Monday, December 13, 2010

Lingerie Football League--Really?

In all of my reading and researching as prep for the sports lit class I'll be teaching in the spring, I happened upon the Lingerie Football League, or LFL. Initially I thought it was a joke, but after an hour of reading the website, I realized the "True Fantasy Football" league is no joke at all.

While reading and making my usual snarky comments, Hubby started perusing the same site. His reaction was much different than mine. While I see sexism and inequality, he sees scantily clad women, which brightens up his day. While I get angrier the more I see, he doesn't see what the problem is. At one point, he said, "Why are you getting so upset over this?"

Why? Really? Show me a men's team of any sport where the athletes are required to wear scanty briefs (even in swimming, most swimmers don't wear a speedo any longer). Show me a men's team of any sport where the number one requirement is to be beautiful. I'm pretty sure the number one requirement for any men's team is to be really, really, really good at the sport. So the answer to Hubby's why is there actually are many women who'd love to play football professionally, but they can't unless they strip down do their underwear and show off their boobs and booty. Please.

The idea that having women playing in their underwear will make them "marketable" is basically saying in a coded way that the commissioner is a pimp and these women are his prostitutes. Yes, male athletes are marketed--but not in their underwear. I know of athletes who have stripped and posed for photos, posters, etc., such as Lance Armstrong, but he doesn't actually have to ride the Tour in the equivalent of a spanky. And I'd be very surprised if it was his manager/handler/whatever you call the person marketing you that required him to partake in this shoot. Most likely, Armstrong was approached with the idea and it was he who said, "Sure, I'll pose nude on a bike." He was the one in control. He could have said no. The young women of the LFL have no control over how they're marketed.

In the end, what options do women have if they want to play a sport that is for all intents and purposes closed to them? Unfortunately, they have to accept the terms connected to being able to play, terms designed by men, terms that devalue women, subject them to being objects that gratify men's desires.

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