Cheer Routine vs. Feminism: A Facebook Debate

Morning Sports Fans,

Recently I posted this video on my Facebook account garnering some interesting conversation I did not expect.

Because Facebook has become difficult as of late, I would like to have the debate continue here. The following is a transscript of the debate. Please ignore the formatting, wordpress is a pain in the rear to work with sometimes! Take comfort in knowing that the formatting is bugging me.

Speaker 1

Harmless? Read the comments:

“…good riddance!”

“…devouring her (and presumably filling her holes)”

“Raptor hell…more like Raped’er”

“…What happens in the suit, stays in the suit”

No connection between the idea of consumption of women as sex material and this? The comments speak for themselves.

Jusarious

Rule of thumb, never read comments. Truely it was unexpected and rather funny. And because I made a pun with a sexual undertone does not make my comment offhand.

Laugh, it was funny.

Speaker 1

Busy morning. I was actually trying to get back on here and add that this isn’t just about you.

I’m interested in pointing out the full context of what this is indicative of. Of course I’m not suggesting that watching this is going to make people go out and do something (at least not directly). As with all media it is both a product of, and a cause of attitudes.When you understand the full social context and how this translates into oppression of women, it’s no longer funny. I don’t mean a bunch of men in a board room conspiring and twisting their mustaches, I mean attitudes and beliefs that play out into larger effects… like the economy. Our intent may not be malicious, but it needn’t be. It doesn’t make a lick of difference why when you’re at the butt end of it.The fact is that if we are passive in our dealings with understanding gender, then without any malicious intent, we can (and are) continuing to support a system that oppresses women.

Jusarious

I am lost. How is this particular event opressing

Jusarious

Start writing on a blackberry and finish on my iPhone.*….Oppressing women?

Speaker 1

It’s the depiction of women and a sexual commodity to be objectified and then consumed. The typical response to it, is indicative of that being the perception, conscious or subconscious though it may be.

Objectification:
http://evebitfirst.wordpress.com/2010/05/19/a-little-gir/

Speaker 2

Speaker 1 – are you a major in women’s studies?? being a woman, I am still giggling about the video and think it’s very funny/hilarious and don’t know what your issue is…..????

Speaker 2

and btw…how do you know that the raptor is a male raptor and not a female raptor????

Speaker 1

Speaker 2 – “are you a major in women’s studies??”No I’m not. I’m self studied I guess you could say? I’ve listened to women, explored the rationale, and gathered and analysed my own data (to use scientific terms). To use an analogy, sometime trees don’t look like trees at first until you start to see the forest.”how do you know that the raptor is a male raptor and not a female raptor??”Does it matter? This is men’s sports, with female cheerleaders (for men), with an aggressive animal mascot. In this kind of context, if it were supposed to be a female it would be pink, with a pink skirt, and jewelry and probably get grabbed in the ass by another male mascot as another attempt at “humour”. Let’s be real here. In our culture, if it’s not overtly feminine or not indicated, the default is male. Men are the default human, women are “other”. There’s basketball, and then there’s women’s basketball. That’s not to say that everything like this is laced with intent, but the result is the result and needs to be addressed.Unfortunately as a feminist, you end up pointing out things that are very not obvious at first glance. Like a drop that becomes part of the waterfall. It’s hard when these things are screaming in your face and that when you point it out, people will think you just don’t have sense of humour.

Speaker 1

I happen to have a fantastic sense of humour :) I just don’t share it on Facebook very often. I have too much passion for ideas and understanding most of the time. May the humour gods have mercy on my soul ;-P

Speaker 3

My initial impression of the stunt is that it was somewhat humorous, and I think that it would have been equally funny if a male fan had been consumed.Giving them the benefit of the doubt, I’d say that they used a cheerleader probably because they were available, and I assume that she was in on it. The way cheerleading is handled (and the legitimacy of the cheerleading sport) strikes me as a better target for a discussion of objectification of women than this stunt.It seems to me that the comments are fairly indicative of a misogynist attitude, true. But that doesn’t necessarily speak to the tone of the stunt itself, just the callibre of some viewers. I agree that reading comments on YouTube videos is apoplexy-inducing, and I generally recommend against it. :)

Speaker 1

This blog post eloquently describes the gut wrenching awkwardness of trying to speak out about these issues… and I don’t have it near as bad because of these handy little extremities hanging between my legs. They afford me so much privilege. I don’t have to be the victim.http://www.fugitivus.net/2009/06/24/a-woman-walks-into-a-rape-uh-bar/

Jusarious

Can’t look at blogs at work. Care to sum it up?

Speaker 1

I really recommend reading it at home then. It really hits home.

What I was referring to is only the first part of the post, where she describes in detail how there is no way of dealing with it (including ignoring it) that doesn’t leave her holding the bag in the end… either suffering silently, or looking like a humourless you-know-what.

Jusarious

I find it interesting how this video has sparked debate. Showing it to my female colleagues has garnered laughter rather than contempt.I prefer to support women’s rights rather than comment due to the very nature of the subject. That being said it is important that men discuss this topic.Cheerleaders. The very idea is open to interpretation. My thoughts are women are strong enough to make the right choice for them and cheer leading is over analyzed as a sexuality construct when it may very well be a tribute to athleticism.

Speaker 1

Speaker 3 – Yes, that is all certainly possible. Again, I’m not necessarily just concerned with the intent of those who did it. I’m interested in the effect it has and how it’s perceived.Here’s an example:
Let’s say you have someone who, for whatever reason, is ignorant of the racial connotations of black people, cotton and watermelons. They dress a black person up in watermelon suit and parade them around, advertising “Cottonelle”.Obviously, people would be very upset. Should our response be “well, we didn’t intend that so it’s not a big deal. It was just a joke so why don’t you just get over it? Just have a laugh, it’s funny (to me)”We believe that the response is threatening to our sense of being “good people”, so we react this way. We’ve learned to characterize people who decry racism, sexism, oppression as sentimental and whinny. We have latched onto the idea of oppressive corporate-style language sanitation (which can be excessive since it’s about negating liability) and characterized entire movements by it, which is horribly misleading.For women this is a double whammy because they’re already viewed as hysterical.
http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Women_have_hysterectomy_from_the_word_hysteria_men_have_orchidectomy_from_the_word_orchid_How_do_these_different_terminologies_reflect_how_diseases_of_men_and_women_are_viewed
Hence one of the biggest obstacles to understanding of feminist issues.It isn’t about wanting to punish everyone who steps out of the “PC” line and label them as “sexist”. Nor is it to forcibly sanitizing the universe. It’s for people to understand the subtle messages embedded in so many seemingly innocuous things (with or without intent behind it) and begin to analyze the world around them.

Speaker 1

‎”Showing it to my female colleagues has garnered laughter rather than contempt.”Many black people “knew their place” too.Jusarious, have you ever considered what happens to a woman in a workplace when they don’t laugh when presented with sexism?Oh, and by the way. If you presented it to them in the context of this discussion, you’ve just shown them their place too.. Don’t worry though. They’ll probably be too intimidated to say anything…

Speaker 3

‎”Obviously, people would be very upset. Should our response be ‘well, we didn’t intend that so it’s not a big deal. It was just a joke so why don’t you just get over it? Just have a laugh, it’s funny (to me)'”.Oh, I agree, certainly it shouldn’t. I’m not convinced that the stunt really does qualify as sexism, but I’m fine with discussing its implications, and the obviously sexist way in which many people have responded to it.

Speaker 2

Just a quick comment Speaker 1….I am one of Jusarious’ co-workers and am a Woman. I take great offence to your comment that I would be too intimidated to say anything if I found something to be totally sexist and out of line. I also take offence with your comment that something would happen if I didn’t laugh when presented with sexism. I am sick and tired of MEN telling ME what is and isn’t sexist and how I should react to things such as the video of the goofy raptor devouring the cheerleader. Oh and btw…you made a SEXIST comment when you said that it was presumed that the raptor was male because the outfit/costume didn’t have pink on it, wasn’t wearing jewellery and a pink skirt….wow! who’s being sexist here.

Speaker 1

Pretending sexism doesn’t exist, isn’t un-sexist. Sorry

Speaker 1

I’m also not “telling you to be offended”. Absolutely no one should. However, you also don’t speak for every woman, any more than I do.
I realize that I didn’t necessarily choose the best jump-off point for hoping to be understood. I seem to have a propensity for uphill battles. In a way though, it’s the less obvious stuff that is more insidious and begs to be drawn out (at least in my mind). I saw this RIGHT after reading a story about yet another aboriginal woman to fall victim to foul play here in Manitoba. Our attitudes towards gender are in almost everything we do and relates to why men rape. This is why I no longer find it funny.
Anyway, I apologize if what I said seemed to imply that you or any woman might be deficient in some way in speaking out against sexism. My thoughts go towards many women who I’ve listened to who tell me that they feel pressure in their daily lives to laugh, when they are actually hurt for fear of judgment and ostricization. Obviously they don’t speak for you…

Speaker 3

This is a hard subject to discuss, obviously, because everyone has such strong feelings. I think that it’s fair to say that nobody’s trying to force anyone to do or feel any particular way, and that we’re all just trying to ensure that everyone has the same opportunities and the ability to be comfortable and safe in our society.

Speaker 1

I think we can argue until we’re blue in the face about whether or not this or that particular thing is sexist or not. This is a pitfall. If you argue logistics like this in the context of a romantic or other close relationship, you are destined to miss the point.If something carries a message that has the EFFECT of making another person feel encumbered in their person (think Maslow’s hierarchy of needs), then the only way to resolve it (regardless of whether their fears or perceptions of the originators intent are confirmed) is to acknowledge their feelings and work to resolve the issue. Logistical debates about whether or not your loved one should feel the way they do, is a great way to fast track to the lawyer’s office. The same principle applies to social issues.Of course you may have concerns that someone is accusing you of “being a sexist” rather than maybe having inadvertently said something that hurt them. OK. Fine. This is valid, but it doesn’t begin and end there. This is where you have to keep going and visit the rest of the issue, acknowledge each other’s concerns and change something going forward… or it just stays buried under the rug.There appears to be a great fear among men that women are out to get them and flip the power imbalance the other way, or at least to stifle our manhood. In years of delving into feminist literature, I’ve seen nothing to indicate anything of the sort.I have to reiterate that I’m not speaking for all women, but I do have a pretty good understanding of what tends to have this kind of effect in a world where 99% of the time, there IS a message between the lines (intended or not). In the broader scheme of things, this video is far from the worst I’ve seen. It’s also far from meaningless.

Flora

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. I agree with Speaker 3’s initial post, that I’m all for springboarding to a discussion of professional cheerleaders and sexism. But I’m just not seeing it in this video, really. And I’m all for attacking subtle stereotypes, especially gender roles in the media. I just don’t see the sexist undertones here, just some goofy fun with the available participants.
Jusarious
I want to be clear that I do not mirror your thoughts on this type of narrative. The “eating” of the cheerleader was obviously part of the show, albeit unexpected part of the show, with all parties informed and consenting. Should the Raptor eat a fan it would incite law suites for obvious reasons.

Cheerleading, while based on the show of female bodies in the past, has evolved to be a powerful and dramatic athletic event. Both males and females compete in teams against each other and for the attention of the fans.

Uniforms have changed to accent the body while providing the mobility and grace expected of such an athlete. Tagging along behind the scenes is a huge production crew ranging from choreographers to costume designers.

To make a long story short, to wage war on this type of display (Cheerleading) without understanding the people behind the program is disingenuous at best.

I think your efforts would be better placed in the islamic countries (or any country for that matter) currently prohibiting women from being seen, heard and smelled.

To put to rest the comment section portion of this discussion, I suggest avoiding it at all costs. Ignorings trolls is the best way to defeat them. Should you see a person face to face being a Troll then you should correct them, assuming it’s safe to do so. But feeding the trolls your comments only makes them grow stronger, and gives you a nose bleed.

Flora

I don’t think that simply because someone is offended by something validates their opinion or puts any onus on the offender to deal with it. Many parents are offended by sex education or “endorsement” of homosexuality in schools, but such offence requires no response apart from telling them to teach their children to be bigots on their own time. Islamic men might find my way of dressing and manner of speaking utterly depraved and offensive, but I owe them no apologies or acknowledgement. This is, of course, not a perfect analogy, but imagine if someone told you that your insistence that women share space with men was offensive to their Islamic beliefs. Would you acknowledge their concerns as valid, and avoid offending them in the future, as you suggest we should?That being said, I don’t agree with Jusarious on a lot of aspects of feminism (leading to many a heated debate), but this is not one of them. If you read into anything too much you can interpret in any light that you wish – perhaps this video is actually an implicit endorsement of creationism, as they portray dinosaur and human being sharing God’s creation together in the eternal struggle after the Fall (symbolized by the dinosaur eating the human). But that would just be silly.

Speaker 1

I guess I’m looking at several facts:
The fact that the person who originally posted it added the “…good riddance” quip.

I know not to expect much from youtube commenters, but the comments are almost exclusively about sexual exploitation (rape).

Flora I understand what you’re trying to say, but you’re still essentially arguing from intent. The most important fact I see here is that, just like the watermelon/cotton thing is “loaded”, so is the fact that she’s a woman in a role of sexual consumption/objectification (aka cheerleader) in a society that perpetually dehumanizes women. What I’m saying is going to sound like hyperbole, but it’s not because what I’m saying is any more hyperbolic than it would be if I was speaking about against the watermelon/cotton thing.

The ONLY difference is that cultural perception of women being oppressed has not hit the same critical mass that racial oppression has. THAT’S IT. Perception. To step outside of common perception about race used to bring out the same reactions (and in some places still does) that you are displaying right here, right now.

I’ll say it plainly. Sexism is more publically accepted than racism. Spend some time listening to “water cooler talk” in the office and you will probably see what I mean, especially if you work with older generations.

Jusarious, cheerleading being a great profession aside, mind warping, hate filled religious cults also to many good things. That argument doesn’t deal with the issues at hand.

Flora, you make a fair point in your last comment. However I’m not proposing that we roll over and grant every demand that people bring up. I’m talking about the nature of the discourse, not the logistics of public policy. As with an arguement in a personal relationship, a very important skill is being able to acknowledge and validate someone’s emotions without fearing that doing is the same as capitulating. The point is to get to the discourse rather than pouring efforts into dismissing feelings and ideas in self-defense. Feminist arguments 99% of the time are about characterizing and dismissing, and maintaining the status quo at all costs. It’s complicated because there are so many emotions. Do feminists ever falter in this too? Of course they do! Is that a reason to say “HA! See! They lose, I win!!”, or do we still try to get to the bottom of the real issues?

Dialectic, not Debate.

I read a quote on my drive this morning. “To understand someone, first you must love them.” I’m trying to absorb that myself as I think I miss it sometimes. I think everyone here is essentially a good person and I’m not looking to triumph or gloat. I just think I have an understanding that is very important. We can agree to disagree is we must, and I guess that is OK. If I have been making anyone feel attacked, I apologize and am willing to listen to YOUR feelings if you want to message me or whatever.

P.S. I realize I also have a (bad?) habit of drawing larger issues into a pointed discussion and I’m probably doing that again, but I tend to see things big picture, so it’s hard not to… not necessarily speaking specifically about people here with every point.

Speaker 1

So I don’t mean to imply that you, Flora are being dismissive. I feel that you are actually trying to engage the discussion. I also shouldn’t say that you are arguing from intent, but that I’m perceiving that that’s possibly how you’re thinking about it. I don’t know for sure.

Speaker 1

OK, I’ve had some time to wrestle with my thoughts on this, and here’s what I think. I think that if you took this same exact scenario and dropped it into a world that had never known sexism, then there would be nothing inherently sexist about it. It would simply be some silly fun (and it certainly is for some people now).

As it stands I still think that it contains negative meaning due to the context it exists in. However, I don’t think it was a very effective jump-off point for saying what I had to say, since it’s not an example that resonates well with my points, or with the audience.

I forget my own advice; that pounding out facts and logistics isn’t what helps people to see your point, and usually just entrenches people even more. Also, whether or not any of you agree with me on this particular point or not, doesn’t necessarily reflect on whether or not we share many of the ultimate values behind it, and I want to recognize that. I hope I have not alienated people too much with this and that we can still have productive dialectic on this and other topics. Thanks.

As you can see this is a touchy subject. You can clearly identify which speakers are women and which are men. A little hint, most of the speakers of men!

Please feel free to add to the conversation in the comments. I would be happy to debate anyone on this subject. If you are one of the people above I labeled as a speaker feel free to identify yourself and I will edit this post to include proper names.

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