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Friday, 13 June 2014

No Cheers In NFL

Who would have thought it .... apparently American Football Cheerleaders are sometimes subject to some 'sexism' when being selected or training .... with such things as 'jiggle tests', as well as tests of athletic dance ability, being required to get or retain a place on the teams.

A 'jiggle test' by the way is where they are judged on their physical appearance in their outfit, and told which parts of their bodies are problem areas they need to work on. Too many warnings for an out-of-shape body could lead to sitting out a game, or even the sack.

Really!! What shocking times we live in, when a teenage nymphet, in a skimpy leotard or costume, and willing to do acrobatic contortions to entertain a largely male crowd, can be asked to demean herself by going a 'jiggle test' before winning a place on a dance team, where she will then happily cavort about. Of course that cavorting about, can mean that they face heckling, and possibly, groping, at sponsors / promotional events. As one ex-cheerleader said "Let's be honest. You're an NFL cheerleader and you're standing in front of 10,000 drunk guys all the time".

Traditionally, its never been a well paid role in the National Football League scheme of things, with many cheerleaders making around $100 (£60) per show or less. They receive no compensation for time spent practising or working at promotional events, and only one club, the Seattle Seahawks, has said that they pay cheerleaders an hourly wage and overtime.

Seahawks Cheerleaders aka 'Sea Gals' On Hourly Rates

But these poor conditions are mainly fuelled by the fact that many, many, teen girls are willing to do the work for peanuts, as its a chance to break into Playboy, or even TV, and of receiving a very thorough dance training. Although to be fair, on the plus side, the girls can pose for calendar shots, which are then sold as fund-raiser's and the most popular ladies are able to pocket the profits from their 'personal sales'.

Of course, given all these Dickensian working conditions (on a par with chimney sweeps if you ask me),  they have been advised to sue .... this is America after all. Especially if they believe that by undergoing and failing said 'jiggle test' they didn't actually get the job, were made to sit on the bench, or feel demeaned in some other way. So now three trial lawsuits have gone in against the NFL, citing that the complainants:
  1. Aren't compensated fairly for their work, and
  2. Are subject to degrading work conditions, and unwanted sexual contact.
  3. That they often have to pay for certain beauty products such as skin tanning sessions and gels for fair skinned dancers.
  4. Pay up front for their promotional calendars, and therefore lose money if they don't all sell.
  5. Are asked to do 'voluntary' promotional work, which is in effect unpaid labour.
In the end, said a lawyer representing some of the girls, it doesn't matter that there are thousands of women lining up to do the job, or that they get perks by being associated with the NFL, but 'The NFL isn't just about football. It's about pageantry and spectacle, and above all, commerce, bringing in $9bn (£5.3bn) last year. The cheerleaders, she says, should get their share' ..... ah, that's the important bit 'get their share'.

Well suing will no doubt bring a bit of sanity to a world gone mad ....

2 comments:

  1. Legitimate cries for a fair day's pay are muddied by the hypocritical complaints of sexism in an inherently sexist pursuit.
    I don't like the argument that thousands of women are lining up to do the job ; the job is obviously worth what it's worth and the fact that there isn't a shortage of labour shouldn't excuse an employer for paying peanuts. Employers, while hiding behind market forces on the one hand to underpay, continue to reap the fruits of that job on the other. A job should pay what it's worth with the best person fulfilling the role.

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    Replies
    1. Still you can't get round the fact that this is basically synchronised troupe 'go go ' disco dancing ... well maybe pole dancing in the modern parlance. yet there's a queue a mile long to do it for free. So maybe that is what the job is obviously worth ... peanuts.

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