Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Cheerleader Addendum

When I wrote my Johnny Weir post last week I originally went off on a pro-cheerleading rant in the middle of it which I subsequently erased. But Lily Stark White expressed sadness at my doing so, so here it is in all its ranty glory.

*The point is made very well in Bring It On. In the film, Eliza Dushku's character, Missy, cheers because her school doesn't have a girl's gymnastics team. But none of the girls in that film give much of a shit about football or whatever. They have their own (maligned) sport. Hey. Have you seen what those girls can do on ESPN? If curling qualifies as a sport, so can cheering. Another thing I find kind of interesting about cheerleader hatred, is that it seems somewhat divorced from jock hatred in that many people who loath jocks and were victimized by them in high school, enthusiastically watch football and basketball and baseball. With cheerleading, the skill of the girls who participate is pretty much dismissed, and all that remains is a pretty broadly felt contempt. The images of both cheerleaders and football players have been highly sexualized by our culture, the difference being that with the boys who play football, these perceptions are pretty solidly tied to what they do, i.e. play a sport. With the cheerleaders, the sexy mean girl image is seen more of a state of being centered around the heavily fetishized outfit, rather than tied to the activity itself.


n said...

THank you for putting it back. I think any rant that roams freely from Ice Skating to Cheerleading must be seen in it's most perfect whole form.

Reading this reminds me why I value our friendship so much.

(I commit to actually posting on your blog as opposed to reading it and then talking to you about it when I see you!)

Anonymous said...


That Fuzzy Bastard said...

I always thought the cheerleader hatred stemmed mostly from their position atop the girls' social hierarchy. In most high schools, sports are the center of the school, and anyone involved in them is at the top of the heap. In pre-Title IX schools, cheerleaders were the only girls on the field (and even after, football remains Sport #1 in a lot of states). So the hatred of cheerleaders, and their sexy/mean image, comes from the fact that they're the girls with the highest position, and therefore the most power to abuse.

miconian said...

I liked how, in Bring It On, the football team is a joke, and the athletes are insecure about their importance relative to the cheerleaders.

I was a more or less a geek in high school, and I still have no interest in sports... to me, the sports fandom of fellow non-athletes has always seemed strange.

And at my school, we had many types of cheerleader... the "cheerleaders" in the traditional outfits with pom-poms were basically the gushy happy all-American types. Personally, I liked the "drill team," which seemed to involve more skill. Although I definitely fetishized the outfits. I'm not sure it's possible to put any group of athletic teen girls in a uniform and have that uniform not be fetishized.