This January, rookie NFL cheerleader Lacy T. kicked things off when she filed a class action lawsuit against the Oakland Raiders, alleging that the team fails to pay its Raiderettes minimum wage, withholds their pay until the end of the season, imposes illegal fines for minor infractions (like gaining 5 pounds), and forces cheerleaders to pay their own business expenses (everything from false eyelashes to monthly salon visits). Within a month, Cincinnati Bengals cheerleader Alexa Brenneman had filed a similar suit against her team, claiming that the Ben-Gals are paid just $2.85 an hour for their work on the sidelines. And Tuesday, five former Buffalo Bills cheerleaders filed suit against their own team, alleging that the Buffalo Jills were required to perform unpaid work for the team for about 20 hours a week. Unpaid activities included: submitting to a weekly “jiggle test” (where cheer coaches “scrutinized the women's stomach, arms, legs, hips, and butt while she does jumping jacks”); parading around casinos in bikinis “for the gratification of the predominantly male crowd”; and offering themselves up as prizes at a golf tournament, where they were required to sit on men’s laps on the golf carts, submerge themselves in a dunk tank, and perform backflips for tips (which they did not receive). The Buffalo Jills cheerleaders take home just $105 to $1,800 for an entire season on the job.
Once I got over the shock and horror that cheerleaders had anything to do with gratifying a predominantly male crowd -- I needed two fainting couches, a damp cloth and a powder -- and once again had control of my faculties, this occurred to me: Cheerleaders, if you don't like the pay, why don't you just quit and take your bounteous talents elsewhere?
There’s another reason it’s taken so long for the cheerleaders to speak up: feminism. Professional cheerleaders have always presented a dilemma for the traditional feminist movement. On the one hand, feminism is committed to fighting for fair pay for women in all areas where they are discriminated against because of their gender. On the other hand, this particular kind of labor—one where women, not men, are enlisted to jiggle their assets at the local golf tournament—suggests another kind of gendered exploitation, and one that’s hard for some feminists to rush to defend. (Headlines about the recent spate of cheerleader lawsuits may focus on the scandalous details, but looking sexy for men is a feature of the job, not a bug.) Lately, it seems the feminist movement has caught up to the cause; it’s no longer particularly controversial to stand up for the legal rights of the women who perform work that nevertheless fails to reflect the ideal, gender-equitable society.
Whenever a phrase like "... ideal, gender equitable society" lurks, re-education camps are not far behind.
Here is proof that not all cheerleaders are the falsely conscioused dim bulb tools of the hetero-normative patriarchy that all ideal gender equitable feminists know them to be:
[One] former Raiderettes cheerleader ... thinks these lawsuits are a feminist conspiracy to attempt to end cheerleading for good.