A Cheerleader Says A Photo Got Her Fired. Her Case Reveals A Troubling Double Standard.

There are two sets of rules at play.

Thanks to the legal actions of a former New Orleans Saints cheerleader named Bailey Davis, we're getting a glimpse at just how much sexism and gender inequality exists in the NFL when comparing rules for the women on the sidelines versus the ones for the men on the field. 


The 22-year-old filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in which she argues that her termination from the Saintsations is proof that the all-female cheerleading squad is forced to follow a different set of rules than the all-male football players. These rules — and the fact that her career is over because she didn't follow them — led Davis to call attention to the gender discrimination and double standard that exists.

Per The New York Times, Davis was fired for posting an Instagram photo in which she is wearing a lacy one-piece outfit. This breaks the rule forbidding cheerleaders from appearing nude, partially nude, or in lingerie on social media. Davis was also accused of having attended a party with members of the New Orleans Saints — something else that is outlawed. On both of these accounts, the Mississippi native denies both claims outright.

The reason Davis' story is making headlines is because it exposes the dichotomy between cheerleaders and football players. According to the case, which points to Saints' handbook and internal documents, football players are not barred from interacting with cheerleaders, but that doesn't go both ways. Cheerleaders must allegedly block all football players on social media, avoid them in person, and even leave a public space (such as a restaurant) if a football player walks in, despite the cheerleader having been there first.

As ridiculous as it is that cheerleaders aren't allowed to have any sort of contact with football players (but not the other way around), there is a lot of irony in regards to the rule about their social media photos. These women are used for their sexuality on the field, to get people pumped up for the team, but must adhere to strict rules when they're away from the field. 

"It's not fair that we've worked our whole lives to do this professional job … and we're stifled by these rules," Davis said in an interview with Today. In her claim, Davis argues that the reasoning for why she was fired violates the NFL rule prohibiting discrimination based on somebody's "race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, or sexual orientation."

Davis told NYT as well as Today that she doesn't expect to get her job back because of this EEOC claim but is doing so in the hopes that the rules are changed for the other women — who, according to recent reports, make on average about $10 an hour compared to the average $2 million-plus annual salary football players make and the billions the NFL makes — going forward.

The Saints did respond to Today with a statement, claiming it holds itself to a standard which states that "[we] do not tolerate discrimination of any kind, and it specifically denies that Ms. Davis was treated differently on account of her sex."

Hopefully the issues being raised by Davis will result in cheerleaders being treated similarly to the way the football players are treated. After all, if the NFL can address all-important issues such as "what is a catch?" it can address double standards based on gender.

(H/T: People)

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