The last home football game of the semester is coming up this Saturday the 23rd and UNC is steadily transitioning to the basketball season. It’s been a fantastic experience being a part of a university with such great school pride, and I am sad that I have to leave it so soon. However, it has also been an eye opener as to how embedded some of the sexist practices are in sports.
As a foreigner, never having seen a male cheerleader before, I was very surprised by their appearance. I had this idea that they looked a lot more like the men in Magic Mike; with no shirts on and tight shorts that end just above the knees. That way, they could show off the big and strong muscles in their arms, torso and legs.
This made a lot of sense to me, since their female counterparts are doing just that. My impression is that they are mainly there to look sexually desirable, which their clothes help with by enhancing some of the prettiest parts of the female body.
On the contrary, the men look like they star in Bananas in Pajamas; their Carolina Blue pants loosely hanging all the way to the ground, and their T-shirts barely showing any skin.
The contrast between the male and the female cheerleaders is shocking to say the least, especially when you see them for the first time, side by side. It is even more so, now that the temperature has started to drop below freezing. At least the dance team, the Carolina Girls, wear tights when it is cold outside.
This column’s message isn’t that the females should cover up. Please don’t misunderstand and think that I am disapproving of their look. What I am advocating for, as a heterosexual female, is to give us something attractive to look at as well. That would be the fair thing to do.
Is it because of tradition that only half-naked men would be considered inappropriate at family-friendly sports games? It seems like a huge double standard, which illustrates the differences in the sexualization of the genders.
Some people might argue that the cheerleaders aren’t supposed to just look nice for the audience, but are there to display their talent. This might be true, but then I just have to ask: Why are they not wearing the same as the men if this was the goal?
Sports games are also not the only events where the genders dress very differently. It seems that it is pretty standard for women to spend a very long time dressing up before going out. All while most guys went straight from the gym to the club.
Why is that the way things are? Is the dating culture solely on the men’s premises? This is clearly not just about the cheerleaders; it is a general social phenomenon in society. Everyone should obviously wear what they want, but it kind of pisses me off that this is the norm. I believe that the first step towards change is talking and thinking about it. Let’s start by doing just that.
So please, male cheerleaders, take off your clothes! We want to see you! Say that it is a feminist issue if you must. Oh, and other American men please for the love of God get it together! Try to look like you spent a little more than two minutes getting ready.
Lastly, let’s debate this gendered clothing difference, which is present in so many parts of our lives. Think about it when you go to the last game and when the basketball season begins.
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