The Raiderette Cheerleader Handbook Is Full of Amazingly Sexist Rules and Assumptions
The Los Angeles Times obtained a copy of a "super-secret official" Raiderette handbook, and it's a full-on cornucopia of sexist rules and tropes. Earlier this month, Raiders' cheerleaders made headlines when one Raiderette filed a class-action lawsuit against the franchise. Alleging unfair labor practices, the suit is a pretty bold move in an industry where being an NFL cheerleader is often treated as a reward in itself (payment should apparently pale in comparison to the glory of shaking T&A at football fans). But checking out the squad's handbook — which outlines employment policies and offers etiquette tips — it's clear that it's not only Raiderette pay policy that sounds dicey.
The etiquette stuff is pretty cheesy and patronizing, but so are most employee handbooks everywhere. Things get more insidious when it comes to Raiderette rules of "fraternization." The Raiders claim to be the only NFL team without policies forbidding cheerleaders to date or hang around team members. But "we STRONGLY prefer you do not date any of the players,” the handbook says. And “excessive and/or improper fraternization with CLUB players or personnel will be grounds for dismissal.”
How's a gal to know what kind of fraternization is excessive or improper? Well, don't get raped by football players, for one. Unless you plan to marry them. From the handbook:
Let’s discuss what excessive means to the Raiders. There have been a few relationships between the two groups that have resulted in a few happy marriages and lovely children. HOWEVER, we have also had more situations where, quite frankly, the Raider organization and the Raiderettes narrowly escaped ruined reputations. One such example concerns a player who gave Halloween parties every year and many of the Raiderettes attended. This same player was suspended from the team for drug use but also arrested for date rape. For you on the squad who have attended those parties, just think how narrowly you missed having your photo in all the local papers and/or being assaulted.
So...don't get assaulted because it would bring disgrace if the local papers reported on it. Check. But it goes on:
RAIDERETTES ARE NOT ALLOWED TO ATTEND PARTIES AT PLAYERS’ HOMES…FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO DATE A PLAYER OR FORMER PLAYER, MAKE SURE HE UNDERSTANDS THAT PLAYER PARTIES ARE OFF LIMITS TO YOU.
How can players be expected not to rape you if you show up at their house parties, huh? Best just stay home and paint your nails. Because according to this handbook, not only are Raiders players uncontrollable date rapists but also lying cheaters.
Make a point to find out if a player is married. In most cases, he won’t tell you! You can call the Raider office with questions about marital status and I encourage you to do so. Again, he will not tell you he’s married!
So don't be a hussy.
There are some young men on the Raider staff who are married and yet some of the Raiderettes like to call them ‘just to chat.’ No matter how innocent the friendship may be, the fact that you may pop in to visit them when you are in the Raider facility does not look good to others – particularly their wives!
Or a narcissist.
... you need to learn to deal with attention you receive from the public (and especially the players) without it getting out of hand and going to your head.
Or a "moral problem."
Fans would come to see the games whether or not we had cheerleaders. There are some great teams who do not have cheerleaders ... Because of morality problems with their squads, they decided cheerleaders were too much trouble to deal with…DO NOT BECOME THE TOPIC OF CONVERSATION IN THE LOCKER ROOM AND/OR BY THE RAIDER STAFF. WE EVENTUALLY HEAR EVERYTHING.
Being a Raiderette sounds pretty much like being in a particularly awful sorority or an all-girls Catholic high school (at less than $5 an hour, Raiderettes make about as much as you did in high school, too). Anyway, I'm assuming there's totally a Raiders handbook telling players not to assault cheerleaders, be date rapists, or cheat on their wives, and...bwhahaha. Yeah. Right. I think Mary Elizabeth Williams at Salon says it best: The Raiderette handbook may be "for cheerleaders, but sadly, it’s a playbook for how our culture talks to women in general."