British Sports Minister Says Women Should Cheer To Look Pretty

by omni

“There are some wonderful sports which you can do and perform to a very high level and I think those participating look absolutely radiant and very feminine such as ballet, gymnastics, cheerleading and even roller-skating.” This statement made by the British Sports Minister, Helen Grant, is reverberating throughout the sports world, especially as athletes continue to compete in the Winter Olympics. At first glance, women (and cheerleaders) may not think this statement is offensive. What’s the problem with saying that cheerleaders look pretty while performing? People are taking offense to the statement because it discredits the strength and athleticism of female athletes. And, in a back-handed sort of compliment, Helen is saying that sports like cheerleading should be valued for their uniforms and makeup, not their physical abilities. It’s also encouraging the stereotype that men shouldn’t be gymnasts or cheerleaders because it is a feminine sport. Even worse, Helen is the Sports Minister of Britain; she of all people should be championing equality in the sports world and fighting against sexism. Laura Bates, founder of the Everyday Sexism project, told The Daily Mail why Helen’s statement is so damaging: “We shouldn’t say women should only do sports while they look radiant and beautiful. It’s actually discouraging for a minister to say this. It suggests the problem is coming from the young women themselves, when I think a big problem is societal responses.” Men are not encouraged to look attractive while playing football or running track, so why should women? While cheerleaders maintain facials during a performance, how many gifs, videos, and images have we seen of cheerleaders’ “funny” faces? During a difficult routine, a cheerleader’s focus shouldn’t be on maintaining perfect hair and looking beautiful; her focus should be on nailing stunts. Statements like Helen’s is one of the reasons why people don’t think cheerleading is a sport; they believe the emphasis is one’s appearance, not one’s talents. Both women and men should be allowed to do whatever sport they enjoy most, whether that’s hockey, dance, basketball, or cheerleading. You can read the full story here at The Daily Mail.

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