Super Bowl cheerleaders’ bikinis spark stew over sexploitation vs
“I just watched the super bowl teams run on to the field between rows of women in ‘uniforms’ that are nothing more than a bra and undies. Isn’t it LONG past time to update this aspect of the game(s)? The cheerleaders are athletes, can they put some clothes on now? Or maybe the refs should be in undies, too?”
Most responses came from women who said they understood exactly how Brendmoen felt, that near naked cheerleaders seemed an outdated indulgence of male voyeurism, and that a sex show really needn’t be a part of football. But to others, Brendmoen’s complaint and especially her subsequent post of an “upskirt selfie” taken at an earlier Gopher’s game illustrating just how revealing some cheerleading uniforms are stank of “slut shaming.”
“In what other context is it socially acceptable to discreetly photograph another woman’s backside for the sole purpose of publicly shaming her and her choices online for ‘laughs?'” a local queer activist wrote to City Pages, declining to identify themselves because they know her personally and generally support her views.
“Even if you actually believed that no woman could ever make an empowered choice to include elements of her sexuality in her art . what part of harboring that belief would then make taking and sharing this image okay?”
“I guess I was surprised. It seemed too old school, something so part of the past and not where we are today in terms of women as athletes, women as equals,” she said of watching the game on Sunday. “It’s just so silly for me.”
Though her post referenced needing to “address” cheerleading in professional sports, Brendmoen explained that she does believe cheerleaders should lead whatever changes come to the NFL’s sideline performances. It seemed to her that, based on broadcasters’ decision to focus only briefly on cheerleaders, the tastes of America’s sports fans have evolved from wanting that sex appeal.
“Maybe there just isn’t the support for that that there used to be? It’s not so much admonishing what people are doing but more of . things evolve.”
Cheerleaders themselves have publicly offered their vision for a better relationship with the NFL: namely fair pay.
A slew of class action lawsuits in recent years have admonished the NFL for compensating cheerleaders with less than minimum wage, considering the many nonpaid yet mandatory rehearsals and public relations appearances members are expected to attend, all while the league made an estimated $14 billion in 2017.
The Raiders, Bengals,
Buccaneers, and Jets have collectively shelled out millions in backpay, along with guarantees of minimum wage pay. And a proposed class action last year by a former 49ers cheerleader alleging conspiracy among 26 NFL teams (including the Vikings) to suppress wages noted that NFL mascots, “who dress in oversized costumes and walk around the stadium during games just 10 times per year, with no discernable skill,” are paid $25,000 to $65,000 a year in additon to retirement benefits.
Although that suit was dismissed due to lack of evidence of conspiracy, another complaint from Buffalo Bills cheerleaders recently scored court approval to continue as a class action lawsuit.
The Buffalo Jills contend that they don’t receive any pay for games, practices, appearances at corporate and community events, and time spent teaching the “Junior Jills” program of basic cheerleading for young girls, even though the girls’ parents pay a $250 enrollment fee per child.
Other mandatory events the Jills are expected to work include the “Man Show,” where cheerleaders have to wear bathing suits while being “paraded around for the gratification of the predominantly male crowd . forced to endure lecherous stare and demeaning comments of a sexual nature,” according to the suit. As well as the “Calendar Release Party,” another bikini show where the Jills are provided no security or stage.