Cheerleading: A Perspective This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

   In many high schools, cheerleaders are considered the "chosen few." They are thought to be the most popular, prettiest students, the ones the guys love to be seen with. There are certainly schools in which this stereotype is not true, but they are in the minority.

The role of cheerleaders is basically to cheer on and support the male sports teams, and to excite the crowds into supporting their team. Many hours of work go into their routines, and most cheerleaders are quite acrobatic, flexible, and good dancers.

But it is time now to question the institution of cheerleading because it has sexist roots and encourages the objectifying of women. Cheerleading began at a time when girls didn't participate in interscholastic sports, so their involvement was as enthusiastic supporters leading the crowd in cheering the guys who were playing. Some things have changed, but not all. Even now the vast majority of high schools have no male cheerleaders, with the result that cheerleading remains very sexist. Girls cheer at male sporting events, but no males (or females) are cheerleaders at female events.

Moreover, the traditional cheerleading outfit is designed to promote sexism. It usually consists of a tight sweater and a very short pleated skirt that shows all when a cheerleader does a cartwheel or jumps. Why do cheerleaders wear such unnecessarily short skirts if not to promote a reaction from males? This reinforces the viewing of females as sex objects and not multi-dimensional people.

To repeat, I do not mean to offend cheerleaders and suggest that they are not talented. I know that it takes great skill and practice to perform their routines. I am merely stating that cheerleading continues and reinforces female stereotypes that our society is supposedly trying to eradicate. Cheerleading is hard work; it is a time-consuming and difficult activity. However, it is not sending the right message to teenagers. When they see girls on the sidelines cheering on the males, it sends the subliminal message that girls should play second fiddle to boys and be appreciated only for their appearance. The message plays out in classrooms and later on when they become part of the work force. Cheerleading is a classic example of an activity that many don't view as harmful but which actually endangers the equal rights of women.

In this time especially when young girls are abused and victimized, our society must become more sensitive to the way girls are objectified. The view that girls are there for the entertainment of males needs to be closely examined. We should be discussing whether an activity such as cheerleading should continue when our society is at such a crucial point in male/female relations. n

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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This article has 9 comments. Post your own now!

Arti.M said...
Feb. 27 at 12:21 pm
Agree with you, great article!
I dated a cunt said...
Feb. 10 at 5:14 pm
I used to date a cheerleader for 3 years and she totally used me. I can confidently say she was a cunt and her friends were just as bad or worse. Just about every cheerleader(not all) I've met was like that. It makes sense, it's a "sport" where you put on make up, try to look pretty, and try to get peoples' attention; what kind of people do you think that attracts? the cream of the crop? Yeah right.
isela_renee said...
Feb. 9, 2015 at 1:07 pm
The author, in her article, gives her perspective on the “true purpose” of the creation of cheerleading. She talks about the way the cheerleaders dress, portraying them as “sex objects.” The author also gives her views on how cheerleading is only adding to the belittlement of females. The first paragraph doesn’t really register well with me, but only because I am one of those “minority” schools where the cheerleaders aren’t the “most popular, prettiest students, or the ones ... (more »)
unimportant said...
Sept. 4, 2014 at 8:32 pm
i dissagree, cheer is a sport that started as "entertainment" but has grown into something muvh more. Ever been to a cheer competition? these girls don't chant anything, they tumble, dance, jump, stunt and much more. Cheeerleaders don't get the credit that they deserve, they are much more than sideline entertainment. P.S. guys cheer too!!
Longlegs said...
Aug. 30, 2014 at 7:00 am
Agree with your views completely. Great article!
Sara O. said...
Nov. 5, 2010 at 10:19 pm
I digress! Take care to note just how far cheerleading has come from it's original purpose; There are cheer competitions now, and yes, cheerleaders who attend them wear skirts. At the same time, there are also gymnastic competitions, swim meets, volleyball tournaments, dance competitions, tennis matches, and countless other sports that, following your logic, objectify women in the sense that wearing revealing clothing creates a reaction from men. Surely these women athletes could cover up and op... (more »)
Sara O. replied...
Nov. 5, 2010 at 10:35 pm
Also, you claim you try to avoid offending cheerleaders in this essay, but again your generalizations prove this a fallacy... the role of cheerleaders is not to 'basically' cheer on and support the male sports teams, and unless you have traversed the country to seek out the social status of cheerleaders, please, don't make any such judgements. In fact, it is these types of stereotypes that all squads struggle with and, from personal experience, devalue the sport as a whole. Once again there... (more »)
CallMeFelix said...
Aug. 12, 2010 at 12:48 pm

As a cheerleader, I have just a few things to say, and I'm not being offensive or anything.

Firstly, the uniform makes it easier to perform our tumbling, jumps, and stunts. For the most part (especially the stunts) long skirts would just get in the way. In addition, any cheerleader that doesn't wear shorter things on an every-day basis make sure their skirt is at least finger-tip length, making it fit the average school's dress code.

Secondly, at least at my school, we try to ch... (more »)

shade.f replied...
Nov. 12, 2010 at 9:47 am
ok cheerleading is strictly fun so dont ruin this for us!
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