I have not written about the Lingerie Football League because, well, I find it offensive. I am sure not many regular readers will be surprised by this. The league focuses on everything I find demeaning and insulting about media portrayals of women athletes: They must be perceived as sexy to men to get any ink.
The LFL is predicated on this belief. The women are playing in skimpy sexy underwear topped off by shoulder pads and helmets. There is lots of skin, lots of T & A, probably lots of wardrobe malfunctions, which I am sure lure the fans like crashes lure NASCAR fans. The team names are things like Bliss, Desire, Temptation and Fantasy.
It seems clear that the players are chosen for their appearance and heterosexiness as much as their football skills. Every one of them on the LFL web site has large breasts and small butts. Not one has muffin top or love handles. This is easy to see because that is what the photos focus on: lots of skin.
The video on the web site shows game action and, I will admit that what they feature there suggests that the women can play ball. There are lots of hard hits too. I worried if the helmets they wear provide enough protection given what we know now about concussions in sport. Hitting the turf in their skimpy “uniforms” looked painful too.
It actually felt a little creepy to watch the video. The uniforms are ridiculous – shoulder pads, helmets, thong underwear and push up bras. Are men really so shallow that this is necessary to get them to go watch women play sports?
So why am I writing about this? Well, one of the players has come out as a lesbian and she and other players from the LFL will be in Palm Springs for “lesbian spring break.” Any lesbian worth her rainbow tattoo knows that thousands of lesbians migrate to Palm Springs to participate in parties and events that go on at the same time that the annual LPGA golf tournament is happening there.
This tournament used to be called the Dinah Shore Nabisco and lesbians have been flocking to Palm Springs for years to party during the tournament though it is questionable how many actually watch the golf or even know a five iron from a sand wedge. Anyway, Amber Elizabeth will be there and so will some other players apparently. I guess the LFL sees lesbians as another potential market for their pigskin and woman skin events. Maybe some of us are.
If I sound like a cranky old feminist lesbian, maybe it is because I feel like one. I am usually the first to celebrate when lesbian athletes and coaches come out publicly. It is a good thing for the women who are choosing to live their lives honestly and it helps to challenge the prejudice against lesbians that still lingers in women’s sports. I suppose you could say that an openly lesbian lingerie football player is breaking a stereotype too, I’ll give you that. However, it doesn’t feel like a step forward for lesbians or women’s sports to me when any woman athlete, regardless of her sexual orientation, has to pander to beer drinking heterosexual men’s sex fantasies in order get attention.