A Super Bowl Blog Not About Sports: The Objectification of Women
We all know what Richard Sherman did on January 19th with the amazing play to get the Seahawks into the Super Bowl and the now infamous rant. Twitter exploded, and thus began the backlash and the backlash to the backlash of Sherman's words. The media hoped that he was going to carry that enthusiasm to Media Day this week, but he was on his best behavior.
One of the most curious questions, though, that was posed to him was about the stereotypical link between football players and strippers, perhaps best personified in the incident regarding one certain Pacman Jones.
“As far as money is concerned, all of you football guys has gone into the strip clubs and are raining [money] down on the strippers. I think that’s a bad example for our young ladies. How can we stop that. I think it’s a bad example that we setting for our young girls that they need to be strippers. How do we deal with that issue?”
It was an entirely unfair question, to be sure. To lump Sherman in with "you football guys" simply because he's a football player or perhaps because of the color of his skin and/or corn rows(even though we do not know the ethnicity of the questioner) is prejudice, to be sure. Sherman's answer was very gracious and well thought out on the fly, and I certainly commend him for that.
However, regardless of the fairness of the question pointed at Sherman, I think it still points out something that is an interesting phenomena tangentially related to sports -- the objectification of women and the abuses thereof.
The first, and greatest, issue that is obviously linked to football is the Super Bowl and sex trafficking. By no real fault of the NFL, the potential for abuse in such a large gathering increases greatly as the sinful desires of sinful people on "vacation" yearn to be scratched. It seems to me that a lot of advocacy groups have been doing a great job of making the issue more aware in the public, but obviously there's always room for improvement as long as one person is being taken of advantage in this way. I don't have too much to add to this that hasn't already been said, but it never hurts to pray for the mortality of this country and world. The sooner we can eliminate sex trafficking, the better we'll be.
Another issue which might surprise you that I'm bringing up is cheerleaders. I don't know what your stance is on the relevance of cheerleaders in sports, but it's a big thing. You just need to go to any sports team's website, and you can see just how much the cheerleaders are promoted. In fact, it's a big business between all the appearances, calenders and other such ways that sports teams use cheerleaders and their image. The only problem is that the cheerleaders don't get a significant cut of that pie. Just recently a lawsuit by a Raiderette hit the news cycle, prompting other cheerleaders to speak out against this problem. Gregg Easterbrook, a columnist that I respect for his thoughtfulness although I don't not always agree with him, had this to say about cheerleaders. (Search for cheesecake calendar.)
Much like the issue of the universities making hand over hands amount of money on their student-athletes, it seems extremely unfair to me that the teams make so much on their cheerleaders and not give them a fair share of it. Instead, the conversation always comes down to -- the student-athletes are being compensated by their scholarships, or cheerleading is a hobby; they get it back with the national exposure they get. I certainly believe in capitalism, but there's limits to how much we should be haggling one another. If cheerleaders should not be allowed in sports because of the objectification, then fine, get rid of them. But if it continues, they should still be able to be fairly compensated for their efforts.
Obviously the latter issue is not quite as dire as the former because cheerleaders are going into a situation eyes wide open, but there certainly should be a better way we can act as a society by treating women better than we do. Let's bring this all full circle with Sherman's response to the unfair question.
“Well, I’ve never gone into a strip club and thrown money, so I couldn’t tell you. I guess trying to understand that there are other avenues, there are other ways you can make money, that women can do anything they want in this world. You can go out there and be a CEO of a company. Like I said before, the same can be said for kids in the inner city — the ceiling is limitless and don’t limit yourself to those possibilities and those circumstances.”
Absolutely we should be encouraging women to not give into the expectations of society that looks are paramount, and that they are a thing to be objectified by men. Let's all have open discourse about this age old problem and be better people for it ... for the betterment of our society and for the glory of God.
P.S. - Go Hawks!