Why strong, confident women are playing football in their underwear – and why I fully support it

Today I attended the media launch of the Victorian Maidens, one of the first teams to join the newly introduced Australian Legends Football League aka LFL (formally known in the USA as the Lingerie Football League).

This gridiron league consists of elite sportswomen, who like any other professional athlete, train daily and devote their lives to gaining a spot in the highest level their sport offers.

Oh, and they wear lingerie inspired uniforms in their games (just got your attention hey boys?)

The gorgeous Rachel Tate

The gorgeous Rachel Tate

Controversy is already starting to stir and come their opening Victorian match in December, it’s going to go nuts – so I wanted to get in early with my opinion.

As a strong, educated woman, I do not take issue to this league. In fact, I support it. And here’s why:

1) Feminism?

Can somebody please explain to me why feminism must mean women covering up, and acting like men so that we may all be respected in the same way?

I think feminism should mean women have the choice. Women should be able to choose to get an education and climb the corporate ladder in the same way women should be able to make the decision to play the sport they love – and flaunt what they’ve got.

I do not believe these women playing football in their lingerie will impact the way all women in Australia are henceforth perceived. I believe we all have the right to display our bodies and use our ‘assets’ in whichever way we choose.

In fact, if these women were to bow down to the pressure of the public, and fail to follow their dream because of the way someone else thinks they should act… that would not reflect the values I believe a strong, independent woman would posses.

In position

2) If they’ve got it, why not use it?

There is a large gender inequality in professional sports. Women’s leagues do not receive anywhere near the amount of attention, sponsorship, fan base, or glory as their male counterparts.

Why?

I’m sure there are many reasons, but the most obvious and biggest hurtle these women face, is that men are naturally built as sportsmen: Bigger, stronger, faster – and the games therefore match this standard.
These women in the LFL are elite athletes whose dream is to play in front of a packed arena, and receive the attention they deserve for being one of the best. If this means taking a different genetic quality us women posses, and using it to pack stadiums, to gain sponsors, to have matches aired on TV – I say go for it.

It’s simple marketing that is helping these women achieve their dreams, and in many ways, is bridging the gap of inequality and moving towards a sports industry were women are receiving the same benefits as men.

Using a different genetic trait to draw crowds

Using a different genetic trait to draw crowds

3) The women promote positive body image.

Today, I saw ladies standing before me in tight shorts and crop tops. They looked very, very sexy… not a  skinny, boney, ‘box gap’ sexy…  but a strong, athletic sexy… much sexier! 

And you know what? When you see people without the photo-shop looking glass,  even the fittest women with the sexiest bodies still have the odd bumps and lumps, and some things things jiggled when they ran – like any other woman.

This realistic and healthy vision of strong, confident women was completely refreshing when all I see in the media is perfect, skinny, photo-shopped females… and it’s a reality Australian women should see (although admittedly I don’t think the stadium will be packed with women!)

They Squat.

Women deserve the CHOICE to use their bodies as they wish, especially if it will give them more recognition in their chosen profession, and their toned, strong bodies are a refreshing sight in this ‘skinny’, ‘box gap’ culture we’ve found ourselves in.

Good on you Victorian Maidens, and good luck with the season ahead!

Do you think women should be free to play LFL, or is it demeaning and objectifying women? Comment below!

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32 thoughts on “Why strong, confident women are playing football in their underwear – and why I fully support it

  1. Some of my close personal friends are in Australian LFL teams. I think they are amazing atheletes and talented, passionate young women.
    But some things about the whole LFL thing really stink:
    1. NONE of the female athletes in the Australian LFL are getting paid a red cent!
    2. Some are being forced to sign contracts that prevent them from earing income from lucrative sponsors outside of the LFL.
    3. The male coaches ARE getting paid.
    4. The flaunt what you’ve got argument is all well and good, but if I was playing a contact sport that required me to wear a HELMET, I would want the rest of my body protected too…..
    5. The same standards don’t apply to men. Until men are playing rugby or AFL wearing nothing but budgy smugglers (which lets be honest, women would actually pay to watch), I think this whole league is a total joke.
    6. The outfits are actually FUGLY. Can someone please design some outfits for these teams that don’t look like they were bought from the bargain bin at a sex shop? It is possible to design functional, classy AND sexy athletic wear for women you know!

    • Sofia your spot on why cant they wear regular american football outfits it would make it so much safer for these “unpaid professionals” and why are these women banned from playing in the several women’s american football leagues around Australia where in Qld crowds were well over the men’s competitions average crowd numbers. Go Panthers!!!

  2. I live the LFL and think the women who play are very positive and I commend them for following their dreams.

    My issue is the leech who owns it, I have it that he won’t pay for things and wants everything done for free.
    These women should be paid for putting their bodies on the line for our benefit…..that’s in Australian to take advantage of someone like that.

  3. OK, I’ll offer my counter-viewpoint then 🙂

    Shouldn’t you be able to sell your athleticism, professionalism, skills, sport etc without the need to pander to the, and forgive the common vernacular here, ‘tits and arse’ brigade? Plenty of other professional female athletes around Australia and the World that put their sport and athleticism first rather than the other way around.

    I don’t think this has honestly anything to do with perceived feminism one way or the other. We live in a modern western culture that thrives on not only individuality, the freedom to express oneself, and the right to be treated equally and ‘all that’. I don’t find any commonalities between ‘feminism’ and the LFL in any way shape or form. Its a bit like a young Muslim girl I once had a discussion with who wrote that wearing a burqa made her feel more ‘liberated’ and less perceived as a sex object when in male company. Not that I am making direct comparisons between the LFL and Burqa’s! Merely highlighting the discussion around feminism and how women can be perceived by certain people 🙂

    In my honest opinion the LFL is nothing more than an exploitative vehicle with the self interests of one man and his company to make money off the T&A show with actual sport, and player welfare, being a minor concern. Again, my own opinion only 🙂 5 seconds on Google will show a large amount of problems in regards to player welfare in the US based LFL with little or no player insurances, little or no player remuneration, pressure to sell tickets etc That concerns me and it should concern LFL players as well.

    If it was about the ‘skills, the sport, athleticism’ and all the other terms you’ve given us then there are already Women’s Gridiron leagues around the country sanctioned by the Australian Governing body of the sport and all the State Governing Bodies. They also offer fully accredited coaches, officials, player insurances, enforced NCAA standards for proper protective gear – the whole box and dice.

    Best of luck for the future – but I thin you and your team mates are being used to sell a product, not a sport.

  4. In America LFL crowds sit very close to the action and enjoy the “view”.

    AAMI Park spectators will be a long, long way from the field which will reduce the appeal to men.

    Women will be over it after one game.

    It is sex masquerading as sport. Good luck with it.

  5. Hey everyone, thanks so much for your comments, I am completely open to other points of view and appreciate that they are for the most part logical discussion points, and not personal attacks.

    I would like to point out that I do not play the sport. I am a public relations student and therefore take interest in current issues. I came along to the media launch to get some experience in the “field” and see how the big issues were being “tackled” (sorry couldn’t help myself!)

    I do not claim to be an expert, I know less details than many of you, and you do put some really valid points across.There are many different arguments here and I don’t want to address them all as I’d be here all night, but I will respond to a couple…

    I agree with you Sofia that it is unjust that the male coaches are being paid whilst the women aren’t, this is however to be expected when a new league with limited funding is trying to form. The women in USA are paid, and I would hope that these women do start to earn money if/ when it takes off. Also, I would absolutely pay to watch the men play in budgy smugglers I think you should pitch this so someone haha! I personally think the uniforms are sexy though… but that’s a personal opinion!

    For many of the other points, especially the one about the women not having suitable bodies for the sport – which implies that it is for show and not athleticism – my photos, and the images presented in the media are probably to blame. Sex sells…. therefore I urge you to see them play a game before you make this assumption. They are not so innocent and their bodies not so weak when they step on to play!!

    As I say though, many of all your points make perfect sense and I can absolutely understand this point of view.

    Thanks again for the great discussion!

    Melanie.

    • I respect your opinion and you make some valid points. If there isn’t enough money to pay the actual people playing the game, not just the person screaming at them, then maybe they should raise some money before putting the girls into situations where injuries could happen. Flaunting what everyone has is fine, but when it doesn’t fit into the society’s views of what “sexy ” is, that’s a problem. Women are constantly fed BS about what is sexy and what isn’t from a male point of view. Would this sport be as successful and widely watched if there were women the size of men on the defensive line in NFL? Of course not. Saying sex sells is total BS when the sex is only female oriented. My fine body would be out there kicking butt too, only if I was protected and being paid like professional men. I am really sorry the women in this league were made to believe their only worth was never about the game, just about the assets being shown on the field. If it was about the game and athleticism, then why are they in their underwear while men are in full clothes and padding? The real success is when women stop selling their bodies (or give it away in things such as this) because men tell them to. Telling women they can be what they want only if they settle for less then their male counterparts and show off their tits, well, how far can you really say women have come?

  6. Correction. . USA players were not paid the last few years (unless it was under the table but, there is only speculation of that). Plans of a pay scale : “top 1-2 percent of leagues players get real money in 1-4 years they hope.. quoted from Mitch to my ears 2013USA season. Good luck with him paying anyone.. why should he if there is still growth in the league. He doesn’t care about individuals, “there is always some other girl waiting to take your spot” he’s very open about that.

    The strong confident women plays for her team and to be apart of a team again. Her competitiveness and desprate need to fight with her team is what keeps the league alive. Without that it would be nothing but his empty threats about being too fat or too pale to play. market, market, market!! bring fans in or you can’t play. Hey it’s a show not a game.

    Every woman is told these things before she signs that contract. It is a trade off do your breake the bond you have already built with your team? You can quit or you can suck it up and play with you team/family. If you don’t understand the desprate mindset of an ex -athlete getting a second chance, then you will never understand why these ladies play. Its a second chance to be apart of the only thing they knew, competitive fire burns deep within them.

    • It was my understanding that they were paid a percentage of box office. I absolutely agree with you on this issue, if this is successful and someone is making big $$ out of it, the women absolutely need to be getting paid.

      • I personally know women that play/played in the LFL in the US and they were paid ZERO dollars for the last 3 seasons AND were forced to sign contracts that prohibited them from gaining sponsorship outside the LFL which would have earned them an income! There appears to be absolutely NO intention of paying Australian LFL athletes and they are being forced to sign the same prohibitive contracts. Fact checking is lesson 101 here Melanie. FACTS cannot be disputed or argued with. OPINIONS can and will be!

        • Hi Sofia,

          I am a blogger, I write about issues and my opinion as a hobby while I work and complete uni. I did some research however I do not have the time or resources to do high scale, detailed fact finding for every post.

          I did not write the article about whether they were or weren’t getting paid, nor do I wish to discuss it.
          It was a post discussing my personal views about what feminism is and why I am not offended by the league.

          I appreciate your knowledge on the issue and it is interesting to learn these points, many of which I agree with – I do however maintain my right to write this post, and hope you appreciate this.

          Thanks, Melanie

        • Sofia, I’m not sure what the problem is if they have signed the contract for zero dollars and zero sponsorship – have they not signed with this knowledge?

  7. It appears my followup comment was removed or failed to post correctly??

    I in no way, shape or form suggested that LFL girls do not ‘have the bodies for the sport’, at all. They are mostly all athletes and are more than physically capable of playing the game. Without a doubt.

    What I did say was that Gridiron is a game that is heavily tailored to certain body sizes and types – the LFL selects players based on looks and not on the requirements of the game. I fail to see how you can state point 3 that the LFL promotes a healthy body image when its akin to a People/Picture Magazine promoting your stereotypical ‘hot chick with bog boobs’ when the actual game of gridiron requires a variety of body types from fast agile receivers and DB’s, Fast, Solid, Strong, well built Running Backs and Linebackers to ‘great big slabs of meat’ on the O/D Line. Take a look at your images in your article – do you see a single Lineman, sorry – Lineperson, type build amongst the lot? I looked, several times (to be sure…honest!) and there is not a single D or O line build there.

    If you want positive female role models who love the sport and play it with passion and enthusiasm, if you want to see a variety of body types, positive body image etc – try checking out your local Women’s Gridiron league. They have them all around the country. They play proper rules with proper safety equipment, proper officials, fully accredited coaches, insurances and all run under the auspices of Gridiron Australia and all of the State Gridiron Associations. The LFL does not.

    • Hi “keyboredwarrior”,
      I respect everyone’s right to an opinion and approve all comments, I only remove them if there is inappropriate or disrespectful language.
      Thanks for your input, it’s great to hear other points of view.
      Melanie.

      • I do apologise if I said something offensive…but for the life of me I am not sure that I did 🙂 I essentially posted a shorter version of what I posted here….unless it was a reference to ‘tits and arse’ ???

  8. ok ok I am the father of a 18 year girl trying out for the Queensland Brigade and yes I have read all of the negative and positive thoughts opinions etc. regarding Mitch and the LFL. Do I still want my daughter to play? YES YES YES. She comes from an elite swimming background wanting to play a full contact sport. We and I mean we have no problem with the uniform etc. She is not blonde hair with big tits, she is a normal young woman who was picked because she is a beast on the field. These girls all play for different reasons and if they aren’t happy with the game, Mitch, or their contracts then they can and will walk. You know we have an Australian swimmer Alicia Coutts who has won gold medals at Commonwealth and Olympic games who up until a few months ago had to pull beers at the local RSL to pay her squad fees. Any of you whinge about that. NO. we all know the pit falls of this sport on and off the field so if you can’t say anything nice shut up.

  9. I have a friend who is playing the league, and I fully support her, and all the other athletes that will be playing in the up-coming season. I do however think that it’s sad that this would in no way be getting the recognition that it’s getting if it weren’t for the uniforms. Uniforms should be a small part of what these women do, not the focus. I respectfully disagree with you on your feminist point; feminism should be about being able to do whatever you want, wear whatever you want, without being penalised, abused, or denigrated for it. Unfortunately, we live in a society that at this time will not let these athletes exist or be recognised in any other outfit, and simultaneously abuse them for wearing it. Thank you for taking the time to write this article, it was nice to read a woman being positive about the sport.

    • Bec, I am at a loss as to why you would say ‘Unfortunately, we live in a society that at this time will not let these athletes exist or be recognised in any other outfit’

      …ummm…we already have proper female American Football – or Gridiron – Leagues in Qld, NSW, VIC, ACT and WA where ALL participants wear proper American Football protective gear and uniforms. So ‘these athletes’ actually do already exist and are actually recognised in PROPER uniforms and equipment.

      What it shows is that a made up sexually exploitative ‘sport’ gets far more press in this country even though after 2 years they STILL have not played a single minute of actual football – yet an actual womens sport in this country that already exists and has hundreds of players around the country gets not a single bit of press, even from the more ‘feminist’ bloggers and media 🙂

  10. If the women in the league are not getting paid, this has to be considered exploitation. Money is being made since there are advertisers with commercials on the station I watch LFL. As a man, I love watching the women play in bikini tops and short shorts. The football is not pretty however the women are and you can tell they are in terrific shape. Despite some heavy contact I rarely see an injury and am glad that is the case.

  11. The LFL is aesthetically unsustainable as a feminism icon for one good reason: They need adequate protection.

    I’m a woman and I’m all for feminism and individual women being able to govern their own bodies and how much they are comfortable showing. But here’s the thing. This is sport. They’re not dressing for daily life, and they’re definitely not dressing for the bedroom or the beach.

    They are dressing to go to war. To throwdown against other strong, awesome women like themselves. So they obviously need to get adequate padding. Men have shoulder AND torso padding in the NFL. They also have extra padding in their pants; at the thighs and knees. So why are the women REQUIRED to strut around in nothing but a dainty neck/shoulder pad thingies and knee pads? What’s wrong with putting them in some nicely padded tights? And getting them proper torso pads and maybe crop top to go over it?

    They’re deluding you into thinking this is some show of women’s empowerment, but how much do those women actually get paid? Where is the publicity for them that showcases their strengths as players instead of the latest wardrobe malfunction on the field? I hear NFL this and NFL that everyday. I see NFL merchandise and NFL players doing endorsements and making millions.

    I didn’t even know there was a women’s football league until just recently. I’ve never seen any commercialized merchandise, or heard a single thing about a player and her skill on the field. This isn’t normal. It’s not empowerment. It’s just the media doing the same thing they always have by showing you what they want to show you and deliberately tossing away the point.

    I’m actually a soccer player and am glad with the way the sport has progressed for women. It’s probably not ideal but they have a proper uniform that is functional, with which players can wear however they want within regulation. I’ve personally known girls that roll up the waist of the shorts to make them shorter and nicer to look at. Sometimes so far up you wonder if they’re wearing the same shorts as everyone else. And that’s cool with me. No one even cares. As long as she can play, that’s what we focus on. No her uniform or all the possibly jiggling parts of her that the media sexualizes to use against us when all we want to focus on is the game.

  12. I think you can do what you want to do and be who you want to be with no hate. I fully support this and if you think it is wrong than that is you’re belief. I don’t want to discriminate because they are doing what they love. Why hate? Women should be able to play football to. OUTFITS DONT MATTER ITS SELF CONFIDENCE .

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