Womens’ sports uniforms are blatantly sexist

Ben Baker-Katz and Hailey Fine

From sprinting in skirts to exercising in skin-tight shorts; the issues with women’s uniforms in sports has been ongoing, not only at ETHS but in our society as a whole.

Let’s start with the topic of skirts. Why do sports like women’s lacrosse, tennis and field hockey have uniforms with skirts? Aside from the sexualization of women’s sports, the answer is tradition. Women were thought of as masculine if they played a sport, so in an attempt to hide this “masculinity” they wore slim fitting clothes and skirts. Some may argue that skirts are more comfortable and easier to play in, but aren’t shorts just as comfortable? Shorts won’t ride up when you sprint, or become too revealing when you bend over. If the two options are equally as comfortable, why is it that girls are still wearing a uniform that was born from the idea of keeping women out of men’s sports?

On the other end of the spectrum, we have spandex. Girls volleyball players wear short spandex when they play, whereas the boys team wears loosely fitting shorts. It’s argued that spandex is used to increase performance by allowing flexibility and movement, but then why don’t men do it as well? Clearly, the tight spandex aren’t necessary, showing yet another instance of the sexualization of women’s sports.

We have had many experiences in which we’ve talked with boys about their favorite women’s sport to watch and they say volleyball because they love to watch girls in tiny spandex. Our experiences don’t define how all men see women, but it shows how some women are being objectified while trying to play their best in their sport.

This idea of shorts versus spandex and leggings doesn’t only apply to game uniforms, but practice as well. After talking with a girl who runs track here at ETHS, we learned that girls are not allowed to wear shorts in the fieldhouse, but there is no such rule for boys. Apparently, the reasoning behind this strict rule is that their legs have to stay warm. But don’t boy’s legs get just as cold? In addition, some coaches have told the team that wearing shorts is “distracting” to the boys in the fieldhouse. Another example comes with track’s racing outfits. Boys get to wear loose shorts, while the girls have to wear biker-style shorts, which, for anyone that’s seen them, are just long spandex.

Lastly, we want to discuss shirtless practices. The Pilot says that undergarments, including sports bras, can’t be shown in a sports setting. When it’s hot outside, boys sports teams are allowed to practice shirtless and no one bats an eye. But when I’m [Hailey] running around in that same brutal, humid heat, I’m not allowed to take my shirt off because wearing a sports bra is “too sexual.” Is it not just as sexual for a man’s shirt to be off while practicing?

Overall, the way that we treat women still has a long way to go and it shows in the sports programs at ETHS. Women shouldn’t be sexualized for wearing clothes that are needed to play their sport. It’s time for girls to have the freedom to wear uniforms that won’t sexualize their bodies and make them seem as though they are any less than the guys that play the same sport as them.