Monday, February 2, 2015

Feminism vs. Racist Football Mascots?

When New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski hoisted the Lombardi Trophy after winning Super Bowl XLIX last night, he shouted, “Everyone on the team’s a man.” Gronkowski’s statement relates to the public perception that football and everything that has to do with it makes it a “man’s game”. That’s exactly why feminism and football isn’t the most compatible match, as many feminists believe that the sport and its professional organization shamelessly degrade women. It’s not uncommon to see feminists expressing disapproval with the National Football League with matters that clearly involve women, such as loosely punishing players for domestic violence cases against women. Yet, recently many feminists have shown interest in denouncing the NFL’s inability to ban certain team mascots that they view as racist. But how do these racist team mascots that are all portrayed as men affect the feminist movement?
I read pieces of work on this matter written by Dr. Adrienne Keene, Dr. Stephanie Fryberg, and Suzan Shown Harjo, three very well respected women in the feminist community. They share the same ideas of disproval towards the racism embodied within these mascots, but after carefully reading over their work, I failed to find any connections made between the mascots and the affect they have on the social perception of women. I don’t believe that it’s a coincidence that many feminists have shown a sudden interest in this topic, which is why I’ve developed a theory on the bolded question I posed myself.
           In an article in Everyday Feminism, feminist Tate Walker explained, “[Women's rights] would have never been approved if popular opinion were the deciding factor.” The Native American of the Washington Redskins, the most controversial mascot in the league, is still the face of the team because of the effect popular opinion has on the NFL. It seems that as long as the majority supports the mascot, then the mascot will stay in effect. In a pole presented by a fan website of the Washington Redskins, with over 12,000 votes submitted, almost 90% of voters were not content with the mascot possibly being banned. Undoubtedly, the majority of support and voters were men. I believe that feminists have become involved on the side opposed to the mascots in this dispute because they feel they have been wronged throughout history by the concept of majority male approval. Although the mascots do not openly degrade women in any way, they seem to further prove to feminists that the approval of men still outweighs that of women in society. 


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