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Cheerleaders representing various teams and sports in America are anonymously speaking out against the sexism that they encounter in their profession.
Speaking to the New York Times, cheerleaders explained how they are routinely mistreated, harassed and groped by drunken fans at games and events.
In an interview with the NYTimes,former Tennessee Titans cheerleader, Labriah Lee Holt said the abuse she used to receive was unlike anything else she had experienced before.
When you have on a push-up bra and a fringed skirt, it can sometimes, unfortunately, feel like it comes with the territory.
I never experienced anything where someone on the professional staff or the team said something or made me feel that way.
But you definitely experience that when you encounter people who have been drinking beer.
An anonymous cheerleader from the Dallas Cowboys explained that they are given advice on how to respond to the fans, but are reportedly told that they can "never be mean" and must always be courteous.
'I hope you get raped!' That’s the kind of stuff we’d have yelled at us.
Even from our fans, once they get drunk, they yell things, and you’re like, ‘Really?’ It’s part of the job. It comes with it. You’re supposed to take it.
Never be mean. Never. Always courteous. Because if it’s not for the fans, we wouldn’t be here — that’s how we were supposed to think of this.
Now I’m like, no, we shouldn’t be trained on how to handle that situation.
We should be trained how to raise our hand and say, ‘Security, get this man away from me!’ I wish I could tell my 20-year-old self that.
Team officials are reportedly aware of the harassment that cheerleaders receive but little is done in response, as their job means they often have to interact with drunken fans at games, promotional events, parties and - in one instance - a fan's home.
The cheerleader from the Cowboys explained that if there was even the slightest form of objection that they would be dismissed from the team.
When the NYTimes reached out to the two respective teams both declined to comment. However, the NFL did offer a comment, but didn't address the specific cases mentioned by the cheerleaders.
The NFL and all NFL member clubs support fair employment practices.
Employees and associates of the NFL have the right to work in a positive and respectful environment that is free from any and all forms of harassment.
Sexual harassment should never be the price of a paycheck in a modern society.
For any worker, especially those in roles that require a lot of contact with customers or clients, unwanted physical touching, leering, or a clearly hostile working environment is never acceptable.
It’s concerning but also not surprising that women have been made to feel this way because they are explicitly instructed to tolerate it and threatened with termination if they don’t.
In America, sexual harassment laws differ from state to state, but employers, including sports teams, can be liable for sexual harassment should it happen to one of their employees while conducting their duties.
Harassment claims can be filed at a federal level from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and as Mike Domitrz of Date Safe Project sagely states:
It’s never OK.
There is nowhere in the law where it says that you’re exempt from harassment.