Cheerleaders aren’t just girls wearing skimpy dresses and dancing for money, they have to invest time and energy into building their skill. Seeing that the Indian men’s response to them has not changed? Do we really need them? It’s about time we reconsider cheerleading as an added attraction for IPL matches.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • Cheerleading has been an American practice since November 1898 and in 1923, at the University of Minnesota, women were permitted to participate in cheerleading for the first time.
  • An anonymous cheerleader revealed how they are affected by verbal abuse by spectators and their low opinion expressed in demeaning language. This is also seen as the reason why western girls are preferred in India as cheerleaders.
  • Cheerleading is a sexist practice that objectifies women.
  • Indian men, who cannot but be sexist and objectify women who perform in front of them. This is because women are objectified in item number in Indian films. So they have learnt to see women like that.
  • Do we really need cheerleaders, seeing that the Indian men’s response to them has not changed? It’s about time we reconsider cheerleading as an added attraction for IPL matches.

The IPL season is in full swing and everybody’s favourite — the cheerleaders – are in the spotlight too. From the day cheerleaders became part of IPL in 2008 they were labelled as cricket’s item girls. They were obviously brought in to add fizz to cricket, a sport which already has frenzied followers in India. Nevertheless, cheerleading has never been part of Indian sporting events and soon everyone had an opinion about cheerleaders and whether they degrade Indian culture. And when cricket purists declared that cheerleaders take away the true essence of the game, the real debate began.

I am not here to say cheerleading is anathema to Indian culture or takes away the essence of cricket, but I do want to draw attention to the girls themselves and why cheerleading is a sexist practice that objectifies women.

I am not here to say cheerleading is anathema to Indian culture or takes away the essence of cricket, but I do want to draw attention to the girls themselves and why cheerleading is a sexist practice that objectifies women. Cheerleading has been an American practice since centuries. It has come a long way with the cheerleading girls now fighting for their rights. Cheerleaders working for IPL teams in India are not allowed to speak about their work under their contracts but an anonymous IPL cheerleader did a Reddit AMA (ask me anything, where fans and celebrities chat real time), and took on questions on her life in India. This chat threw a light on what it’s like to be a cheerleader in India. I bring up this example, as this cheerleader revealed how they are affected by verbal abuse by spectators and their low opinion expressed in demeaning language. This is also seen as the reason why western girls are preferred in India as cheerleaders.

Indian men, who cannot but be sexist and objectify women who perform in front of them. This is because women are objectified in item number in Indian films. So they have learnt to see women like that.

“I hate the racism. Why is my team made up of 99 per cent white girls? Why do Indians feel it’s ok to dress white girls up in skimpy outfits but they won’t let Indian women do it? It’s messed up.” she says. Then there comes the part when she explains how she deals with boorish men. “For the most part I can’t hear them. The music is loud enough and the accents are thick enough I’m mostly oblivious to the words. This doesn’t mean I can’t tell that there are some obvious slime-balls behind me. I try my best to ignore them. And I’ve made a personal rule for myself not to take pictures with fans unless they’re women or children. I’m not keen on becoming someone’s fap bate for the night,” she added. This really says a lot about Indian men, who cannot but be sexist and objectify women who perform in front of them. This is because women are objectified in item number in Indian films. So they have learnt to see women like that.

Cheerleading is not an easy skill to master. It demands serious physical training in order to stay physically fit. Western girls invest in it because it’s like any other job for them.

Let’s be clear though that cheerleaders aren’t just girls wearing skimpy dresses and dancing for money, they have to invest time and energy into building their skill. Cheerleading is not an easy skill to master. It demands serious physical training in order to stay physically fit. Western girls invest in it because it’s like any other job for them.
So, will we depend on western girls to do the cheerleading for us? Do we really need them, seeing that the Indian men’s response to them has not changed? It’s about time we reconsider cheerleading as an added attraction for IPL matches.

Picture Credit : India Today

Smita Singh is an editor with SheThePeople team

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