A couple of days ago, I learned about something called the Lingerie League. Now, because I honestly hope that you don’t know what it is, I’ll explain.
It’s tackle football (or what Americans think football is, then simplified, with no field goals or punts), played by women, 7 on 7, in very specific uniforms. They consist of what you’d expect on an NFL field – shoulder pads, elbow pads, knee pads, garters, bras, and panties. You heard right garters, bras, and panties. I didn’t mix sports uniforms up with strip club uniforms, they just seemed to have magically combined to create the most degrading thing ever. To both women and sports.
Now, I honestly don’t consider myself to be a ‘feminist’, or whatever that term now tends to mean. I’m grateful for the “real” feminism of the 19th and 20th century that knocked common sense into a society that believed women were meant only for the kitchen. Nowadays, there are still fights to be fought and salaries to be equaled, but feminism has come to mean something else. It now includes those easily offended (jokes, girly magazines, the adjective ‘feminine’, the term ‘PMS’ you name it – they’ll be offended by it) and those insisting to be “gender blind”. I am neither. I’m a strong believer that men and women are indeed different, equal but different (with the parts to prove it), and that pictures like these are funny rather than offensive.
As a girl, and a sports journalist though, Lingerie League is where I draw the line. I’m offended. You know why? Because it’s offensive.
Men have always seemed to have had this fantasy of women in bikinis, rolling around and pinning each other down, preferably in mud. That too exists of course, because everything does, but at least nobody has had the audacity to call it a sport. [Who knows though, maybe it can apply for a 2020 Olympic bid, instead of real wrestling, that’s ‘modernization’ isn’t it?]. But now, something that started off as a Superbowl halftime event in 2004, (also degrading, but not much longer that a couple of the Victoria’s Secret commercials we now see at halftime – sex sells, remember?), has turned into something more.
There is now an actual league (thankfully confined only to North America, but Australia is set to jump on the bandwagon), with conferences, divisions, and 12 teams, whose names have a very perfumey ring to them. Jacksonville Breeze, Green Bay Chill? Well, there would be a breeze and a chill when you’re wearing only underwear. The Lingerie League is now a spectator sport, and while I can’t deny it the spectators (only wonder at the ones who are women), let’s just be clear on one thing – it is not a sport.
The league was rebranded as the Legends Football League in 2013, supposedly to distance itself from the ‘degrading image’ and up its image as a sport. It failed. Because a sport is based on running faster, jumping higher – and doing it in the attire that helps you do so. Those that make the team and those staying on the bench are separated by skill and readiness, not by whose breast are bigger, or who looks better in lace. Those on the court, or field, don’t stop mid-pass for a quick make-out session because – hey, sex sells! – they know that skill sells too. Ticket prices for the recent Champions League final (where they wear all their clothes), went up to £7,350 on the black market. Skill sells.
As the league made its way Down Under, infuriated sports Minister Kate Lundy spoke out on a blog, urging the people of Australia to not support it.
“The LFL is about giving viewers an opportunity to perv on women in gear that looks like it’s come from an adult shop,” Lundy wrote. “It’s called the Lingerie Football League because it’s almost exclusively about the underwear.
Perving, nudity and adult shops have been around forever (and nobody’s complaining!), but what’s even worse than turning that into a sport, is the amount of publicity it’s receiving. The LFL is now deemed ‘the fastest growing female sport’, and we all need to stop and think what kind of message this sends. To women athletes, competing in full uniform and struggling to be as recognized as their male counterparts and to coming generations of girls (already tripped out on social media) who will be easily convinced that taking their clothes off is the only way.