Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Popstar pays fine for women’s handball team who wore shorts instead of bikini bottoms

Many sportswomen are taking a stand against being little more than a parade of eye candy for the spectators.

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Sporting outfits for women have long tried to reconcile notions of “femininity” with those of “athleticism”, but this process has often turned women into objects to be admired rather than valued for their sporting prowess.

In particular, women’s beach handball and volleyball have been accused of being sexist, of objectifying women, and of being little more than a parade of eye candy, which makes them very popular with the crowds.

Criticism is growing over the teams having to wear small swimsuits in tournaments and recently rebellion has been gaining strength in the teams themselves, according to the World Economic Forum.

Many female athletes are now actively pushing back against outdated uniform regulations and demanding that athleticism be prioritised over aesthetics.

In the 19th century, when upper-middle-class women were eventually permitted to engage in games such as lawn tennis, their attire was suitably “feminine”, modest, and designed to attract a potential husband rather than enhance their ability to win.

Their corsets and full-length dresses severely restricted their capacity to lunge and leap around the court as today’s female tennis players do.

The sportswomen of today are still navigating dress code conventions, and now they are beginning to openly oppose the more revealing uniforms.

At the European Beach Handball Championships in Bulgaria last week, the Norwegian women’s team was fined for playing in “improper clothing”.

This was because they played in shorts, as opposed to the required skimpy bikini bottoms, which have very precise design specifications in the governing International Handball Federation regulations.

Men’s beach handball teams have always been permitted to wear shorts, and after unsuccessfully petitioning for permission to replace their bikini bottoms with shorts, the Norwegian women’s team took matters into their own hands.

Despite being threatened with a fine or disqualification by the European Handball Federation, they opted to make a statement and wear mid-thigh shorts.

This resulted in a team fine of €1,500 (RM7,500).

The Norwegian federation agreed to pay the fine on behalf of the players in a show of support but now US pop star Pink has offered to pay the fines.

“I’m very proud of the Norwegian female beach handball team for protesting sexist rules about their uniform,” tweeted the singer on Sunday. “Good on ya, ladies,” she added. “I’ll be happy to pay your fines for you. Keep it up.”

There were similar dress code protests by female athletes at the European Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Switzerland this year. German gymnasts decided to take a stand against their sexualisation by wearing full-body suits.

Both the handball and gymnastics examples highlight how women are beginning to challenge how their bodies are presented and policed by sports federations.

This paves the way for more sportswomen to oppose dress codes that are based on archaic ideas of what women should look like, often through the eyes of men.

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