Fake Football Shouldn’t Be a Miramonte Tradition

Eric Hass

Powderpuff limits its audience and participants in equal measure. It encourages a view of female athletes as jokes, or lunchtime entertainment.

Powderpuff is a joke in a couple different ways. First, the rally leaders’ riffing commentary doesn’t happen in the dodgeball tournament, even though people getting hit in the face is grounds for humor. Why does it appear here? Because Powderpuff is taken in jest. Second, the participants wear incongruous uniforms of baggy tops and spandex, and no pads, no cleats, even though Powderpuff resulted in a sophomore’s broken collarbone.

Also, look at the attitudes of the student coaches and how they differ by grade level. In the final game, the sophomore coaches were upset and gesturing negatively. By the time they’re coaching the senior team, they’ll have learned not to care so much about their team’s success, because that isn’t the point of the exercise.

Powderpuff encourages people to see female athletes in a humorous light, creating a new kind of misogyny that isn’t rooted in older restrictions like laws forbidding women from owning property, but betrays recent advances in gender equality.

Powderpuff could be defended under false premises of Title IX, but it isn’t an accurate representation of the scope of women’s athletics. It’s harmful because it reinforces a view of female athletes as jokes and less serious.

On a positive note, Powderpuff “redeems” football’s homoerotic qualities, like exaggerated shoulders, tight pants, and emphasis on contact. It transfers these surprisingly gay phenomena to more acceptable objects.

This new misogyny restricts the audience to a particular view of female athletes, and because the distinction is only by sex, the general negative differences can be drawn wholesale by sex. Some fault needs to be attributed to the participants for taking the easy way out, of keeping the tradition for tradition’s sake. Most of the fault lies with those who started and maintain the tradition, however.