butts and bosoms. The cheerleaders. I have long been a naysayer when it comes to cheerleading. I didn’t see much sense in it from the time I was in the second grade. My sister was on the eighth-grade squad. I can remember telling her I thought it was stupid. I can then remember getting slapped across my little second-grade face. It was my first try at an OpEd piece. Epic fail.
I didn’t let go of these notions. In high school, I was embarrassed for them. Often times, I felt sorry for them. Albeit, they were not as scantily clad as the NFL Cheering Squads. But they were scant. While the rest of the world was bundled up tight to watch the football games, our cheerleaders were bare-legged and bare-armed, with only their trusty Pom-Poms for their defense against the bitter cold. But there they cheered. Whether we were the “favorites” or the “underdogs,” we’d still win or lose the games, despite those valiant efforts.
The NFL is the worst. My team, The Pittsburgh Steelers, do not have cheerleaders. I love this about the Steelers. Nor do five other teams in the NFL, which include the Chicago Bears, the Buffalo Bills, the Green Bay Packers, the Cleveland Browns, and the New York Giants. All the rest have squads.
And those cheerleaders are completely objectified. The management hires slim, sexy, young performers for the sidelines. They put them in LESS-than-bikini-sized-costumes. And they don’t really cheer as much as they perform “routines” which involve bumping, grinding, shaking, and twerking. I went to a strip club once, where a friend was the bartender. The two activities – pole dancing and NFL Cheerleading — looked about the same.
This year, male dancers will be included in some teams’ repertoire. It doesn’t matter the sex of the person being degraded. The degradation continues to exist.
Why do we need this?
This is just another example of rich, white men in suits, asserting their power, in a world where their power reeks at every turn. We see it in the work industry, in sports, and in politics. We see it in marriages too.
From our very earliest beginning, the United States professed that “all men are created equal.” But since those words were written, we can’t seem to get it right. We can’t seem to get the job done. Even the Bible tells us this equality thing is so. According to those words, all of us – every single one – created in God’s image.
Yes. All human beings are created equal, but we certainly are not treated equally.
Perhaps we should ALL start doing our own cheering. For those discriminated against. For the objectified. For the Underdogs.
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. — Abraham Lincoln
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. — Chief Joseph
True equality means holding everyone accountable in the same way, regardless of race, gender, faith, ethnicity – or political ideology. — M. Crowley