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:
So...don't get assaulted because it would bring disgrace if the local papers reported on it. Check. But it goes on:
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.
So don't be a hussy.
Or a narcissist.
Or a "moral problem."
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."