We don’t want sexualised sport in Australia

Lingerie football in Australia?? No thank you! This is just another example of sexualising and exploiting females and of sending more confusing messages to young girls that their abilty to be sexy and half naked is more important then their sporting abilities; that their sporting abilities don’t deserve merit on their own (you don’t see male footballer’s playing in nothing but their jocks).

“ninemsn news staff wrote on Sun Nov 20 2011  The United States’ eye-catching Lingerie Football League is set to expand to Australia and beyond — but there’s already one Aussie making her mark in the sexy sport.

Former cheerleader, sprinter and rugby player Chloe Butler, of Townsville, is a defender with the LA Temptations, the top team in the American Lingerie Football league. And while the women’s pre-game preparations may include touching up their make-up — lingerie football is still a tough sport. “You can be a hard athlete and still bring a lot of aggression and physicality to something and still be a glamorous lady,” Butler told TODAY. “Is it sexy? Absolutely,” the league’s commissioner Mitch Mortaza said.

The concept evolved from an alternative to the Super Bowl halftime show known as the Lingerie Bowl, which was broadcast on pay-per-view television at the same time as the Super Bowl halftime show. The Lingerie Bowl grew increasingly popular until a league was launched in the United States in2009. The league is set to launch in Australia in two years with Butler as the public face of the promotional campaign. “I grew up in a small town in North Queensland, on a cattle property and if someone had told me I could have done this when I was a little girl I would have gone ‘wow’,” Butler said.”

As I wrote in a comment on my post ‘Unrealistc Sexpectations’ after reading  Adriana Lima say (on starving herself to be VS model) – “Actually, (being an ‘angel’ model in) the Victoria’s Secret show is the highlight of my life”, have these women heard about love, children, charity, healing, creating something in art writing music etc as a legacy, good deeds, acting in the greater good for mother-earth animals and human-kind, the list goes on….. and being an elite athlete without sexualising yourself or getting your clothes off can now be added to that long list of real highlights and achievments in ones life.


So does Australia really want Lingerie Football?????

The Australian governments sports commission states ‘Sexploitation’ as the most common term used to describe the sexualising of female athletes, (they also state the word can be used for male athletes but these instances are quite scarce as it is mainly female athletes that are sexploited). On their website

http://www.ausport.gov.au/participating/women/resources/issues/sexploitation they write, “Sexploitation applies to forms of marketing, promotion or attempts to gain media coverage which focus attention on the sexual attributes of female athletes, especially the visibility of their bodies. In a context of sexploitation, the value of the female athlete is judged primarily in terms of her body type and attractiveness, rather than for the qualities that define her as an athlete.

This creates an ironic situation for elite athletes. In order to attract media and sponsor interest, many female athletes resort to marketing themselves or their sport for their ‘voyeuristic potential’. However, if this approach is successful, the increased interest is not on their performances and successes, but on their sex appeal.…..society in general still views sportsmen in a different light to sportswomen.”

                              http://awrljillaroos.leaguenet.com.au/             Poi Clark comes in over the top to tackle older sister Teina (Australia). http://www.ourfootyteam.com/women-in-league.php

The Australian governments sports commission says that sexploitation of female athletes is of concern because Viewing female athletes primarily in terms of their sexual attributes rather than their athletic endeavours has the potential to denigrate the individual both as an athlete and as a woman. Sexploitation is not simply a matter of skimpy costumes on female bodies. It is also the inappropriate portrayal of female athletes either in their sporting apparel or in alternative situations.

     Women’s beach volleyball, (for example) has introduced uniforms intentionally to focus attention on the athletes’ bodies rather than for any technological, practical or performance-enhancing reasons. Women must compete in bra-style tops and bikini bottoms that must not exceed six centimetres in width at the hip (men compete in shorts and singlet’s)……..           

     Focusing on an athlete’s physical attributes in an overtly sexual manner can create anxiety and embarrassment for the individual. In younger athletes, whose self-confidence may be less secure, the increased focus on the body because of sexploitation can lead to a poor body image. There is a wealth of research linking poor body image with increased risk of disordered eating behaviours.

Using sex as part of a promotional strategy may limit the potential of a sport to attract a diverse range of talented girls and women. Such promotion is reason enough for some girls and women to choose another sport or even no sport at all.

Sexploitation also puts athletes at greater risk of harassment, from persons within and outside their sport. The overt sexualising of female athletes undermines current efforts to ensure no athlete, of any age or level of participation, is subject to behaviour that is unwelcome, inappropriate or harmful.”

The Australian Government Sports Commission (ASC) states the alternatives “The ASC considers that, in conjunction with the sport and recreation industry, it has a responsibility to ensure that images of female athletes are positive, are not sexualised and represent the diversity of women involved in sport. There also is a responsibility to ensure the sporting environment is free of harassment and that athletes are not made to feel uncomfortable when involving themselves in any sport. The ASC therefore discourages the introduction and use of policies and promotional activities that lead to female athletes being exploited.

As a result of continued great athletic performances, programs to provide athletes with media skills and initiatives to increase the involvement of women and girls in sport, there is a growing public and media interest and more widespread corporate sponsorship of women’s sport. The onus is on Australia’s female athletes to add value to these arrangements so that partnerships are reinforced and companies realise the benefits they receive from such sponsorships.


On the Australian Government Ausport website is an article written by Jan Borrie for ‘The Canberra Times’ in 2000 http://fulltext.ausport.gov.au/fulltext/2000/ascweb/sexploitation.asp

“In recent years, through diverse forms of media and publications, an increased focus has been placed on the physical attributes of female athletes…… detracting from the sporting performances and abilities of the athletes so portrayed. It has done so by sexualising the female athlete at the expense of her sporting achievements. The athlete’s portrayal as a sportswoman becomes less than the titillating factor of a naked or scantily clad body…… It is obviously regrettable that in many sports the sexualised female athlete holds more value for promotion than being world champion…… Women were often photographed in inactive shots, in relationship caricatures or as models; men were more often shown in active poses, less in relationships and never as models. Similarly, the writing that described women’s and men’s sport reinforced a gender dichotomy. Women were stereotyped by their physical traits, their clothes, their emotions and their relationships; men by their courage, aggression and toughness … These socially constructed images lead to a gender hierarchy in which women’s sport is not taken as seriously as men’s.”

Another article on the Aus Gov Ausport website by Dr Murray Phillips, An Illusory Image: A Report on the Media Coverage and Portrayal of Women’s Sport in Australia 1996, Canberra: ‘Australian Sports Commission’, 1997 states The female body is used to sell many products in our society, from cars to washing powder. In certain forms of promotion through sport, the female athlete is also being treated as a commodity – in this case, an overtly sexualised one…….This type of promotion is held to be a form of exploitation. And, as is common with exploitation, it can have various negative effects, both on the individual athlete and the sport as a whole. It is therefore crucial that athletes and sports understand the possible ramifications of using sex to promote women’s sport. They need to ask the key questions, ‘what are we actually promoting and what are we really trying to achieve?’”

The ‘Australian Sports Commission’s’ concerns and issues with using sex to promote women’s sport – “The question of what is really being promoted through publications such as nude calendars or certain types of uniforms is, put simply, woman as sex object or woman as athlete?”……. Anna Kournikova is an excellent example: she has never won a single tennis title, yet is extremely popular. However, media and public comments and interest predominantly relate to her sex appeal rather than her game. Anna deserves congratulations for being so successful in marketing herself this way, but it is unfortunate for the other female tennis players who are more successful on the tennis circuit and who play more exciting tennis. These female players do not attract the same media interest because they do not dress or promote themselves in a provocative manner…… It should also be noted that while sexploitation is most commonly associated with elite athletes, the matter cannot be completely divorced from community and amateur sport. There is undoubtedly a flow-on effect as (is) described in the following sections of this paper.…… Sexploitation has several flaws: it excludes many female athletes who do not fit into the appropriate body types, it glorifies certain female shapes and sends messages about what is appropriate and inappropriate for aspiring female athletes. These images fit neatly into stereotypes that have historically prevented women’s sport from being accepted on par with men’s sport.

At a recent national Indigenous Women in Sport Summit, concern was repeatedly expressed about the tight and revealing uniforms worn by female athletes, especially in team sports such as basketball, touch and volleyball. Conference participants indicated that Indigenous women and girls were choosing not to participate in these sports predominantly because of the uniforms.

The Matildas’ (The Australian Women’s Soccer Team) nude calendar has had flow-on effects for other sports. In April 2000, the national women’s netball team also decided to produce a calendar to raise funds. But when the players turned up for the photo shoot, photographers pressured them to take their clothes off. This situation was confusing and distressing for the athletes. In the end the team ruled decisively that posing nude was not the way they wanted their family-friendly sport to be depicted in a calendar.

“I think for female sports to be taken seriously, we should be recognised for our skills and achievements rather than our naked bodies.” Janine Ilitch, member Australian netball team, Taking a stand for skill over skin, The Age, 17 May 2000


“For most of the past 100 years, women have struggled to be recognised for their achievements and contributions not for how attractive they may be or what they are wearing. Sportswomen now demand to be taken seriously as athletes and have fought hard for media coverage that doesn’t concentrate on superficial issues such as physical looks and attire. If, on the other hand, some sportswomen promote themselves in erotic or revealing outfits or even nude, it sends conflicting and confusing messages to the media, the community and to other athletes. It also undermines the efforts to achieve equal credibility for all women athletes.

“Sexploitation as a promotional strategy may limit the potential of a sport to attract a diverse range of talented girls and women.

  • it may be culturally inappropriate for women from some non-English speaking backgrounds and for Indigenous girls and women
  • it is seen by many women as sexist, embarrassing or a complete ‘turn off’
  • it makes many women and girls feel more self-conscious about their bodies
  • it alienates many lesbians as it only promotes a stereotypical heterosexual image.”

The ASC conclusion on sexploitation is that “celebrating athletic physiques is an undeniable aspect of sport. Focusing, however, on the sexual attributes of such individuals at the expense of their achievements is demeaning and is a trend that should be eradicated from sport promotion and media coverage of athletic endeavour.”


If you are an Australian resident and you care, please write to Australian Members of Parliament and ‘say no’ to Lingerie Football in Australia.

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