Tag Archives: objectification

Are Cheerleaders An Endangered Profession?


There are certain professions that go extinct and for perfectly valid reasons. Occupations like elevator operator, switchboard operators, and milkmen are all jobs that just don’t have a place in the economy or society anymore. Technology and trends have rendered them unnecessary or obsolete.

For a small, but vocal contingent of regressive individuals with a low threshold for outrage, there’s a particular occupation that they’d like to add to that list. That is the profession/hobby of cheerleading, specifically the kind that involves parading beautiful women in sexy attire so they can dance, shake pom-poms, and get a crowd excited. Hell, it’s not like there’s anything inherently appealing about that.

That last sentence was sarcasm, by the way. I want to make clear that, as both a man and an avid sports fan, I love cheerleaders. They embody so many wonderful concepts about the world. They combine sports, sex appeal, dancing, and excitement. They bring happiness, excitement, and spirit to an event. There is literally no downside.

Unfortunately, that regressive crowd who insist on seeing sexism, misogyny, and oppression at every corner sees none of that. They only see beautiful women being paraded around in sexy attire for horny men to gawk at. It doesn’t matter if those women choose to do so or are paid to do. Beautiful women attracting the attention of horny men is seen as inherently oppressive to all women everywhere.


That was sarcasm too. I’m sorry if I’m using more than usual, but I find it’s the best way to highlight the sheer absurdity of this attitude. However, it’s an absurdity with serious implications because it reflects a growing trend. Now, in an era where it’s suddenly scandalous to depict the female body in any sexual context, cheerleading is a growing target.

It’s a target that has already taken a few hits. Earlier this year, Formula One Racing announced that it would no longer utilize grid girls, who are basically cheerleaders for racing. This act was cheered by the radical anti-sex feminist crowd. It was probably secretly cheered by priests, mullahs, and monks, as well. While it did inspire somewhat of a backlash, it hasn’t stopped that same crowd from aiming at other targets.

More recently, NFL cheerleaders are in the spotlight. In terms of cheerleading, as a profession, this is basically going for the very top of the hierarchy. The NFL is for cheerleaders what the Pro Bowl is for NFL players. It’s seen as the very pinnacle of the profession and it may be in danger.

It hasn’t helped that there have been some distressing scandals involving how some NFL cheerleaders are treated. The recent scandal involving the Washington Redskins cheerleading squad has only added more fuel to the outrage. Never mind that the facts of these scandals are limited and anecdotal, in some cases. It gives the regressive crowd everything they need to cry sexism and misogyny.

Now, none of this is to downplay some of the real issues surrounding cheerleading, as a profession. There are certainly issues with respect to how much cheerleaders are paid and how their lives are micromanaged. Those issues should be addressed and reformed. However, that’s not the conversation anyone wants to have.

Instead, cheerleading is getting lumped into other outdated traditions like arranged marriages, virginity tests, and being forced to cover their ankles in public. It’s not a profession or a passion that needs to be reformed and improved. It’s something that needs to be outright purged from society.

That’s not just an extreme reaction to a job that isn’t even the most dangerous or the most prone to sex scandals. It’s an attack on the very idea that beautiful, sexy women can and should be used to promote anything, be it a sports team or a fast food meal. The problem isn’t how the job is unfairly managed. It’s the job itself.

From the perspective of cheerleading’s opponents, it objectifies the female body and commodifies female sexuality for the consumption of men. In an era where sexually harassing a woman is seen as the ultimate evil, whereas sexually abusing a man isn’t nearly as outrageous, that’s just unacceptable.

The attitudes of the women who seek this profession don’t matter. The attitudes of the men who enjoy the sexiness and excitement that cheerleaders inspire especially don’t matter. All that matters is that cheerleaders are too sexually stimulating to the masses and that’s feeding a culture of misogyny and sexism. I wish that were sarcasm, but that’s what these regressive people genuinely believe.

For them, undermining the freedom and agency of those who want to pursue cheerleading and those who want to admire cheerleaders is a price they’re willing to pay. While some, like the Grid Girls, try to fight back, they’re facing an uphill battle and it’s one that cheerleaders might end up losing.

That’s because these are exceedingly sensitive times. Just trying to inject reason and criticism into the movement against sexism is subject to irrational outrage. Matt Damon found that out the hard way. More and more, people are just avoiding the conversation altogether because it just keeps fueling more outrage.

The current dynamic is as simple as it is unfair. If you stand up for cheerleaders, then the regressive crowd can just claim you’re a sexiest who wants to gawk at beautiful women. Even if you’re a woman speaking on behalf of cheerleaders, your criticism can be cast aside because you’re just brainwashed by the patriarchy and you’re for the objectification of women.

Never mind the fact that the very concept of objectification is fundamentally flawed. Never mind the fact that that flawed concept is also prone to some pretty disturbing double standards. The protests against cheerleading is framed as a protest against sexism, misogyny, and patriarchal oppression. It doesn’t matter how wrong or misguided that notion is. That’s the perception and there’s just no way to win that argument.

These days, being called a sexist is bad for business and for your profession. I believe the regressive crowd knows that, to some extent. They understand that the NFL is a business and one that has already been ravaged by negative press. Their success and their profits are dependent on their brand. If they see something as potentially damaging to their brand, then they’re going to either get rid of it or downplay it.

I’m not good at predicting the future, but depending on how these recent cheerleading scandals play out, I suspect that the NFL might just slowly phase out cheerleaders, altogether. It’s the path of least resistance. Keeping them around means keeping the outrage around. That’s just more risk and frustration than it’s worth.

It would be another major loss, one far bigger than the loss of the Grid Girls. However, as much as I love cheerleaders and the sex appeal they bring, I can totally understand why a major organization like the NFL would resort to such an extreme. By just removing cheerleaders, altogether, the crowd of regressive outrage will move onto their next crusade and, hopefully, leave them alone.

It’s a scenario that nobody wins. If the NFL ends up eliminating cheerleaders, it won’t be because they’ve seen the error of their ways and are now champions of women’s empowerment. They’re just protecting their brand. They’re trying to stop the whining, an approach that only offers the illusion of progress and not actual progress.

Personally, I hope the NFL resists the outrage. The more ground we give to regressive attitudes, the more regressive our society becomes. This is a crowd that won’t stop until everything that might potentially evoke sexual feelings or portray women in a sexy way is either eliminated or stigmatized.

As both a fan of all things sexy and an aspiring erotica/romance writer, that’s not a world I want to live in. That’s not a world that even other women want to live in, as the Grid Girls have shown. It’s a boring, unsexy, downright dystopian world that’s worth resisting and I hope there are plenty of cheerleaders, male and female alike, who will cheer on that effort.

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Filed under Current Events, gender issues, media issues, political correctness, sex in society, sexuality, sports

Sex-Positive vs. Sex-Negative Feminism

I know I keep saying I don’t like talking about feminism. I know I make it a point to belabor that concept way more than I should. Well, it still needs to be belabored.

It still needs to be emphasized too because I really don’t want to get too deep into this issue. It’s only going to distract from the larger purpose of this blog, which is to get people interested in issues that will make them inclined to by more romance/erotica novels, hopefully the ones I write.

Well, as much as I don’t want to talk about this, there still a few more things that I feel need to be said. Then, we can get back to talking about more interesting topics, like the several different kinds of orgasms. Again, if this is the kind of discussion that makes you want to punch your computer screen, you may want to skip this article and Google “cute baby pigs” to cheer yourself up. Here, I’ll even help.

Still with me? Did the cute baby pigs help? If not, then I’ve done all I can. It’s up to you to brace yourself from here on out because I am going to talk about feminism again. I want to get this over with as much as you so let’s do this.

I didn’t originally intend to write another post on feminism, but during my research (which is basically nothing more than multiple Google searches) for my article on sexual objectification, I came across an issue that ties in closely with this concept. It’s an issue that highlights an ongoing struggle within feminism that, at least from the perspective of a straight male who writes romance/erotica, is a major source of division and disdain among those in this field.

A big part of the issues the surrounding sexual objectification of women in movies, TV, and video games comes from these sets of assumptions that certain feminists hold regarding female sexuality. These assumptions include esoteric concepts like “rape culture” and “male gaze.” I won’t discuss these concepts at great length, if only because they require even more assumptions than I can reasonably make for this discussion.

However, these assumptions are at the core of a larger conflict. That conflict is between feminists who consider themselves sex-positive and those who are more sex-negative, who are often referred to as radical feminists. It’s not an irrelevant conflict. Sex is pretty damn important in any issue that involves either gender. As an aspiring romance/erotica writer, I know how important it is.

In that sense, it’s completely understandable that there would be disagreements among feminists about how to handle sex. Hell, there are disagreements among men about how to handle sex, but it’s more likely to involve whether breasts or butts are sexier. With women, there are more issues at play here and these are issues wholly unique to women.

As a man, I really can’t contribute much. As I’ve said before, I believe that women’s issues are best handled by women and men like me have next to nothing to contribute. However, since men have sex too and it is kind of important to us, I feel like I can add at least something to this conversation. I’ll just try my best to be polite and thoughtful about it.

First, here’s a little background on the conflict. Back in the 1970s, a time when wearing bell-bottoms wouldn’t earn you awkward glares, the emerging feminist movement developed some radical elements, as all movements do. Just look at recent trends in boy bands for proof of that.

Within these radical strains of feminism, this extreme ideology developed on issues involving pornography, prostitution, and marriage. These strains saw all these things as inherent evils of a patriarchal, white heterosexual male dominated society that must be destroyed, outlawed, or overthrown. Pretty much anything men deemed sexy was considered wrong. Even by non-patriarchal standards, it’s pretty extreme.

In response to these radical strains, which also created some nasty PR for those who didn’t want to live in world devoid of sexiness, a different strain of feminism emerged. This was sex-positive feminism and, as the name implies, they had a much more positive view about sexy issues.

That’s not to say they didn’t oppose certain patriarchal traditions. They most certainly did. However, they did not agree with their radical counterparts that the world needed to be devoid of pornography, prostitutes, and sexy Super Bowl ads. A society like that isn’t very free or just. Look at Saudi Arabia for proof of that.

It’s an entirely reasonable response. It happens in every movement that gets too radical. One part goes too far so another has to emerge to counter it. It’s like a house party that’s starting to get out of hand. Someone needs to step in before they burn the whole house down.

This debate between sex-positive feminism and radical feminism remains unresolved and will probably never be resolved. As is often the case with ideology, be it feminism or opinions on a message board, people are fairly entrenched in their beliefs.

They will not, and in some cases cannot, change their minds on an issue until there is a clear benefit to doing so. I’m not going to try to change anyone’s mind with this post. I know I’ll fail. Instead, I’m going to try and assess this conflict within a proper context.

Since the issue of sexual objectification was the catalyst for this post, I’ll use this to help make my point. There are cases when women (and men to some extent) are overly objectified and exploited. Slavery, forced labor, and forced prostitution reduce women and men to glorified slabs of meat whose thoughts and feelings have the same value as a dead fly. Those are crimes. Those should be fought.

However, the picture of a sexy woman in lingerie or a man in tighty-whitties should not be lumped into the same category. The same goes for the porn we consume and the romance/erotica that guys like me write. We can, and sometimes do, sexualize things to an extent that sends a bad message.

Nobody should assume that a shampoo endorsed by Jennifer Lawrence is going to make someone as beautiful as she is. Nobody should assume that a diet pill endorsed by David Beckham is going to make them as fit as he is. Nobody should assume they can fuck like porn stars after watching a few hours of porn. This is that obscure gray area where we, as a society, have to inform one another that the real world still exists.

Yeah, it sucks. It has limits. Some of us are incapable of exceeding those limits while others have more opportunities than they deserve. However, that doesn’t mean that we should obsess over making sure nothing is sexually objectifying to anyone. That’s not possible. Human beings are sexual creatures. We are going to see our media and each other through a sexual lens. It’s just how we’re wired. It’s part of what makes us human.

This is where the radical feminists get too radical and where the radical Men’s Right’s Activists follow suit. In this extreme context, a few stains on a couple shirts warrants throwing out an entire wardrobe. One crack in a single window warrants demolishing the entire building. Can you see why that approach is problematic, not to mention needlessly destructive?

It already manifests in ways that are disingenuous to women and men alike. Recently, Playboy magazine featured its first Muslim woman wearing a hijab. Naturally, it’s going to generate plenty of criticism from a population of religious zealots who think their god wants women to be glorified pets/baby-makers. However, even some women got worked up over this.

One of them was a blogger named Nishaat Ismail. In many respects, she takes on the radical feminist ideology that all sexual media is inherently exploitative towards women. Considering that many Islamic countries continue traditions that are grossly exploitative towards women, it’s pretty ironic. Look up “honor killings” for proof of that.

It is a twisted form of irony that radical feminists would share the same sentiment as religious zealots, who would prefer to see women subjugated and censored in a way that even Christian Grey would find excessive. Ms. Ismail did try to make her criticism sound reasonable though, but the irony is still there.

Blogger Nishaat Ismail also questioned in an opinion column the wisdom of Tagouri associating with an institution “based on the objectification of women.”

“Are the voices of women — and in particular Muslim women — buried so deep under the cries of those who claim to speak on our behalf that our only available response is (to) involve ourselves with Playboy, a magazine that has solely existed for the past 63 years for men to gawp at the bodies of half-naked women?” wrote Nishaat.

“Is this really how we reclaim our own narrative?”

I can actually answer that to some degrees. Yes, it’s part of how you reclaim your own narrative. You’re a woman. You’re a human being. Humans are sexual creatures. So why suppress what you are? Celebrate it!

There are flaws in our society and some of those flaws dis-proportionally affect women. There’s no doubt about that. We live in an imperfect society full of imperfect people. That’s why it’s important to keep making improvements every step of the way.

This is why, in the grand scheme of things, sex-positive feminism is more conducive to the human condition. It acknowledges that women are sexual creatures too. It acknowledges that women can enjoy sex just as much as men and why shouldn’t they? It’s something that gives pleasure to both genders when done right. It literally brings us together in a deeply intimate way and that’s definitely a positive.


Filed under Jack Fisher's Insights

Re-Objectifying The Concept of Objectification (Including the Sexual Kind)

Picture, for a moment, the following scenario. A man and a woman are sitting on a couch watching a movie. Since every movie outside of gay porn is supposed to include an attractive woman, a scene comes along where the cameras emphasize just how attractive she is. Sometimes it’s a body double. Sometimes it’s Photoshopped. The brains and genitalia of men don’t care. It often leads to a conversation like this.

Man: Wow. That woman is pretty damn hot!

Woman: Yeah, I can see why you’d think that.

Pretty mundane, right? How many people have had that exact conversation with only a slight variation in the verbiage? Hell, I’ve heard my own parents have this conversation. It’s not awkward, nor should it be. When something or someone shows up on a screen and we find it attractive, it tends to start a conversation.

That scenario is not an issue. It probably happens, in some form or another, on a daily basis. Now, let’s picture another scenario. It’s the same scene. A man and a woman are watching a movie. Right on cue, the attractive woman shows up. Then this conversation happens.

Man: Wow. That woman is pretty damn hot!

Woman: How dare you think that way! You’re objectifying that woman! You’re a disgusting excuse of a man! You should be harassed, denigrated, and shamed! You are contributing to the sick and disgusting culture of rape and patriarchy that has disenfranchised women for centuries! If you had any decency, you’d apologize to all women and kill yourself!

It’s hard to really assess all the issues with this scenario. I think Ron Burgundy said it best.

Now I don’t claim that this kind of conversation happens all the time. I’m sure it has manifested in some form, if not among feminist circles, then definitely in blind dates that go horribly wrong. No matter what form it takes, it’s a growing part of our culture, specifically the growing tumor that is politically correct culture.

I’ve talked about feminism before on this blog and I always feel like I have to walk over a pile of broken glass before I get to the issues. I don’t expect this to be different.

I know without a doubt that I’m going to offend some people with what I say here. I know there are some people, male and female, who will never be convinced that they’re wrong about anything. So long as we don’t elect these people to public office, I’m okay with that. I want this post to be thought-provoking and informative to those who are actually open it.

With that said, I’m going to put on my politically correct flak jacket and talk about sexual objectification. I’m bracing myself as much as I can, but I guess this is one case where being a no-name aspiring erotica/romance writer works to my advantage. Not enough people give a shit about who I am or what I say to whine so I guess I don’t have to brace for much.

Even so, I know this is a sensitive issue. It also relates closely to my recent posts on body shaming. My position on this issue isn’t a popular one. I understand that. I try to see it in the context of the real world that functions on the functionally flawed processes of human biology. In politically correct crowds, who think reality can be muted, this is a big no-no.

In these crowds, objectification (especially the sexual kind that emphasizes women) is right up there with animal cruelty, slavery, and poor wifi in terms of evil. Say the word “sexual objectification” in an overly PC crowd and you’ll send most of them into a rage that rivals that of the Incredible Hulk. As a noted comic book fan, I can say that even the Hulk would be taken aback by the anger that this concept evokes.

So what the hell is sexual objectification anyways? Well, the fine folks at Wikipedia define it as follows:

Sexual objectification is the act of treating a person as an instrument of sexual pleasure. Objectification more broadly means treating a person as a commodity or an object without regard to their personality or dignity. Objectification is most commonly examined at the level of a society, but can also refer to the behavior of individuals.

That’s fairly reasonable. I think most people would agree with it. On the surface, it really doesn’t sound like a good thing. Reducing a human being to the same status of a used dildo or semen-encrusted sock just feels wrong. Ask radical feminists and overtly PC folks and they’ll say that’s what happens whenever there’s a pretty girl in a movie, comic book, or video game.

They’ll even take it 10 steps further than any reasonable person should. They’ll claim that the mere presence of a woman with attractive features, be they big breasts or hourglass figures or shapely butts, contributes to rape culture and the denigration of women. They’ll argue that just seeing these images is enough to make men feel like harassing and degrading women is okay.

Anyone know this woman? Also known as the most hated woman on the internet?

I won’t say her name. I refuse to give her more attention that she deserves and she already gets way more than she should. She is just one of many in the overly PC/radical feminist crowd that go out of their way to look for something to get offended over. Then, for some reason, they’re surprised when people call bullshit.

People like this, male or female, don’t deserve to be taken seriously. They are ill in the sense that they’re addicted to the attention and the money/fame/legal protections that come with it. There’s nothing valid or honest about it whatsoever and it contributes nothing to this issue.

So if we’re going to ignore these people (and they deserve to be ignored), what is the true context of sexual objectification? How serious is it? Has the bombardment of Victoria’s Secret ads and Nikki Manaj videos made the world more dangerous for women?

Well, believe it or not (and PC/radical feminist types usually don’t), we have data on this issue. According to the US Department of Justice Statistics, there has been little to no change in the rates of rape, sexual assault, or domestic violence over the past 10 years. During that time, everything from internet porn to Megan Fox movies have come out and spread, but they all failed to turn society into a smoldering pool of misogyny.

Shocked? You probably shouldn’t be. Those same statistics show that crime as a whole is going down. People today, men and women alike, are far less violent than they were 50 years ago. So either we’re learning to get along or patriarchal media conspiracies are woefully inept. I like to be optimistic about the progress of humanity, but that tends to get me into trouble.

That’s not to say that objectification isn’t a relevant issue. It is. However, I think our approach to sexual objectification is a bigger problem than the objectification itself. There’s no question that we should prosecute crimes against women to the fullest extent of the law. There is a question, though, on the full context of objectification.

Last year, Alexia LaFata wrote an article for Elite Daily explaining “Why it’s Completely Okay To Objectify Men…No Really, It Is.” With a title like that, it’s safe to assume that the context is going to be horribly misconstrued. She ends up validating those assumptions with quotes like this:

Well, I hate to silence straight white males again (I know you guys have been getting a lot of flak from me for merely existing lately), but until you live in a world in which your objectification leads to excessive victim-blaming, unwelcome catcalling, mortifyingly high rates of sexual assault and rape and having your value in society based exclusively on what you look like, I will continue to exercise my God-given right to objectify you.

Offended yet? I doubt it. I’ve seen worse on a Harry Potter message board. That said, there is something very flawed about this sentiment. For one, it’s an excuse, not a reason. Reasons have logic and facts behind them. Excuses are just the less stinky, overtly contrived shit we pull out of our asses to justify something that’s too hard to justify with facts.

It is a double standard, plain and simple. Ms. LaFata doesn’t even hide from that. However, double standards rarely have a basis in reality or morality, for that matter. They’re just elaborate excuses. Men look for ways to justify how they feel about women, even if those ways are bullshit. Women can do the same for men. The bullshit stinks just as much.

Moreover, and this is the point that Ms. LaFata avoids completely, it ignores the one important fact that completely undermines the politically correct approach to sexual objectification. Brace yourselves because this is going to send everyone crying to their safe space.

Men and women are just wired differently.

I’ll give the radical PC crowd a moment to stop gasping. Once again, reality doesn’t give a shit about your excuses. It’s sticks to the crude, but effective forces of biology. Unfortunately for the PC crowd, that biology doesn’t agree with them.

According to a 2013 study, men are more significantly aroused by visual stimulus than women. When measuring their state of arousal, they responded much more to what they saw whereas women’s responses were more complex and varied. That’s not to say that men are solely aroused by sight, but it is more pronounced.

With this in mind, the use of beautiful women in movies, TV, and video games makes perfect biological sense. There’s no patriarchal conspiracy needed. Men are already hard-wired to respond to the sight of a pretty girl. It’s one of the easiest ways to arouse them that doesn’t involve bacon. I’m sorry PC folk, but when something is that easy, people tend to do it. It’s not laziness. It’s pragmatism.

In this context, can you see why using beautiful women in media is a thing? Can you see why fighting it is akin to the Pope telling people not to masturbate? That’s not to say it can’t go overboard. As with masturbation, it can manifest in disturbing ways. Let’s just try to maintain some level of context here.

What does that mean? Well, remember those scenarios I mentioned earlier? Let’s try and make the first one more acceptable than the second. I think men and women alike can do more to address this issue.

Men, understand that women aren’t aroused in the same way as you and be respectful in how you admire the female form. Woman, understand that men are visual creatures who will be attracted to the sight of beautiful women. That doesn’t mean they hate you or want to exploit you. That’s just how they’re wired.

I’m trying to do my part with my books. I’m also trying to focus on relationships in the media that are well-balanced in terms of male/female dynamics and sex-positive characters that deserve more respect. We can make things more pleasant between men and women. In an age where we can find plenty of reasons to hate each other, let’s at least make those reasons valid.


Filed under Jack Fisher's Insights