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Putting the tackle into Society of the Spectacle
January 13, 2010 12:55 PM   Subscribe

"One might be tempted to say that the LFL is a startling critique of the homoerotic undertones that are rife within men’s American Football. Indeed American Football’s hyper-masculine qualities, its predilection for tight trousers, bottom patting and suggestive positional names (‘tight end’) have long made it an easy target for artists, theorists, critics, or anyone who is not American. Yet while to claim such satirical depths for the LFL would be disingenuous, what the LFL does achieve is equally subversive." Highbrow British art magazine Frieze discovers the Lingerie Football League. Warning: pictures on both links are NSFW.
posted by WPW (73 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
‘Our QB [quarterback], Anonka Dixon, had her bra top ripped off. Three girls from the Chicago Bliss jumped on her after the play was already over and shredded her top to pieces. There she sat, topless on the field, and for no other reason than she is an unbelievable player and a huge threat to Chicago’s defense […] they wanted to take her out of the game.’

Ugh.

This kind of objectification of women is totally typical of American sports and I think it's a far stretch to call it either subversive or a critique.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 1:00 PM on January 13, 2010


overthinking a plate of beans. go pokes!!
posted by shockingbluamp at 1:01 PM on January 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


...This coming from the country that televises topless darts tourneys?
posted by Ufez Jones at 1:09 PM on January 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


One might be tempted to say that but that would mean that one has poor comprehension of the relevant words.
posted by Babblesort at 1:15 PM on January 13, 2010 [5 favorites]


the LFL has not only raised the spectacle of sport to previously uncharted levels, but it has also sidelined one of sport’s most traditional defining characteristics: competition.

Bah. The Puppy Bowl has been doing that for years.
posted by mrgrimm at 1:17 PM on January 13, 2010 [10 favorites]


All this stuff is like American Idol: you think it's great? watch it. You think it is shit: don't watch it.
posted by Postroad at 1:19 PM on January 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


PhoBWanKenobi, I don't think the article endorses the "sport" in the least (and neither do I) - but it's a very interesting look at what it means.

Ufez, "the country the televises topless darts" is a bit of a stretch since the programme in question only ever appeared on an ultra-fringe cable network, one that closed a decade ago.
posted by WPW at 1:19 PM on January 13, 2010


Immanuel Kant? Really?
posted by zarq at 1:23 PM on January 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


So has professional wrestling, which has been objectifying women like this (and producing spectacles where the spectacle, rather than the winner or loser, is the point) for years.

In all, I think women's pro wrestling is much closer to the LFL than bullfighting is. Shrug--maybe fake-highbrow pro-wrestling essays are out of fashion.
posted by box at 1:24 PM on January 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


As God is my witness, I thought the LFL was a joke.

Well, it is, just not in the way I thought.
posted by tommasz at 1:27 PM on January 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


I was afraid of that, WPW. I was last in the UK in '98. Guess I caught the peak of topless darts mania. Not sure how I feel about that.

But it's not like they're broadcasting LFL games on ESPN or something.
posted by Ufez Jones at 1:28 PM on January 13, 2010


Incidentally, do the reasons that people attend roller-derby events have anything to do with wanting to know who is going to win?
posted by box at 1:28 PM on January 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm sorry, but the article isn't a particularly interesting look at what titty football means. It's a halfheartedly pseudo-intellectual attempt at justifying it.

Also, if I may address titty football directly: Fuck you. Yeah, that's right. Fuck you.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 1:30 PM on January 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


A startling critique of the homoerotic undertones that are rife within men’s American Football?

Does this mean I can't ogle the T&A?
posted by Joe Beese at 1:30 PM on January 13, 2010


>: This kind of objectification of women is totally typical of American sports and I think it's a far stretch to call it either subversive or a critique.

I agree. Male athletes get objectified too, but I get the impression that in both cases it's mostly for male viewers. In the case of women athletes, though, it stops being a sexual undercurrent and becomes explicit: "Hey! Look! Young Women Running Around! Come Ogle!".
It might be a phenomena of our culture but it's really not cool.
posted by dunkadunc at 1:31 PM on January 13, 2010


Incidentally, do the reasons that people attend roller-derby events have anything to do with wanting to know who is going to win?

If you're referring to WFTDA sanctioned bouts, I can assure you that yes, we most certainly do. Please don't compare an actual sport with mere spectacle. They may have some overlap but are very different things.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 1:38 PM on January 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


PhoBWanKenobi, I don't think the article endorses the "sport" in the least (and neither do I) - but it's a very interesting look at what it means.

It might be an "interesting" look, but it's a totally off-base look as well.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 1:44 PM on January 13, 2010


I think I speak for all the gays when I say, "Please leave us out of this."
posted by greekphilosophy at 1:45 PM on January 13, 2010 [8 favorites]


Really? Really?

When I was growing up I knew girls who were football players and wanted to be in the NFL. I played with female softball and baseball players who were actually almost good enough - the best of them - to make it to the minors.

But of course we all knew that they had no shot at fame, fortune, and the chance to play the game they loved for a living and be celebrated for it. Nope, only dudes get that.

The fact this is the best they could hope for makes me feel sick.
posted by shaun uh at 1:46 PM on January 13, 2010 [7 favorites]


Incidentally, do the reasons that people attend roller-derby events have anything to do with wanting to know who is going to win?

They do for me.
posted by piratebowling at 1:52 PM on January 13, 2010


Incidentally, do the reasons that people attend roller-derby events have anything to do with wanting to know who is going to win?

A bunch of my close friends play roller derby. It is a serious sport with rules and genuine competition, and pretty exciting to watch once you grok the rules. Its seriousness doesn't take away from the fact that it's still a spectator sport that plays up its "hawt bitchez violence sportz" aspect in marketing because, let's face it, that's the easiest way to get butts in seats.

That said, I've been to maybe a half-dozen games in LA, and I'd say at least half the crowd cares who is going to win, so it's unfair to lump it in with the Lingerie Bowl - but it's disingenuous to get all "serious business" about a sport in which vagina pun stage names are de rigueur.
posted by thedaniel at 1:57 PM on January 13, 2010 [5 favorites]


Thanks, roller-derby fans, for answering my question. I don't know too much about the sport.
posted by box at 1:58 PM on January 13, 2010


And let me clarify that when I say "get all 'serious business'" i don't mean it's wrong to take it seriously, I just think it's wrong to deny that spectacle plays more of a role in roller derby than in, say, soccer.
posted by thedaniel at 1:59 PM on January 13, 2010


One might be tempted to say that but that would mean that one has poor comprehension of the relevant words.

Should I be beating off to all this or figuring it out what it all means? I've got another hermenutics-boner and I don't want to waste it.
posted by sebastienbailard at 2:01 PM on January 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


I wish real women's football leagues got half as much press as the lingerie crap. The only reason I know about them is because I read an article about them several years ago in our local alt paper.
posted by nooneyouknow at 2:13 PM on January 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


My sister-in-law played in the Lingerie Bowl a few years back and ended up with a concussion. Playing football without any real protective gear (as opposed to little "elbow pads" and things like that) is a dangerous proposition. It looks like the gear has improved since then, which is good. These women play for keeps-- just like in any other sporting event, if you win, you get more money.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 2:14 PM on January 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


Guys, you don't need to overthink it! Fox and Friends already did the thinkin' so that we don't have to!

If you don't have time to watch the Daily Show clip, the basic point is that LFL is the best thing to be seen on TV. Considering that TV has hosted The Wire and the fall of the Berlin Wall, those are some strong accolades.
posted by mccarty.tim at 2:18 PM on January 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Incidentally, do the reasons that people attend roller-derby events have anything to do with wanting to know who is going to win?

Paging mefi's own eamondaly.
posted by dhartung at 2:27 PM on January 13, 2010


Postroad: “All this stuff is like American Idol: you think it's great? watch it. You think it is shit: don't watch it.”

Ah, the sweet democracy of the capitalist marketplace. You can choose from any variety of the many different forms of shit, but please, viewers, keep in mind that everyone likes a different sort of shit. So if the shit you are presently viewing does not suit your particular taste for shit, please choose from the hundreds of different shit channels which we have placed at your disposal.

When the strongest defense that can be mustered in favor of freedom of speech is "if you don't like it, don't watch," it has no real value anymore. Things like justice and equality are worth more.
posted by koeselitz at 2:29 PM on January 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


Playing football without any real protective gear (as opposed to little "elbow pads" and things like that) is a dangerous proposition.

aka rugby.

Playing football with real protective gear leads to brain damage via culmulative microconcussions and 'real' concussions. It was on the blue a while back.
posted by sebastienbailard at 2:49 PM on January 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


One might be tempted to say that the good fellows at Frieze have recently been alerted to the presence of scantily-clad ladies on the Internet.
posted by Halloween Jack at 2:51 PM on January 13, 2010


Oh, what the heck.

This Is Just To Say That One Might Be Tempted To Say

I have looked
at the pictures
of the Lingerie Football League
players

which
you were probably trying
your best
to ignore

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweaty
and so bold
posted by Halloween Jack at 2:55 PM on January 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


The Bud Bowl: Commercial Gimmick or Trenchant Insight Into the Relationship Between Sports Viewership and Alcohol Consumption?

My hypothesis is that Bud Dry was discontinued due to its ultra left wing politics.
posted by electroboy at 2:56 PM on January 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


I haven't watched/attended a LFL game, so I have to ask: Is it a 50-minute sporting event with real plays and real hits, or is it a staged show where every play is interrupted by a dance on the stripper pole? Are the players gussied-up supermodels, or are they athletes? Do the players get paid, is there incentive for winning the championship, or is it, as suggested, pure spectacle?

Watching the game highlights, I'd imagine the women are playing for keeps. Players pass, throw blocks, lay on some wicked hits, and I presume suffer injuries. I don't know if winning teams get more money or endorsements, but if the level of effort in this game is anything like other high school, college, or professional sports, I see no compelling reason to feel outraged.

Yes, the choice of uniforms is perhaps the most objectionable part, but I understand the need to resort to such marketing ploys in order to obtain attendance. Still, if the games really do mean something to the players, teams, and hometown fans, even if it's nothing more than bragging rights, I think the LFL is no less a spectacle than NFL teams playing for the Super Bowl trophy.
posted by CancerMan at 3:42 PM on January 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


Thedaniel says that, at the roller-derby events he (or maybe Thedaniel's female, I dunno) has attended, at least half the crowd cared who won. This made me wonder--what proportion of the crowd cares who wins at a beach-volleyball tournament? a NASCAR race? a Super Bowl? What kinds of sporting events have the highest and lowest proportions?
posted by box at 3:55 PM on January 13, 2010


Yes, the choice of uniforms is perhaps the most objectionable part, but I understand the need to resort to such marketing ploys in order to obtain attendance.

This comment made me think of the AAGPBL (All-American Girls Professional Baseball League) and how in order to attract fans, they outfitted the women in short skirts. I find those uniforms degrading and offensive (and outright impractical), but really it barely matters in the context of how awesome the AAGPBL was.

If this lingerie league actually leads to more recognition and support for women football players, I think I could grudgingly accept the uniforms as the price you pay in a sexist society. But somehow I doubt that's where this league is going. Hell, the AAGPBL was shut down eventually, and all women banned from baseball, so I don't even want to consider how big of a step backwards this league could actually be.

I think the LFL is no less a spectacle than NFL teams playing for the Super Bowl trophy

Taken without context, the LFL is just your everyday, garden-variety sexism and objectification. Within the context of a culture that refuses to give women access to the "spectacle" of NFL teams playing for the Super Bowl trophy, it is a big "fuck you" to women who believe that their bodies can be beautiful for what they can do, not just what they look like.
posted by shaun uh at 4:00 PM on January 13, 2010 [4 favorites]


Man, I thought it would be men playing football in lingerie. This is lame.
posted by Devika at 4:08 PM on January 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


Playing football without any real protective gear (as opposed to little "elbow pads" and things like that) is a dangerous proposition.

aka rugby.


Your point about concussions notwithstanding, the thing I'm more concerned about for these women is that they have very little of any other sort of protection -- I imagine that bruised/broken ribs, broken legs/arms, etc. would be very, very common.

And not to get in a pissing match between continents or a "who's tougher?" argument, but aren't NFL players a lot bigger than most rugby players? And from what little (very little) I know about rugby, it seems it is less about head-on collisions then American football. Not that they aren't there, but it seems like the application of force from one body to the next is slightly more circular. It seems, then, that the kind of protective gear NFL players use is appropriate to the particulars of American football, while it wouldn't work for rugby, and vice versa.
posted by Saxon Kane at 4:49 PM on January 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


As far as I can tell, the LFL is available on line, and maybe on pay-per-view. I think Fox broadcast one Lingerie Bowl years ago. It's not like it's taking football nation by storm. Or like anyone considers it anything but a ridiculous joke.
posted by stargell at 4:58 PM on January 13, 2010


it is a big "fuck you" to women who believe that their bodies can be beautiful for what they can do, not just what they look like.

I do agree with this. If the NFL drafted players with the LFL's criteria, we'd probably have the same complaint. I did like watching the other semi-professional, albeit less-marketed, women's leagues. My town used to have a team, but it folded due to costs.
posted by CancerMan at 5:03 PM on January 13, 2010


CancerMan, if you haven't seen a roller derby bout, you really should go. It sounds like it's right up your alley.
posted by Lucinda at 5:36 PM on January 13, 2010


When the strongest defense that can be mustered in favor of freedom of speech is "if you don't like it, don't watch," it has no real value anymore. Things like justice and equality are worth more.

"If you don't like it, don't watch" is a pretty fundamental concept of free speech. It matters not if it's frivolous, serious, high brow, or trash for the concept of free speech to have value.

Furthermore, what do justice and equality have to do with anything here?

I'm just not seeing the problem with LFL. The women are paid for voluntary work, and fans presumably get entertainment value. Sounds like good enough justification to me. Really, if you don't like it, don't watch. I don't, so I don't.

If the NFL drafted players with the LFL's criteria, we'd probably have the same complaint.

Would we?

Whether the NFL drafted players by LFL standards, or regular NFL standards, most men on the planet would still never have a chance to participate. Is that injustice rant worthy? Or is it just so commonplace that nobody gives it a second thought?
posted by 2N2222 at 6:45 PM on January 13, 2010


Saxon Kane: “And not to get in a pissing match between continents or a "who's tougher?" argument, but aren't NFL players a lot bigger than most rugby players? And from what little (very little) I know about rugby, it seems it is less about head-on collisions then American football. Not that they aren't there, but it seems like the application of force from one body to the next is slightly more circular. It seems, then, that the kind of protective gear NFL players use is appropriate to the particulars of American football, while it wouldn't work for rugby, and vice versa.”

I'm not really a rugby fan, but I've been watching some rugby union lately, and, though I figured they'd be a little smaller and more lithe than American football players (since weight is more an asset in American football) I was surprised: rugby players apparently tend to be the same size as American football players, maybe slightly smaller but pretty much the same size.

Also, rugby is very much about head-on collisions - they're an essential part of the sport called "scrums" - but doesn't so dramatically emphasize the initial impact so much as the struggle that ensues, and while every play starts with a scrum, plays don't end nearly as often, so that's not as common. This is true particularly in rugby league, but rugby union has scrums, too. And rugby union doesn't allow blocking (hitting of and by players who don't have the ball) but from what I can tell, in rugby league you can do pretty much whatever the hell you want to the players on the other team. I'm sure American-football-style hitting would be perfectly legal, although I don't think it would be very useful to the game.
posted by koeselitz at 6:55 PM on January 13, 2010


I train regularly with a young woman who is in the LFL. She also has a degree in engineering, a stunt player, does Parkour, and is a renown Thai boxing and Kali martial artist under the Inosanto lineage.
posted by tkchrist at 7:13 PM on January 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


One of the big problems I see is the increasing tendency for sports to be something you watch and not something you do.
posted by electroboy at 7:13 PM on January 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


2N2222: “It matters not if it's frivolous, serious, high brow, or trash for the concept of free speech to have value.”

I don't see any line of reasoning behind this statement beyond a rote allegiance to the idea, which makes little sense. Pure freedom has no 'value,' no discernible worth to anyone; value can only be attached to freedom insofar as it a value to do a particularly beneficial thing. Freedom can rationally be valued so long as its the freedom to live happily or the freedom to overcome injustice, et cetera; freedom itself has no intrinsic worth. Nor does speech; so 'freedom of speech' clearly has no intrinsic value - it only has value insofar as it includes the freedom to speak beneficially.

This is obviously taken as a given by the regimes in most democracies in the world today; in all, certain forms of malignant speech are not allowed, for example the freedom to shout "fire!" in a crowded theater, and the freedom to slander or libel someone. If freedom of speech had intrinsic worth, then it would be unjust to disallow speaking about certain things or in a certain way; but since it doesn't, we don't hesitate to impose such limits. We only debate how much we should limit.

“Furthermore, what do justice and equality have to do with anything here? I'm just not seeing the problem with LFL.”

Riddle out the answer to that question, and you might see the problem. If you can't see sexist bullshit when it's glaring you in the face, it's difficult for me to know what to say to pull the scales from your eyes.

The creation of complicity in inequality is the first method that capitalism uses to counteract the natural human desire for justice. That's why, while a primitive form of capitalism might be capable of coexisting with democracy, mature capitalism utterly subsumes and destroys equality.

In other words: you think that encouraging men to leer and laugh at women, turning them from sexual beings to sexual machines, is worth a shrug. You think this kind of thing doesn't hurt society much, and you figure people ought to be free to do it. Even our grandparents, not necessarily any fans of equality between the sexes, could see that this sort of shit is demeaning. But our advanced stage of capitalism has given us this benefit: it's anesthetized us to the point where, in a few years, if we turn on the television to see an announcer talking about what a hero Adolf Hitler was, we'll probably shrug and change the channel.

“Is that injustice rant worthy? Or is it just so commonplace that nobody gives it a second thought?”

It takes an inordinate lack of perspective and an impressive amount of conformity to think that "rant worthy" and "commonplace" are mutually exclusive.
posted by koeselitz at 7:24 PM on January 13, 2010 [4 favorites]


This is true particularly in rugby league, but rugby union has scrums, too.

That's actually a union scrum you linked to. League scrums are mostly uncontested and have six players, whereas union scrums look like this, and have 8.

Also, rugby is very much about head-on collisions - they're an essential part of the sport called "scrums"

No head to head in scrums, unless someone's cheating. Your head goes either outside of the opposing playerif you're a loosehead prop or between the opposing prop and hooker if you're a tighthead.

rugby union doesn't allow blocking

League neither, as far as I know, but I'm not as familiar with league.

I'm sure American-football-style hitting would be perfectly legal

Nope. It's a serious infraction not to wrap with your arms when you tackle.

One of the great things about rugby is that it's one of the few sports that people play after leaving school. I'm 33, and I've been playing for 15 years. One of my teammates is 49, and is still one of our best players.
posted by electroboy at 7:28 PM on January 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


tkchrist: “I train regularly with a young woman who is in the LFL. She also has a degree in engineering, a stunt player, does Parkour, and is a renown Thai boxing and Kali martial artist under the Inosanto lineage.”

Uncle Tom was actually a well-paid, happy, healthy black man with a nice house and a decent living.
posted by koeselitz at 7:30 PM on January 13, 2010


koeselitz: Just once it would be awesome if you didn't try to insult every bodies intelligence with bullshit insulting false equivalencies like that.
posted by tkchrist at 7:57 PM on January 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


Whether the NFL drafted players by LFL standards, or regular NFL standards, most men on the planet would still never have a chance to participate. Is that injustice rant worthy? Or is it just so commonplace that nobody gives it a second thought?

I've more a problem with the hiring based on appearance first, talent second. The NFL has its standards, sure, and that excludes a majority of men on the world. However, NFL teams typically won't pass on an extremely-skilled athlete simply because he's not trim or good-looking, or doesn't fit in a uniform.

I do not discount the ability of LFL players to play US football, and I think they take the sport seriously enough that the game itself is not just a staged performance with a pre-determined winner. So if they're on the team, I'm not going to knock their talent or skill, or whatever personal feelings they have for football. It's unfortunate that the league is marketed the way it is, but I can respect the players themselves for going where the money and exposure (no pun intended) are.
posted by CancerMan at 8:03 PM on January 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


tkchrist- That's the thing, though. The woman you're describing sounds like a fucking powerhouse. It's really sad to me that the same guys who watch the LFL probably wouldn't pay attention if she got to wear an actual shirt and didn't have to put on lipstick.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 9:03 PM on January 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


An NFL player makes a median of $750,000 a year. An LFL player makes $40,000 a year.

It does not matter if an NFL player is beautiful. It is utterly unrelated to their chances of success in the NFL. Most LFL players are former models, and if you're not traditionally thin/pretty enough, you don't get to play.

NFL players are dressed in gear which seeks to protect their bodies from injury. LFL players are dressed in gear which show off their bodies to male fans, despite the fact that this puts them at greater risk to injury.

NFL players are always men. LFL players are always women.

This situation is so textbook sexist that it is practically a microcosm of a world in which women routinely earn less then men, are inappropriately sexualized by men, and are endangered by men.

What exactly are you trying to defend, again?
posted by shaun uh at 9:28 PM on January 13, 2010 [4 favorites]


Immanuel Kant? Really?

No, but Kublai Khan.

rugby players apparently tend to be the same size as American football players, maybe slightly smaller but pretty much the same size
posted by kirkaracha at 6:00 AM on January 14, 2010


Metafilter: also has a degree in engineering, a stunt player, does Parkour, and is a renown Thai boxing and Kali martial artist under the Inosanto lineage.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:10 AM on January 14, 2010


I think it does a disservice to women in sports to compare the LFL to the NFL at all. The LFL is to the NFL as foxy boxing is to the IWBF. A serious athlete wouldn't play in a league like that, because the level of play is inferior. I'd be willing to bet that tkchrist's acquaintance is playing for the money, not for the competition.
posted by electroboy at 8:06 AM on January 14, 2010


Guys, you don't need to overthink it! Fox and Friends already did the thinkin' so that we don't have to!

"Geraldo! Geraldo!" - ^^ is good.

I think the LFL is no less a spectacle than NFL teams playing for the Super Bowl trophy.

Not even if the players who are allowed to play are selected based on proven ability (mostly) in one league and physical attractiveness in the other?

Not even if the uniforms and equipment in one league are designed for safety while the other league's costume is for show?

or more concisely, from CancerMan: I've more a problem with the hiring based on appearance first, talent second.

It's why I hate the pop music industry (... and yet cannot help but feel the pull of the catchy bubblegum and scantily clad women). Excepting the British woman with the eyebrows (who I predict will eventually implode from being not attractive enough to withstand the public gaze), how many unattractive pop singers are there?

One of the big problems I see is the increasing tendency for sports to be something you watch and not something you do.

Amen. Go play with your kids or someone else's kids. Organized sports get a bad rap in these overscheduled days, but they can be transformative experiences for some kids.

Along with other outdoor activities like hiking, biking, gardening, etc., sports allow kids to interact with grown-ups as equals. And the willingness to be a coach is often the only requirement needed for the job.

I guess kids and adults can also interact as equals when watching major sporting events, though I haven't really seen that until kids are 9+. Before that, it's just kids making their parents happy by pretending to care (and wear all the stupid gear).

Anyway, I think there's so much more that kids can learn by using their hands or their bodies in new ways. Watching sports on TV is great for one thing (aside from the camaraderie of hanging out with friends or whatever): inspiring you to get out there and play.

I don't think the LFL is inspiring anybody to get out there and do anything. I might be wrong, since I've only watched clips. So yeah, "just don't watch it," is fine, but it's also our responsibility to say it's fucking stupid and to show our daughters it's not something to which they should aspire. That obviously goes for a lot of shitty TV.
posted by mrgrimm at 8:20 AM on January 14, 2010


It's really sad to me that the same guys who watch the LFL probably wouldn't pay attention if she got to wear an actual shirt and didn't have to put on lipstick.

Why men watch isn't as interesting to me as why women play.

The point is it's easy to stereotype the women who do this thing and retrofit them into your worldview. Which is also sexist. Like Koeslitz did crassly likening women who play to the gender equivalent of Race Traitors. Which is inflammatory as hell and not very helpful.
posted by tkchrist at 10:39 AM on January 14, 2010


I'd be willing to bet that tkchrist's acquaintance is playing for the money, not for the competition.

Maybe. But I think it was a lark and mostly for fun. I'll have to ask her.
posted by tkchrist at 10:44 AM on January 14, 2010


I think it does a disservice to women in sports to compare the LFL to the NFL at all.

I think it does a disservice to women in sports that there is no female equivalent to the NFL, or female participation in the NFL. Fix that, and I'll stop complaining about the LFL.
posted by shaun uh at 11:14 AM on January 14, 2010


I think it does a disservice to women in sports that there is no female equivalent to the NFL

You mean like the IWFL? There's probably a team in your area. You could go support them.
posted by electroboy at 11:25 AM on January 14, 2010


I don't see any line of reasoning behind this statement beyond a rote allegiance to the idea, which makes little sense. Pure freedom has no 'value,' no discernible worth to anyone; value can only be attached to freedom insofar as it a value to do a particularly beneficial thing. Freedom can rationally be valued so long as its the freedom to live happily or the freedom to overcome injustice, et cetera; freedom itself has no intrinsic worth. Nor does speech; so 'freedom of speech' clearly has no intrinsic value - it only has value insofar as it includes the freedom to speak beneficially.
I think you've got yourself tied up in knots. If we compare the situation here with the one in China, you can immediately see the practical benefits. A site like Metafilter in china couldn't exist without government approved moderators having access. Pretty soon users in China may not even be able to use google. And they can't access youtube, twitter, and facebook.

So, lets put aside the obvious economic value that free speech has (as opposed to costly speech -- where compliance with censorship literally increases the costs of speech and makes it impractical to do things you can here)

The other argument for free speech is that it allows political ideas to be expressed freely and to help shape society. If you think the game is sexist, then you obviously think it's political. Just a political message you disagree with. (The message that it's OK to objectify women and sexualize female sports).

If you're saying free speech has no "Value" because it produces crappy entertainment that propagates retrograde social views, well, twenty years ago people would have said the same things about entertainment that was pro-gay. That it promoted "perversion." How is it that your argument wouldn't be just as valid for those people?

Allowing people to control other people's expression retards social change. If you were to censor 'retrograde' arguments, then people could just as easily censor 'progressive' arguments.
posted by delmoi at 11:33 AM on January 14, 2010


I think it does a disservice to women in sports that there is no female equivalent to the NFL

You mean like the IWFL? There's probably a team in your area. You could go support them.

I've not been able to find evidence that the women of the IWFL receive any sort of salary, let alone the eye-popping $750,000 medial salary of the NFL.

So yeah. Totally equivalent.
posted by shaun uh at 11:48 AM on January 14, 2010


I think it does a disservice to women in sports that there is no female equivalent to the NFL, or female participation in the NFL. Fix that, and I'll stop complaining about the LFL.

There is no female equivalent to the NFL because there is extremely little demand for it. There is no minor-league football, for goodness sake.

(I don't think there are any rules that preclude a talented woman from playing in the NFL.)

No offense, but why would anyone aside from a very small niche audience want to watch women's football?

I think it would actually be a disservice to women in sports to force the creation of a professional league for a sport that most women (and most people, for that matter) never play.

We'd be better off putting those resources and effort toward sports that women and girls actually play and cannot afford to or don't have access to the necessary fields or equipment (soccer, baseball/softball, basketball, tennis, volleyball, etc.)
posted by mrgrimm at 12:12 PM on January 14, 2010


I've not been able to find evidence that the women of the IWFL receive any sort of salary

And they certainly won't if you don't support them. If women playing football is important to you, go buy tickets or go try out.
posted by electroboy at 12:15 PM on January 14, 2010


(I don't think there are any rules that preclude a talented woman from playing in the NFL.)

I'm not sure whether there are - I'm not a football fan. I do know there are rules that preclude a talented woman from playing in the MLB. Even if there aren't any rules, per se, it's completely disingenuous to suggest that talented women aren't discouraged in countless ways from participating in men's professional leagues. There was a girl in my small town growing up who was an awesome punter but she quit the high school football team when people wouldn't stop suggesting she was gay/secretly a man/ugly.

A woman with the talent to play professionally and win fame and fortune, if only she were a man, instead is forced to choose between playing for free in games no one goes to, or taking her shirt off and being ogled and objectified by men in order to play for the LFL.

How does that not break your heart?
posted by shaun uh at 12:22 PM on January 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


And they certainly won't if you don't support them. If women playing football is important to you, go buy tickets or go try out.

I actually dislike football, but I support women's baseball, softball, and basketball teams.

Have you ever been to an IWFL game?
posted by shaun uh at 12:23 PM on January 14, 2010


Nope. I don't watch football, but I coach both boys and girls high school rugby.
posted by electroboy at 12:33 PM on January 14, 2010


Have you ever been to an IWFL game?

I've seen an exhibition DC Divas game where they got beat soundly by a group amateur middle-aged dudes who had only practiced together twice. Does that count?
posted by and hosted from Uranus at 12:38 PM on January 14, 2010


Does that count?

Yeah, it counts - and what's more, you've totally convinced me that women are laughably inferior to men. I'm not going to worry my pretty little head about it any more - I'll leave that to amateur middle aged dudes like you.
posted by shaun uh at 12:47 PM on January 14, 2010


I think it does a disservice to women in sports that there is no female equivalent to the NFL, or female participation in the NFL. Fix that, and I'll stop complaining about the LFL.

It's not like there's anyone stopping women from forming their own professional sports leagues. I'm sure that if women watched each other play professional sports to the extent that men watch each other play sports, there would be a huge market for it. Why is it somebody else's responsibilty to "fix that"? If women want their own leagues, why aren't they forming and watching them, like men do?

There are plenty of skilled and talented female athletes, and I don't want anyone to think that I disrespect that, or think they need to go back to the kitchen, or whatever. The fact is that for the most popular sports, men have a distinct advantage due to our physical strength. This is probably true even for sports that seem unrelated to "brute force," such as tennis. It's no mistake that the Williams sisters, with their very masculine builds, have been at the top of women's tennis for over a decade. When people watch sports, they want to see the best. It's not fair, but then again, nature doesn't seem to care about our sensibilities on many counts. And that's a big reason why there are no women in the NFL: few if any women can compete in that sport at that level, and these are businesses that tend to make money by winning.

But this doesn't mean that women have no place in sports. There are two sides to sports: spectating, and participating. I'm far from an athlete, but I have a feeling that there's a lot more to gain out of participation. Yeah, the lack of televised women's athletics deprives women of roles models in sports...but screw that. If you want to play sports, get a basketball and head down to the courts. Nobody's going to stop you.
posted by Edgewise at 9:23 PM on January 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


A couple years ago, I pitched a story about the Detroit IWFL team, the Detroit Demolition. They were women who worked regular jobs, waitresses and EMTs, auto line workers and accountants, who also played football.

And played it well.

They were mostly women who had come from track and field in college, some who had played other sports (including college wrestling, which I didn't even know women competed in), and some who hadn't played anything. They trained hard and had a former NFL coach—not a head coach, I think he was a defensive coach for the Lions before taking over. But watching them play, I'd put them up against any solid Big 10 college football team, and they might give the Lions a fair game. They were primarily built on a quarterback with solid arm, able to hit forty yards or longer with accuracy, and a lot of former sprinters as receivers. The QB took almost everything in shotgun, would love a quick pass, and the sprinter would haul ass in for a touchdown.

The biggest problem they had? Well, outside of Detroit, the league just isn't very competitive. They'd won every championship, and regularly—without even seeming to try—ran up 80-0 or 100-3 scores. They played professional football in a league that just could not match them. I talked to some of the spectators, dwindling at each game I saw. Either they were there because they wanted to see their friends or family play, or they didn't come back. One said, "I came to see a game, but this was a slaughter." There just wasn't ever any of that tension that a great game gives; it was more like watching a Madden game. They had their second-string—and there's no third string—in by the end of the first quarter, and it was still just this endless march of, well, demolition. Snap, pass, 60-yard run with no defense near the receiver for the last 40 yards, touchdown; snap, pass, interception, 20-yard run, touchdown; snap, pass, 60-yard run, touchdown. You could see that it wore down the spirit of the other team—I think it was Cleveland, or some other Ohio folks brought up by bus to Livonia—all those shoulders sagging, all that resigned, fumbling ennui. But it wore down Detroit too. They didn't celebrate after touchdowns, not after the first or second. It was more like stamping a bumper or delivering a package. They got paid, not much, but enough that it looked like a job. It was rote enough to feel like an existential exercise, some sort of Sartrean hell where the women were condemned to endless, effortless success.

On some level, I'd love to see the Demolition play against anyone from the Lingerie league, even though I know it'd be another slaughter. But I'd love to see the Demolition with something to get passionate about, and crushing these pretenders, these usurpers, showing what real athleticism looks like, and at least allowing their victory to come at the expense of mascara slathered pretenders, girls crushed by women.
posted by klangklangston at 10:04 PM on January 14, 2010 [5 favorites]


If you want to play sports, get a basketball and head down to the courts. Nobody's going to stop you.

If it was that simple. Look at college athletics. How many resources are expended on female sports as compared to male sports? If a woman is serious about an athletic career there are few starting places to hone the skills you need in a serious environment with a good pool of competitors.
posted by tkchrist at 12:13 PM on January 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


mrgrimm: “There is no female equivalent to the NFL because there is extremely little demand for it.”


Edgewise: “It's not like there's anyone stopping women from forming their own professional sports leagues. I'm sure that if women watched each other play professional sports to the extent that men watch each other play sports, there would be a huge market for it. Why is it somebody else's responsibilty to "fix that"? If women want their own leagues, why aren't they forming and watching them, like men do?... Nobody's going to stop you.”

While I agree in general with the thrust of these arguments, and I'm going to be agitating for the creation of a women's football league any time soon - the sport as it is should probably be illegal, for one thing, considering how dangerous it is - I think it's pretty important to point out the fallacies above.

The best tools racism and sexism have are the common appeals to some grand (and actually non-existent) 'democracy of the marketplace.' 'Well, if there were only demand for equality, then...' This is a fallacy because 'demand' for something is not an absolute quality of populations - 'demand' is created by society. If there isn't 'demand,' it's because people have been encouraged to 'demand' something else, and to act as though people have some innate, unchanging 'desire' mechanism inside them that 'demands' men playing football or 'demands' particular television channels or a certain kind of deodorant is to pretend that human beings aren't affected by their environment at all. And saying that 'people are free to form women's leagues if they want to' ignores the practical and social forces that prevent that from happening - very real practical and social forces that have to be confronted and dealt with.

It's simple: we as a society view women as less athletic, as less competitive, and as less sporting than men. You can't observe this fact and shrug it off by saying: 'people want what they want, and if there's no demand for seeing women as equals, that's just how it is. They're free to be equal if they want to work for it, anyhow.' I know you guys aren't saying that directly; I only want to point out that, in the context of sexual equality, marketing weasel-words like 'demand' and 'nobody's stopping you,' already quite superficial, become laughably inadequate for describing the reality of the situation.
posted by koeselitz at 1:23 PM on January 15, 2010


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