I honestly don’t know where to begin with this. The Badminton World Federation has decided that women must play the sport in skirts or dresses. If they wish to wear trousers or shorts, they must wear a skirt over this.
Their rationale for doing this?
Interest is declining, Rangsikitpho said, adding that some women compete in oversize shorts and long pants and appear “baggy, almost like men.”
“Hardly anybody is watching,” he said. “TV ratings are down. We want to build them up to where they should be. They play quite well. We want them to look nicer on the court and have more marketing value for themselves. I’m surprised we got a lot of criticism.”
As tweeter @HelenWayte put it,
They’re also essentially saying that their sport is so dull it’s only worth watching to get a glimpse of lady pants. That’s sad!
This is a good point well made. Badminton is one of the more boring of the sports, and there certainly seems to be a good case for saying that this regulation may have been brought in to appeal to the male gaze. This is the executive committee and council of the Badminton World Federation. All of the executive positions are filled by men, and only two of the fifteen council seats are filled by women. Providing a little bit of eye-candy in the form of a woman in a short skirt jumping so her knickers are sometimes visible may be appealing to this set of very enthusiastic badminton fans.
There is more to be angry about in this story, though, above and beyond the rather transparent motivation to spice up a cripplingly tedious sport with some lady-legs and lady-bums.
First of all, badminton is a popular sport on Muslim countries. Muslim women who play badminton will be subject to the new dress code, despite cultural concerns about modesty. They will be permitted to compete wearing trousers under their skirts, but this addition of extra layers will almost certainly impede motion, giving some athletes a disadvantage in the game. This is therefore discrimination, even if the Badminton World Federation say it’s not.
Secondly, it furthers the distinction between “sports” and “women’s sports”. This regulation applies to “Women’s Badminton”. Likewise, we see “Women’s Football”, as distinct from “Football”; “Women’s Rugby” as distinct from “Rugby” and so forth. There are women’s sports and there are proper sports.
Apparently, we only need to care about women’s sports if we can get a good look at their pants.
Finally, the big gun. Rarely has the relationship between women performing femininity for the male gaze and capitalism been made more explicit. Attracting corporate sponsorship is overtly given as part of the rationale behind bringing in the dress code. It is clearly stated that the Badminton World Federation hope that by dressing up women in pretty little skirts will bring in better “marketing opportunities”. Being sexy is lucrative. The corporations will want to capitalise on a potential panty peek.
There are opportunities to subvert, and I offer some suggestions to badminton players who are outraged by the new dress code.
Imagine women badminton players refusing to play in the short skirts expected, instead covering up in full maxi-dresses. Let us see how long the Badminton World Federation would allow women to play without being sexy.
Imagine women badminton players denying the world a cheeky glimpse of their knickers, instead choosing to go without, offering up a sight of a cunt with a hairy, lustrous, full bush. Let us see how long the Badminton World Federation would allow the offensive view of a woman’s genitals to continue.
Imagine if men who played badminton chose to stand in solidarity with their sisters, opting to play in skirts. Let us see how long the Badminton World Federation would allow such blatant flouting of gender expectations.
Badminton is dull, and the addition of the tired standards of female sexiness will do nothing to remedy this.
Imagine if any of the above happened. Suddenly badminton would become interesting–but a lot less profitable.