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Jordan Candler / May 4, 2018

NFL: Making Cheerleaders Go Topless OK, but Christianity’s Not

Both the Redskins cheerleaders and one particular Christian were mistreated.

While the NFL’s social justice warriors continue to generate unnecessary drama over the mascot of the Washington Redskins, an actual act of malice involving the team’s cheerleaders went ignored for years. The alleged incident occurred five years ago in Central America, the details of which were just published in The New York Times:

> When the Washington Redskins took their cheerleading squad to Costa Rica in 2013 for a calendar photo shoot, the first cause for concern among the cheerleaders came when Redskins officials collected their passports upon arrival at the resort, depriving them of their official identification. For the photo shoot … some of the cheerleaders said they were required to be topless, though the photographs used for the calendar would not show nudity. Others wore nothing but body paint. … A contingent of sponsors and FedExField suite holders — all men — were granted up-close access to the photo shoots. One evening, at the end of a 14-hour day that included posing and dance practices, the squad’s director told nine of the 36 cheerleaders that their work was not done. They had a special assignment for the night. Some of the male sponsors had picked them to be personal escorts at a nightclub.

According to the report, the imbroglio “did not involve sex,” though the girls “felt as if the arrangement amounted to ‘pimping us out.’” Setting aside the prudence of even allowing an NFL cheerleading program in which objectification is already pervasive (that’s another debate for another time), these cheerleaders, assuming the Times’ account is accurate, were subjected to what everyone should agree is misogynist exploitation. In all likelihood, the incident was publicly divulged only now in light of the #MeToo movement. But it certainly seems to affirm the systemic problems associated with the NFL and its cheerleading program.

According to Kristan Ware, who worked with the Miami Dolphins for three years, the team antagonized her for espousing Christianity. Fox News’ Todd Starnes reports, “Ware said … that she was targeted for ridicule and mockery after she posted a photograph of her baptism on social media along with a Bible verse.” Ware’s celibacy was also frowned upon. She claims, “I was told I was not allowed to talk about my virginity to anyone at any time. I started tearing up and I got told I was too sensitive and too emotional and they were only trying to help me develop into a woman.” Her superiors also ordered a proscription against invoking God’s name.

Social justice warriors can keep waging a war against the innocuous “Redskins” name, but they should turn their attention to things that actually matter — like the NFL’s prematurely spiking the football when it comes to engendering inclusivity and respect among its cheerleaders.

Then again, in a job pretty much built on the objectification of women, why are the Redskins cheerleaders surprised?

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