NYT -When the Washington Redskins took their cheerleading squad to Costa Rica in 2013 for a calendar photo shoot, the first cause for concern among the cheerleaders came when Redskins officials collected their passports upon arrival at the resort, depriving them of their official identification.
For the photo shoot, at the adults-only Occidental Grand Papagayo resort on Culebra Bay, some of the cheerleaders said they were required to be topless, though the photographs used for the calendar would not show nudity. Others wore nothing but body paint. Given the resort’s secluded setting, such revealing poses would not have been a concern for the women — except that the Redskins had invited spectators.
A contingent of sponsors and FedExField suite holders — all men — were granted up-close access to the photo shoots.
Well folks, I don't have to write too much about this because obviously reading the above line "A contingent of sponsors and FedExField suite holders — all men — were granted up-close access to the photo shoots" is all you need to know. These cheerleaders went on a private photoshoot for their calendar, and sponsors and random rich men were granted access. Should never happen.
The article has a lot of details about what happens on these types of trips:
One evening, at the end of a 14-hour day that included posing and dance practices, the squad’s director told nine of the 36 cheerleaders that their work was not done. They had a special assignment for the night. Some of the male sponsors had picked them to be personal escorts at a nightclub.
“So get back to your room and get ready,” the director told them. Several of them began to cry.
“They weren’t putting a gun to our heads, but it was mandatory for us to go,” one of the cheerleaders said. “We weren’t asked, we were told. Other girls were devastated because we knew exactly what she was doing.” Their participation did not involve sex, the cheerleaders said, but they felt as if the arrangement amounted to “pimping us out.” What bothered them was their team director’s demand that they go as sex symbols to please male sponsors, which they did not believe should be a part of their job.
I've read similar articles in the past about how when you're in that culture you feel helpless. When you're in these locations and your boss tells you to do something, usually you do it out of groupthink/being scared of consequences.
The article includes tidbits from other trips as well:
Five cheerleaders characterized that 2012 team-bonding party as a wild gathering, where men shot liquor into the cheerleaders’ mouths with turkey basters. Below the deck, men handed out cash prizes in twerking contests. No cheerleaders claimed that they were touched inappropriately, and the two team captains said the trip was pleasant. One added, “They were all adults and got out of the experience what they wanted to get out of it.”
One cheerleader a few years later was told what to expect at the annual affair. “I’d been given a heads-up that we were going on this particular man’s yacht and that he had a lot of money — and that you could make a lot of money there if you wanted,” one cheerleader said, referring to the prize money in the dance contests. “But that was not for me, and lots of us felt the same way.
This sounds like what I always expected really rich dudes with yachts do. The line "They were all adults and got out of the experience what they wanted to get out of it" is how it theoretically should be. Go on the boat if you want, dance if you want, but don't be forced to do anything. That's the line. I mean it's common sense, really.
But obviously the issue is this:
But we were too scared to complain. We felt that our place on the team would be compromised if we did.
It's like the scene in Knocked Up where they aren't allowed to tell her to lose weight, but she'll be fired if she doesn't. Not ideal for the Redskins or any team or organization across sports to make their cheerleaders/employees feel that way.
The NYT article sheds a lot of light on Stephanie Jojokian, the longtime director and choreographer for the Skins. She doesn't seem too great at all, to say the least.
A half-dozen Redskins cheerleaders said Ms. Jojokian seemed especially focused on preserving relationships with businessmen who supported the team and her nonprofit dance company, Capitol Movement.
“There was a lot of pressure by the director for us to be a part of that party atmosphere with sponsors because we knew she picked favorites that way,” one cheerleader said of Ms. Jojokian, who in 2011 told women auditioning for the squad, according to WJLA-TV in Washington: “Don’t cover your chest area too much. We’ll assume you are trying to hide something.”
She literally sounds like the villain in any generic cheerleading movie you've ever seen. I mean who fucking talks like this?:
“I’m the mama bear, and I really look out for everybody, not just the cheerleaders. It’s a big family. We respect each other and our craft. It’s such a supportive environment for these ladies.”
So yeah. She sucks.
Hopefully this article helps bring change. More of this:
Interviews with dozens of current and former N.F.L. cheerleaders revealed a common perspective: They enjoyed performing at games, developing friendships with other cheerleaders and participating in charity work, which included visiting hospitals and going overseas to entertain military troops.
And less of this:
But they were disturbed by some of the extracurricular requirements that put them in what they considered unsafe situations.