“Girls just want to have fun…” commented a male friend when I asked him for a bloke’s view on lingerie football. Huh? On a footy field? In a skimpy bra and undies? With the likelihood that one of your boobs will be squashed like a sultana? So not fun.
If you haven’t heard of Lingerie Football you’re about to hear a lot more. Recent news that the delightful water-skiing champ and boxer, Sydneysider Lauryn Eagle, is set to join America’s Lingerie Football League (LFL) has no doubt got a few feminists pulling out their leg hair. Me included (well, what’s left of it). Earlier this year the LFL announced plans to expand into Australia in 2013. The first exhibition game is planned for spring 2012.
Women playing sport: fantastic. Women playing footy: even better. Women playing this brutish game near naked: frightening! I hate lingerie football. It objectifies and demeans women. It’s a mix of breasts and brawls for the sheer pleasure of male eyeballs. It’s screwed-up soft porn. It belittles other female athletes who fight hard for recognition and to earn a decent dollar from their sport.
Let me tell you about LFL: it started as The Lingerie Bowl, a half-time spectacle during the Super Bowl on a pay-per-view basis. You bet it was a success, so in 2009 10 teams played for a season. It now has 12 teams with one game a week for 20 weeks. The teams play seven-a-side American-style football – 17-minute halves – with positions like quarterback and centre. And yes, they tackle. Big time. The women wear helmets with clear face shields, shoulder pads, elbow and knee pads and… BRAS, BRIEFS AND GARTERS! (When joining the LFL, players must sign a basic contract that includes a clause about “accidental nudity” during games.) Oh, it gets better. League founder Mitchell Mortaza said he created the LFL to give women who play sports some fans. Mitchell mate, you’ve got it so wrong. LFL coaches have been trying to convince the American public that it’s not “Bimbo Bowl” – it’s real athletes playing real football with real tackles and real stances…that’s right people, it’s about the “football”.
What sort of message is this sending women? This one: that we need to run around a football field near naked to get noticed. It’s another case of women using their bodies to entertain men. I can hear Aussie blokes making excuses to their wives already: “Oh, but it’s sport, sweetie.”
I’m not putting down these LFL athletes personally: I’m sure many are intelligent, smart and adorable. They have amazing bodies – toned, fit and athletic – and arguably healthier than ones on a Victoria’s Secret catwalk. Kudos to their toughness: they play a full-contact, jaw-breaking, bone-crunching sport. Boy, I couldn’t do it. But if women are truly passionate about playing the likes of gridiron, NRL, AFL, they should join their local clothed female team. Imagine the media mayhem if Brisbane Roar decided to play sans shirts? Or St George ditched their shorts? Or Collingwood donned G-strings in front of a packed MCG? Now that’s a disturbing thought.
Thoughts? Would you watch Lingerie Football League? How would you feel if your partner watched it?
Felicity Harley is the editor of Women’s Health. You can follow her on Twitter here