The Feminist Sports Fan: On Cheerleaders, By Cory Davis

male-cheerleadersCan you imagine a bunch of nearly-identical young men prancing around on the court at an NBA game wearing tight, tiny shorts reading “(X City) is a Sisterhood” on their asses? The antiquated-but-pleasant phrase “Boston is a Brotherhood” is tolerably benign given that I respect the place of capitalism to some limited degree. I can even respect the existence of cheerleaders, with the caveat that I think women have fought hard enough in the workplace and have enough interest in sports that the TOTAL lack of cheerleaders that might sexually appeal to a majority of us is more a result of ridiculous male aversion to male nudity than to women’s actual share of the pie. But I digress. I actually like (some of) the cheerleading squads at high school games, especially the rare ones that are co-ed. I can even get through an NBA telecast just fine, though admittedly I usually just get up and pee, grab a beverage, or enjoy some basketball banter with my man whenever the cheerleaders are onscreen. But to see a close-up of a woman’s breasts with the phrase displayed in bright yellow on them, and then the camera zooms out to an army of women of very similar age, skin tone, height, weight, shape, and size, all displaying a unified cause, attitude, and demeanor, AND THEY’RE ALL WEARING THE SAME SPORTS BRAS WITH THE PHRASE “Boston is a Brotherhood” ACROSS THE BOOBS… It’s pretty fucking militaristic in its own way. Not to mention SERIOUSLY creepy and borderline traumatic for me given recent traumatic events in my life I’ve suffered at the hands of structural patriarchy. I just try not to think about the fact that the majority of men in America watch and actually LIKE this deeply disturbing shit. I don’t know who came up with the idea to put that phrase on those boobs but I’m curious/terrified to know his/her gender. At any rate, this is why I download all the games for free rather than financially supporting the NBA in any way. (Speaking of which, the game that inspired this post was Chicago’s first game in the first round of the 2009 playoffs, at Boston, where then-rookie Derrick Rose and his eighth-seed Bulls triumphed over the defending champions by tying Kareem Abdul Jabbar’s all-time record for most points scored in any player’s debut playoff game, which I watched last night).

Cory Davis

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