This past NFL season, the Los Angeles Rams and New Orleans Saints have accepted male cheerleaders onto their squads as dancers instead of stuntmen for the first time in NFL history. As a result of the Rams’ successful season, two young men, Quinton Peron and Napoleon Jinnies, became the first male cheerleaders to participate in the Superbowl. This change has allowed for female cheerleaders to speak up about the unfair expectations they’ve been subjected to historically. These women present this as a sexist issue, believing the same problematic expectations will not be forced upon their new male colleagues.
This is a time to celebrate breaking down stereotypes and taking another stride towards gender equality, while also using this momentum to publicize truths about the NFL cheerleading community and move beyond them. This new found publicity is also an opportunity to invalidate stereotypes surrounding the cheerleading community such as being ‘talent-less airheads’. One article explains the various professions female cheerleaders engage in outside of the sport ranging from TV broadcasters to lawyers and many intelligent minds in between. Successful professions are necessary due to the insufficient meager wages of professional cheerleaders, especially in comparison to the salaries of the professional teams they are partnered with.
This new acceptance of male cheerleaders in the NFL breaks down barriers, allowing for celebration in the feminist community and representing another positive step towards recognition and equality. Click here to read deeper into the social ideologies surrounding the portrayal of genders and cheerleading and the effects that has on the participants and society.