Disclaimer: This may not be very coherent or well written. I attribute it to simultaneous shock, outrage and deep gender fatigue. Some things just need to be said, even if they are not said well, until things change.
Thursday was the first Vikings game of the season. I like watching football, and I like the people I watch football with even more. But no matter how much football I watch, I never get used to the blatant connection between sports, sex and violence. On one hand, there is the violent, testosterone- driven, physical, at times warlike game of football. Then there are women standing in leather boots and sequenced bras sharking their hair and pom poms on the sidelines. NFL cheerleaders do not even attempt to be athletes by doing gymnastics or leading the fans in cheers, as their title would try to convey. They are simply there to be looked at, sexually objectified, in between cheering on hard hits, facemasks and sacks.
For my friend’s birthday, she unfortunately picked a bar called Sneaky Pete’s to celebrate. The walls were covered with TVs showing Ultimate Fighting Challenge. Men were lining the bar, sipping beer, cheering on brutally violent and bloody matches. In between matches, they could spin their bar stools and look at the bachelorette parties of drunk women, sliding down the stripper poles provided on the dance floor.
I just recently learned that Minneapolis has passed the zoning to have a topless sport bar outside the newly built Target Field where the Minnesota Twins play baseball. Baseball fans can enjoy a game and then enjoy looking at women’s bodies.
Can’t we all see the connection between sports, violence, objectification of women’s bodies and violence against women? How can it be so pervasive that we do not even get outraged? Where do I place my pain? To whom do I direct my anger? We have so far to go. How do we get there? Where do we go first?