Friday, April 29, 2016

Is the University of Washington Objectifying Women?



This picture has been making waves on the internet over the past few days. It is so controversial because some believe that it objectifies women. I was a cheerleader for five years, so I look at this a little bit differently and I thought I would share my opinions with you. 


From first glance, everything on here seems pretty standard...

When you're cheerleading you're supposed to be a part of a pack and you shouldn't stand out from the others (either positively or negatively). A lot of what's written reflects that. Like the black clothes totally makes sense so the coaches eyes go to the best performers, not the ones wearing the neon shorts. The makeup and hair is important to give a uniform look so once again no one stands out for physical appearance instead of skill. 

The next bit that I noticed were safety things. Like cheer shoes are super important so you don't have flyers with crazy shoes digging into the hands of their bases (been there, done that). And you can't have jewelry because it could get ripped out or caught on something during tumbling and stunting. 

The one thing that bothers me about this is the "physically fit, athletic physique." UW has a pretty competitive team for both cheer and dance, so I think that it is a little unnecessary to include this. Like if you can throw a roundoff handspring tuck (their tumbling minimum), then you are definitely physically fit and athletic. 

I get why this could be seen as objectifying, especially for people who don't understand cheerleading and don't see why some of these things are necessary. Do I think that this infographic was the best way at relaying the message? No. But when I was cheering all of this stuff was told either in person or through email, so nothing about this is unique except the fact that national media picked it up. I want everyone to know that this is not saying that someone would not make the team because of their makeup or hair, but that it's there for team uniformity and to help the coaches/judges pick out the people that stand out because of talent easier. I think that's the biggest part of this that's being taken out of context. 

Let me know what you think of this in the comments! Do you think that it's objectifying women? 
-Sienna

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