If you need a break from being outraged at everything Cliven Bundy says, be outraged at some of the things being alleged in the lawsuit brought by five Buffalo Bills cheerleaders against the cheerleading team’s management. Joining similar lawsuits filed by cheerleaders from the Oakland Raiders and Cincinnati Bengals, these legal actions have exposed just how high a price women sometimes pay for the privilege of shaking pom-poms in skimpy outfits on the sidelines of NFL games. Among other things, the members of the Buffalo Jills are saying that their cheer director laid out in specific detail how to eat soup, cut meat, and maintain their fingernails and vaginas. To think, the treatment of women in the Bills’ organization might actually improve if Donald Trump buys the team.
(Side note: Once again, I’m made painfully aware that no women are writing on this blog, but somebody has to write about these issues, so I guess this job falls to me.)
Deadspin is doing a pretty good job of keeping tabs on just what the Jills, the Raiderettes, and the Ben-Gals have had to put up with. (By the way, Cowboys fans can at least take comfort that the team’s cheerleaders are simply known as the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders instead of something lame like “the Jills” or “the Ben-Gals.”) Considering the publicity and revenue that these women generate, they are scandalously underpaid even before you take into account the arbitrary fines levied against them. Reading these excerpts from the Jills’ code of conduct, I can’t help but wonder what kind of Type A personality it takes to try to exert this kind of control over the lives of their employees. This story has even managed to appall the parts of the Internet that like leering at pictures of scantily clad women, like the bro-y Hot Clicks.
Anyway, now the Buffalo Jills have suspended operations, which convinces that the team’s cheerleading operations were being run by some truly awful people. (Oh, and to the Bills blogger who frets more about the lawsuit’s possible impact on the team’s sale than allegations in the suit: You need to re-examine your priorities, dude.) There are some who believe that these lawsuits will encourage other NFL teams to get rid of their cheerleaders, but you know what? I’d rather have a league with no cheerleaders than have one that treats their cheerleaders this badly. For some time, it seems, cheerleaders were kept quiet about their working conditions by the knowledge that any number of women would line up to replace them. Thanks to these lawsuits, that’s probably not the case so much now.