Helen Razer doesn’t even like Lingerie Football League. She makes that clear in this article. But she goes to the wall to defend it against “feminist” (Boo!) critics. Somehow I feel compelled to reply, although it’s about as tempting as stripping nearly naked in Melbourne winter weather and running around on soggy grass.
Other writers and bloggers have already made the point that LFL isn’t so much a “sport” as a titillating curtain raiser for actual football, and that the comparison with Roller Derby is specious (Michelle Smith’s comparison with jelly wrestling is closer to the mark.) I have a depressing vision of a family of football tragics, the kind who, unlike me, actually enjoy field sports and are good at it. The boys are looking at the AFL players and thinking “when I grow up, I could do that. Awesome!” Their sisters girls are watching the LFL players and thinking “Crap, football is obviously not for us, unless we’re built like centrefolds and don’t mind that we’re just eye candy before the real game.”
Razer goes for three lines of defence which I think you’ll find familiar. The first is an old favourite from the 1980s-1990s culture wars:
Critics of LFL are humourless joy-killers!
Critics of this rarely played but much-discussed demonstration sport have included reliable wowser Melinda Tankard Reist and, somewhat little less predictably, ABC radio broadcaster and Chaser alumnus Dom Knight.
More lately, Melbourne academic Dr Michelle Smith wrote in The Age that the Lingerie Football League was ”undoubtedly sexist” and that the act of dismissing its impact on the social lot of women was not only itself sexist but evidence of ”insidious” sexism.
What Smith actually said, and she was no Robinson Crusoe here, was that
The LFL selects women who look like centrefolds in their bra and panties, not muscular or stocky women who might be athletically most suited to football.
Female athletes are regularly undervalued for their sporting abilities, but rewarded for their appearance…
(…and are contractually obliged to be prepared to be dakked on the field in front of thousands.) Seems fairly straightforward to me: That’s sexism. Or, as Twisty would say, it’s in accordance with the Global Accords Governing Fair Use of Women (a.k.a. the megatheocorporatocracy). But Razer chooses to describe Smith’s argument thus:
To be clear: it is generally agreed by feminist persons that the Lingerie Football League is sexist. The league is not only proof of sexism but a source of sexism. Further, if one elects to think of the league as less than sexist, one is sexist.
I was surprised by this reasoning, and not just because it was so dizzyingly syllogistic.
AKA: If my target’s argument isn’t weak enough for me, I have others. Or as commenter “Steve up North” has it, “It’s just a bit of fun, women perve as do men. Feminists are as boring as cardboard for breakfast and most of them wouldnt know a good time if they fell on it. Lighten up, life is too serious and some fun goes a long way to put a smile on peoples faces.” Really, with such a succinct criticism of the silly feminists right there, Razer’s article wasn’t even necessary.
Second, another old favourite which I thought had died a natural death: “Victim feminism”.
Crucial to the “feminist” critique of the Lingerie Football League is the idea that the participants in this spectator sport have no volition or are, at best, victims deluded into the idea of “raunch” liberty…
Surely there are few things more demeaning to women than the incessant reminder that they are being demeaned.
Talk about syllogistic! If you call out any kind of demeaning behaviour you’re responsible for demeaning the targets of that behaviour…
…Which brings us to that current favourite, the Working People v. the Elites! (Elites from Brunswick, who are the elitiest evil elites of all of the elite!)
Just by coincidence, Mr Denmore has just written about this very phenomenon, whereby if you’re opposing the LFL but your approval to the miniskirted warriors of Roller Derby, “(Y)ou’re just a latte-quaffing elitist out of touch with the Barnesian (as in Jimmy) concerns of real folks.” Razer’s post isn’t in the Murdoch media, but it’s a ripper example of the genre.
Just as the Minister for Sport is ”offended” by the debut of this faux sport, I am offended by the snootiness that sustains her critique. If Lundy is genuinely and knowledgably worried for women playing dangerous sport in brief and sexy outfits, then she must step in and immediately outlaw roller derby.
Of course, this will not happen because roller derby is played chiefly by middle-class women in Brunswick who wear their hotpants ”ironically”.
“Women in Brunswick” presumably means the latte-quaffing elitists Mr Denmore refers to, but it seems a bit rich to me, seeing as Razer spent the first half of her life as an inner-city public radio DJ bringing Nirvana and L7 to the masses. You would think that hipsterism had never passed her lips, perhaps she never inhaled. But it’s a strange stick to beat the rest of us with. Nevertheless, let’s look at the reasons these jackbooted elites want to spoil all the fun. If you follow the links you know the arguments the feminist joy killers have put forth: we think it’s bad for women in general and talented sportswomen in particular. Collective Shout have talked about banning it, but most of us unrepresentative left-liberal academic elitist swill (thanks, Mr D!) are simply pointing out why it is continuing the regrettable social norm of men as default human and women as sex class, in several different ways. This, Razer says, is “snootiness”.
Now let’s turn to the Razer article and look at the words used to describe LFL.
Gaudy, not very nice, (like) pole dancing, not terribly hygienic, sport-and-strip hybrid, pseudo-sport, tatty peep show, (signifying) a lack of taste and clothing, faux sport, tat.
So, in other words, we tut-tutting, cause-adopting latte set (Thanks again, Mr D!) are unacceptably “snooty” when we try to look at LFL with an analytical eye, while Razer can bag it out in terms which look undeniably snooty to me, but that’s all right, because… why? Well, I’ve come to the end of this post, or my patience, and I still don’t really know. but my suspicions have something to do with clicks, outrage and page views.
There’s also a passage which attempts to draw an equivalence between women and monster trucks but a great weariness has come upon me. I’ll leave the logical vacuity of that up to someone else, perhaps.