Feminism, Pop-Culture | Posted by Asasia R on 10/25/2010

Too Sexual or Not Sexual Enough?

lingerie football: respecting the choice

lingerie football: respecting the choice

I recently saw a commercial for lingerie football. Basically, it’s a bunch of “hot”women running around playing tackle football in their underwear. At first I was appalled. Why is it that women don’t get to play football normally in the league and often at most high schools but they get the chance only when they’re doing it half naked? You don’t see men playing football in their underwear, so why do you see women? Isn’t that exploitation? Then, I realized that it’s their choice. If they feel confident in their sexuality and want to play football in their lingerie, that’s okay, they have the right. They are people, they are women, and they can do what they want with their bodies.

I saw something similar but had a totally different reaction. Recently Dianna Agron, Lea Michele, and Cory Monteith, all a part of the cast of Glee, did a photoshoot for GQ. Lea and Dianna are both in little clothes posing very sexually, showing off their lingerie. When I saw the pictures, I loved them. I thought the photoshoot looked great and I was proud of them for not being afraid to show their sexual sides though they might get a bad response. And that’s what happened. Already people are questioning whether or not the photoshoot was appropriate. Videos from the shoot showed them having lots of fun sexing it up for the pictures, so it’s okay right? They’re confident in their sexuality and they can do what they want with their bodies.

Glee, Sexuality and GQ

Glee, Sexuality and GQ

Why did I get a totally different response to something so similar? Once again, where is the line of how sexual women can be? When is it okay for a woman to be a sexual being without it being degrading towards the woman body? It’s difficult to know. It seems that you may be able to name a time or place, but there’s still going to be another situation that contradicts it. Where does a woman stand in this overly sexual society and when is it okay for her to do what she wants with her body without someone telling her she shouldn’t? No matter what way you go, there’s always going to be somone saying it’s wrong. If you dress modestly and wait to have sex, you’re a prude.
Asasia also writes for her own blog
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  • Ashley @ Nourishing the Soul @ at 11:54 am, October 25th, 2010

    I agree that this is a really complex issue. On the one hand, my initial reaction was that I’m not sure the lingerie-clad football players really did have a choice in the full sense of the word. Sure, they choose to play that way. But would they have made that decision if not for a sexualized culture and being pushed out of the sport in more traditional ways (like trying to wear actual clothes). On the other hand, I agree that women should have the right to dress however they feel comfortable. It’s tough.

  • Zoe @ at 1:39 pm, October 25th, 2010

    My problem with the GQ shoot is this. The guy that does the shoot, Terry Richardson, is notorious for being a creep. Google the picture he did that involved shoving a carnation in some girls vagina (get it? flower?). That aside, the guy who plays Finn gets to remain fully clothed while Quinn and Rachel (forgive me, I don’t know the actor names, only the character names) are dressed skimpily and provocatively. The gender bias there is pretty obvious; men are dominant and attractive while women are submissive and fawning over them. Lastly and this is what bothers me most: these are young women who play teenagers in a TV show being presented sexually in a grown man’s magazine. I wouldn’t call it pedophilia, quite, but it’s along those lines.

    As for the line of what is too sexual, well, the fact that there is a line is the problem. The fact that we as society feel the need to decide when a woman’s sexuality is appropriate or not. I’m guilty of doing this out of habit as I’m sure many feminists still are.

    It takes a lot of effort and will to unwrite what society has brainwashed us to do. But at least we can start.

  • Becca @ at 2:30 pm, October 25th, 2010

    You make a good point that women often can’t win in regards to their sexuality: either they’re not sexual enough, or they’re being overly sexual and are labeled as sellouts (or sluts).

    However, I generally try to determine who the targeted viewer is when looking at situations like these. As Zoe points out, the GQ photoshoot was clearly targeted to male readers, since the actor who portrays Finn stood in a t-shirt and jeans. THAT, more than anything, was what bothered me about the shoot.

    It definitely conveyed the message that straight, white women are sexual objects to be admired by men. Where was the rest of the cast? It would have been an AWESOME opportunity to embrace the diverse aspects of sexuality.

  • Quinc @ at 6:22 pm, October 25th, 2010

    I have to point out that these are more so examples of the pin up industry than they are of women expressing their sexuality. Creating sexy pictures (not even including actual pornography!) is big business, these women get paid big bucks.

    I would be a hypocrite to claim that all pornography or pseudo-pornography is directly harmful to women, but it’s ubiquity, and the relative dearth of a male equivalent does indicate, and probably enforces dangerous female objectification.

    The football lingerie is downright bizarre to me. Obviously someone high up has taken the maxim “sex sells” to heart. My worry is that these women don’t like sexing it up, but are willing to do so to play foot ball professionally. Also that either there is no demand, or that some male executives decided there would be no demand for a non-sexual female professional football league.

  • Seth @ at 6:34 pm, October 25th, 2010

    Female sexuality and sexual availability is a resource, it is a commodity.

    As such women are very sensitive to the manner In which other women employ this resource because it can, if implemented widely in a common fashion determine the market value of women and directly affects female status in society as a whole.

    Therefore perhaps the real question is, how can women best employ their sexual resource as a collective class as it relates to female status, power and return on investment.

    Personally, if I would advocate for the concentration and reservation of female sexuality for personal close relationships.

    Since female sexuality has moved from private and monogamous to public and promiscious after the Sexual Revolution things have become much more complicated in terms of women not only having to manage their own sexual commodity but the increasing need and desire to manage and define how females as a class employ their public sexual identity.

    Being that female sexuality is now part of women public identity the subject of how it should be managed is of hot debate between females as a class. Personally I think the cat is out of the bag so to speak i.e. women are in fact more so “sex objects” now more than ever.

    However to be truly free under matriarchy it is important for women’s sexual resourse no longer be exclusive to marriage and the family. This has already happened but in order to make female sexuality truly free it is important for women to end its privatization to marriage and the family unit.

    For women to be truly liberated you must destroy the private social contract between the sexes. For the most part this element has been successful but we must not forget the male part of the equation. This would involve males embracing the public liberated female sexual model and abandoning the idea of female sexual exclusivity.

    Men to a large degree already have. Personally I go out and get laid on the weekends. Sex comes as part of the deal. A woman who holds on to the idea of privatization of her sexuality in the hopes of employing towards the ends of gaining male commitment is living in the days of patriarchy. I really don’t think that men should have any obligation to a woman and “her” children under the matriarchal family model either.

    Again I think men are beginning to embrace the idea and respond to women’s liberation and independence accordingly. After all female liberation and independence can truly be defined by the lack of dependency upon a man. As such a woman and her children should collectively be supported and raised by the collective tax base and not individual men.

    Only then will feminisms goals be achieved. Karl Marx knew this as well.

  • A @ at 8:48 pm, October 25th, 2010

    @ Seth– are you saying that the goal of feminism is matriarchy? If so, I disagree- it’s equality between the sexes.

  • Natalia @ at 12:00 am, October 26th, 2010

    More than anything right now, what really bothers me about this whole subject is the USAGE of sex in the media. I know that sex sells, but for god’s sake it is way too overdone! I’m seriously getting sick of it. I know we’re sexual beings, but does sex have to be a fucking sales strategy for every advertisement now a days?! Do producers and people in advertisement have no fucking creativity anymore? I’ve never seen Glee, but I’m pretty sure it’s a good show which has made it so popular…so why the HELL did it have to go to the next “level” and sell sex? I’m not being a prude, but sex is always the next level for every single “art” form. It’s getting tiring.

    At the beginning I’d get upset because the media would objectify women’s bodies, but honestly, it’s not even that anymore. Seriously, Miley Cyrus for example, why did she have to go to the next step and start selling sex? Does she honestly have no capacity to rely on her other skills?

    I agree that there’s a very fine line (sad, but true) but I don’t buy the whole “OOh i’m so comfortable with my sexuality that I just must portray it 24/7″. You know those people in junior and high school who will do whatever it takes to be popular? Whether it’s going to parties or wearing the latest trend, but those people are DESPERATE and you can tell when they are trying. But the “cool” kid doesn’t do anything, he walks down the hallway and he is just cool like that. Same thing with sexuality, those women who TRULY are comfortable with their sexuality, don’t have to show it by wearing just their underwear. Those women can wear a turtle neck and walk into a room and ooze sex appeal. Not many women have that, but it is soo there. To me, that’s why true sexuality really is. It’s not what we see in Christina Aguilera’s videos.

  • kanadra @ at 1:32 am, October 26th, 2010

    I don’t know if it’s just me, but slightly aside from the “sexuality” issue, I can’t see how “Lingerie football” can be at all practical? Can there be any practical purpose to running around, tackling one another in your underwear? It sounds, to me, like the stereotypical male fantasy of women at a slumber party, bouncing around in their lace nighties and hitting each other with pillows, and giggling.
    And then there’s the fact that –at least where I’m from– it gets fricken cold in football season! I wouldn’t want to be outside in 5’c weather, with nothing but my underwear on. :/

  • blakerivers @ at 2:00 am, October 26th, 2010

    It’s not important what people are complaining about. People are always going to complain. You free the slaves, they’ll complain. You give women suffrage, they’ll complain. If you do anything to challenge the status quo, they’ll complain. The author of this article states specifically that she is concerned about public response. That is somewhat understandable, but remember that the public mindset is very primitive. I mean, what do you expect, people are morons really. If this were 200 years ago most of you would be trying to convince me that slavery is not only appropriate but necessary for the economy. And that’s the truth.

    Quinc is absolutely right. About the football, people can choose to do all sorts strange things when unfavorable conditions give them little alternative.

    No, kanadra, there is no reason for the lingerie football except sexual exhibitionism. Lingerie football is evidence that women’s endeavors only have value if they have a marketable sex value. I hope you understand what this means. It sure pisses me the f*ck off.

  • K8 AH @ at 1:15 pm, October 26th, 2010

    I love the idea of women playing professional football! I am happy to see that there are even a few players out there in both high school and college. The whole Lingerie Football thing makes me really sad. I would love to watch a serious league!

  • Jake @ at 4:37 pm, October 26th, 2010

    Lol, Seth.

  • Layla @ at 8:59 pm, October 26th, 2010

    There is a difference between expressing your sexuality for yourself and expressing your sexuality for solely men. Lingerie football is a perfect example of being sexy for a male audience.
    It angers me when so many decent girls who are playing high school and college football on male teams get a lot of crap for simply being female. I’ve read so many smart-ass responses to their actions, such as:
    “That little lady might get hurt if she’s not careful.”
    “If she’s not QB, I don’t care.”
    “Girls will never be able to play with the big dogs, they should stop trying to hard.”
    Yet, if a woman dresses in a skimpy or skanky outfit, she gets a free ticket and gets praise from millions of guys.

    I know I might get flack for this, but: Even if they are free to dress however they want to, I’m not letting them off the hook. Then again, I’m just a prude that way.

  • jeff @ at 12:38 pm, October 27th, 2010


    Yeah, you (and we men generally) probably shouldn’t *dictate* what women and feminism are and should be.

    FWIW, I find the sexy football annoying. If a woman wants to play football in her underwear, that’s fine, but they should also be allowed to play football in full gear if they want. With the entire league playing in underwear it’s not really a choice. It’s either naked football or no football.

  • jeff @ at 12:52 pm, October 27th, 2010

    Actually, while I’m ranting about women and sport, what is the deal with women’s sports having rule changes to reduce physical contact?

    I mean, in women’s ice hockey, body checking is illegal. Same with lacrosse–there is a dramatic difference in the amount of contact allowed between players.

    Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing inherently WRONG with a more skill based, less physical version of ice hockey or lacrosse, I’m just annoyed that someone thought women needed to be *protected* from physical contact.

    They don’t. I know a lot of women who play rugby, which is just as physical as the game the men play.

  • SarahC @ at 4:45 pm, October 27th, 2010

    I think Seth actually has a point somewhere. While some terms are a bit misused (Matriarchy is just the reverse of patriarchy, not a system of gender equality), and he does still seem to hold that women should have children and not earn a living, he does observe that the social contract between a man and a woman has changed.

    The difficulty with this contract is how to renegotiate it without taking advantage of either men or women.

  • Seth @ at 9:09 pm, October 27th, 2010


    I believe you are incorrect. Feminism seeks female liberation from monogamous marriage and the patriarchal family i.e. men as part of the family and the lives of children.

    Can you explain the feminist advocation for the dismantling of the patriarchal family and the reasoning behind the associated laws which have been instituted to remove a man’s rights to his own body and the fruits of its labor along with his children?

    Can you explain the growing amount of fatherless families, the 40% single woman birth rate and its association to the lowest marriage rates in American history? Can you explain why these things all happened concurrently after feminist marriage laws were instituted?

    If feminism is about equality then why do women institute laws which are unequal and give unequal protection under law by gender? If it is about equality then why are feminists against shared custody of children after divorce? If it is about equality then why did women petition the government to devote the stimulus package to women (a venture that was successfully implemented by the feminist party I might add)

    Why did women do this? Don’t you know that by feminist law these same jobless men have a woman who divorced them to financially support? Do you know that if men do not give women our money we are placed inside of cages? Why did women do this. WHY!!!

    Why if males only constitute 38% of college degrees do women have “women first” laws such as Affirmative Action for college admissions? I would like an answer please. Also, why aren’t women required to register their bodies for military service? Why do women and government have property rights over the male body?

    Why can’t men have equal protection under federal law for domestic violence? Why don’t men have any rights or choices in marriage or divorce? If it is about equality then why do women use sex sparingly so as to oppress, dominate and manipulate men? Why are we not sexual equals? Why don’t feminists define sex and conception as a mutual act requiring mutual responsibility and thus the mutual right to abort such responsibility but rather something a man does to a woman and is solely responsible for?

    Why in all aspects is male obligation, liability and responsibility used to enable female choices and lack of mutual obligation, liability and responsibility….why???

    I really do expect an answer. You owe men and boys an explanation don’t you think?

  • Marisa @ at 10:13 pm, October 27th, 2010

    @Seth: I don’t understand. It seems to me like you’re trying to blame all women- and demand explanations from them- for things just a few have done. And anyway, a lot of things you mentioned are what feminists fight against to begin with. I believe that men *should* have equal domestic protection, and that women *should* be included in military drafts. I am not against shared custody either.
    Sure, there are some women out there who fight for a matriarchal society, but they don’t represent all feminists.
    I’m sorry if this is me assuming, but it seems to me like you have something personal against one (or some) particular woman and want to take it out on the rest of us.

  • GloriousSteinem @ at 5:48 am, October 28th, 2010

    Umm, I’m confused, y’all… is this not a feminist site? The truth is that it’s not a question of women being “comfortable” enough with their bodies to go out there and do things like this, it’s about how the mainstream media is continuously objectifying women!!
    How can we (‘we’ being women) ever expect to get any kind of respect or be taken seriously out there when we are either just seen as sex objects with no mental capability whatsoever, or completely disregarded because we don’t meet certain physical and aesthetic ideals that the world has set for us?
    Why is it so hard for people to represent women as intelligent, independent beings who can govern themselves and not just random pin-ups for men to get off on?
    The truth is that, no matter how supposedly “comfortable” these women might be with flaunting it, they’re helping to instill an age-old belief that has held women back for so long: the belief that women are men’s subordinates. That they’re just there for pleasure and nothing more.
    Please consider this the next time that you see a picture of a scantily-clad woman rubbing up against a fully-dressed man.

  • annonymous14 @ at 4:46 pm, November 15th, 2010

    After reading reactions from various bloggers about the glee photo shoot, (in this article and others) and the reactions to lingerie football in this article, it is clear there is no one-size fits all answer to this article. Our media outlets consistently portray women as sex objects because that is what sells. The male gaze is still alive and well but that doesn’t mean our culture isn’t progressing from that. This ideal can be reversed and be successful in popular culture, you don’t have to look any further than the Twilight Series for that.

    I agree with the previous poster GloriousSteinem that no matter how comfortable these women are they are reinforcing the deeply entrenched belief that women are there for the pleasure of men. However, as a believer in the freedom to choose, if a female wants to be depicted in this way and has no objections then she should be allowed to. It is our society that makes these photos into something that is valued. Both males and females alike are at fault.

    It is hard to get away from age old beliefs and this article is confronting that issue head on. I can’t help but think that our popular culture needs more representations of women as intelligent, educated and independent, but that has been said multiple times already in this comments section. Fundamentally our culture has to place values on those characteristics and that is what we need to keep striving for. Keep voicing opinions like these and more and more people will continue to take notice.

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