When I first read about it, being mentioned in an article about some broader topic, I pictured the Lingerie Football League to be a steamy calender with a Miss January, February, March… and so forth, representing various football teams of some particular league somewhere. They would of course appear in lingerie or bikinis themed according to the team they represent, maybe holding a ball or a team flag of some sort.
– See bottom of post for official “rebranding” of LFL as of 13 January 2013 –
It was to my surprise however that I recently came face to face with the real deal, the name being more literal than I thought at first: it is actual women playing (American styled) football wearing lingerie and some protective gear. Not too much gear though, as the point of the game is for the fans in the crowd to actually get to see some flesh. Sort of a glorified and more structured version of women’s mud wrestling but with the focus on lingerie and what it does not cover. My first thought actually when I saw the ad campaigns and read articles about how the process of recruiting players and the actual match days work was: oh, it’s sport meets porn; men pay to watch sport and they pay to watch porn, let’s combine the two and make more money. It puts a bit of a ‘family friendly’ twist on it though as it’s not men watching women dance on tables or swinging around a pole for entertainment but they are playing a ‘sport’ you see.
I’m going to be dead honest now, being quite the sports fan myself, I don’t find women’s rugby, cricket or soccer as entertaining or exhilarating as I do that of their male counterparts. It’s simply not at the same level and intensity. Some might even accuse me of being biased or sexist for saying that but the point is, I think I represent the majority of men in that respect. I will support a female team if they represent my country at a major event and will applaud any female athlete if she achieved some high award in her specific discipline. I will not go out of my way however to get tickets to go and watch those sports and neither would most other fellows. The only reason so many men are getting excited about Lingerie Football is because it is another ‘product’, birthed in the porn industry, presented to them for consumption. Another medium of satisfaction provided to still the hunger which was initially created by the very people now selling it to them – by the media, through the media. How was that for stating the obvious? I felt I had to say it as such though before I continue.
In discovering the latest craze the US is trying to export to Australia (or is it Ausland trying to import it?)* I came across two brave women who realised that in order to stand a better chance of slaying this dragon they might have to actually enter its den. Sydney university student Tal Stone went in first as she signed up for the trials through which girls tried to qualify for future Australian based squads. She discovered first hand that the point of this game was to entertain the crowds (I now imagine one girl destroying all the rest looking at LFL founder Mitch Mortaza shouting ala Maximus: “Are you not entertained!” because that’s basically what it comes down to), not necessarily by means of scoring touch downs but instead by having the typical porn girl look and attitude. And in this I sadly realised once again how quite a few girls are buying into this in order to be cheered on by men and in the process find some solace in the slurs thrown at them. Next up it was Sydneysider Deb Malcolm who chose to enter the unknown although she might have had some idea of what to expect. Inside it was a man’s (or should I say a boy hooked on porn rather?) dream: sporty hot girls in lingerie tackling one another, occasionally underwear come off, lots of beer, an environment encouraging one to express thoughts about sexual ideas and fantasies even, and a general rude and dominating attitude towards women. (Follow links attached to their names to read their full reports).
I then went on and posted these reports to my facebook profile asking: “Lingerie Football League: it’s like dog fights, only they use real women (that stuff the previous generation called mothers, daughters, sisters, friends, etc.). How sad is this?”
A friend of mine responded by asking whether the women are forced to participate and saying that if they aren’t it is I that portray them as victims and in effect am disempowering and belittling them saying they weren’t able to decide for themselves whether they wanted to be there. He asked why men can do depraved things and then we say it is their choice but when women does it they are victims and “women, if empowered, are empowered to do whatever they please – including to offend?”
I’m not sure what exactly he meant by ‘offend’ as he didn’t respond to any further of my replies but the only people offended in all this are the Lingerie Footballers themselves and all other women who have to further suffer under the treatment of women as sex objects the world over.
I likened it to a homeless man desperate for money, food or drink. I have witnessed and heard of situations where, typically, bored (and most likely intoxicated) students would offer such a man money to perform some crazy act for their entertainment. He agrees to perform what they asked of him in the hope that he completes the task unscathed and that it doesn’t cost him more than the money or food they hand him once he’s done. On his face you can also see that he does enjoy the attention and praise as it’s something he doesn’t receive too often, even if he knows at the same time they can’t really care less.
Homeless man agreed to what ever they asked of him, he excercised a choice. Let’s say they gave him exactly what they told him and even a bit more. The typical legalistic man always turning to ‘the law’ (or constitution), only interested in his own rights would say this is all good. I would disagree however.
My aim would be to act in a way that is beneficial to society and the individuals forming part of it. I would call the aforementioned situation exploitation. These guys used the homeless man’s desperation for their own entertainment, to escape for a brief while from their own unsatisfied position. They had the option to just give him food and a word of encouragement or maybe restore some honour to him and ask him to wash their car and pay him in return for work which is more respectable to the ridiculous act he just performed.
In Australia some men apparently responded by likening LFL apparel to men in speedos or wrestling hot pants, saying, like my friend on facebook did, that if men are allowed to do so women ought to be allowed to dress like that too. Once again I will differ with that opinion. Back to the homeless guy and his student ‘friends’. If the homeless guy said no to the offer, walked off and one of the students volunteered to his mates that he’ll take up the challenge for a beer, the humiliation is not the same because the context is so much different. For men to even play sports naked (as some rugby club in New Zealand does) is a joke in cultural context, while for women to even work as promo girls at clubs or sporting events could be potentially humiliating within our culture where they are being sexually objectified around ever corner, literally on billboards and bus stops.
I consider the Lingerie Football League and its proponents to work according to the exact same model. Women are paid to entertain men in a way that reaffirms their lowly view of those and all other women in general. These women might even say to me they feel empowered and enjoy what they’re doing but I’ll say to them the same I would to the homeless man: you’re being taken for a ride while you’re worth way more than that. It’s called sexploitation.
*It is a common trend in Australian sports broadcasting (and maybe some other things too?) that they adopt American ways. Please don’t, as an Aussie-appreciating South African I believe we have something unique to offer in the South still.
A significant change in the branding of LFL and how girls will be presented has occurred on 9 January 2013 at the official launch of its new image:
The Lingerie Football League has announced that it will be rebranding itself to more accurately reflect its position as the “most successful women’s sports league” by focusing on the actual athletics of it. The LFL will be changing its name to the Legends Football League and that players replace the bras, panties, and garter belts for more traditional uniforms and protective padding…the league will also remove “any sexy female figures” from the logo, redesign the shoulder pads to increase protection, and change the tag line from “True Fantasy Football” to “Women of the Gridiron.” The rebranding is clearly designed to highlight the athletes instead of their tits and asses. – jezebel.com
Official launch video: LFL rebranded
This seems, however, only a way of making the ‘soft porn’ aspect of the brand less obvious.