Sisterhood Blog

Women Athletes Are More Than Breasts and Tuchases

By Allison Gaudet Yarrow

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I love the phrase that Sarah Seltzer uses in the previous post to give voice to the immature sexism found in some of this year’s Super Bowl ads: “women, ugh.” Maybe it’s more than just the ads — judging from a women’s half-time match up that competed with The Who for viewers, I’m beginning to think that, on some level, sexism colors the whole sport.

Sunday’s Super Bowl match up between the Indianapolis Colts and the New Orleans Saints was most watched event in television history. But on that same day another football game was being played … by 14 women … in lingerie.

The Lingerie Bowl is the championship game of the Lingerie Football League (LFL), which made news recently when it threatened to sue ex-players who claimed the league owed injured athletes medical expenses. Unsavory press aside, the league is made up of 10 teams with names like the LA Temptation, Philly Passion and Chicago Bliss. And yes, the fit-bodied players compete in their underwear — and particularly revealing, highly stylized underwear, at that. Attractiveness is not the only prerequisite needed; athletic prowess is important, too.

“We see that they are beautiful. But can they knock each other in the mouth? asks Mitchell Mortaza, founder and CEO of the LFL.

Bill Geist of CBS Sunday Morning did not hide his excitement reporting from the competition. The CBS segment aired before the game did; in it, Geist joshed, “We can’t divulge the winner … but the beauty of lingerie football is … most fans don’t really care!” (For those who do, Temptation overtook Bliss in the final, 27-14.)

The existence of this gimmick is disturbing, but what I find most sad is that many of these women truly love the game of football, and high-level, competitive options for female football players are few. CBS called star quarterback of the LFL Miami Caliente Anonka Dixon faster than Colts phenom Peyton Manning, and said she throws for 60 yards with “pinpoint accuracy.” In the interview, Dixon says that she wants to play football, but that she also wants respect — respect that isn’t likely coming.

Gender equity is an issue discussed in many arenas — from Orthodox day school classrooms to offices to athletics. Women shouldn’t feel excluded from praying the way they want to; they shouldn’t be barred from equal pay and benefits, and they shouldn’t have to remove their clothes to play a sport they love because no better framework exists. What has developed as a man’s game should not only be available to women who meet a certain standard of attractiveness. If Lingerie Football is meant to empower women, as one player suggests, then why can’t I open the official Web site at work? All girls should be so fortunate to grow up believing they can be anything, including football players. And there should be ways to play the game that don’t involve skivvies and push-up bras.



Comments
Dan Thu. Feb 18, 2010

Perhaps skivvies and push-up bras aren't the wave of the future for women. But, if you want to emulate the skintight glossy 70s retro disco glamor of the men's game, it certainly has to be something that highlights the fabulous. Apart from the sad labor repercussions and anti-union bigotry it will again stir up, I'm looking forward to the lockout because it will give the NFL an opportunity to experiment. Perhaps we could have mandatory women quarterbacks. Perhaps a squad limited to 20. Perhaps limited substitutions. Perhaps coaches who aren't allowed to communicate to their players except at timeouts and in between quarters. Perhaps continuous play.

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