Every year across the country, high school cheerleaders can be seen donning football gear and playing football on the field. On the sidelines, football players stand and emphatically cheer them on.
This unusual scene is part of an American high school tradition known as Powderpuff Football: a gender-role-reversal event that initially appears to be harmless fun. But should Northwood High School join in Powderpuff, or does the game have sexist undertones?
Northwood Principal Leslie Roach was faced with this exact question in the past.
“We had a student proposal to do Powderpuff a few years back,” Roach said. “We were not able to support it due to safety concerns as well as some of the gender stereotypes it played into that we did not want to perpetuate as a school.”
In order to gather opinions on the issue, The Howler asked a variety of Northwood students for their thoughts. Some students agreed with Roach, believing that a game founded on gender differences is inherently problematic.
“I appreciate that Northwood is being cautious about promoting stereotypes and sexism,” senior Maxine Xu said. “In the modern day, it’s important that Northwood’s student body holds itself to high standards of mutual respect.”
“I personally think it could be considered condescending towards the girls to imply that cheerleaders need a special event to showcase that they are able to play football,” senior Khai Hoang said.
However, some students disagreed with Roach and argued that Powderpuff sports actually serve to combat gender stereotypes by empowering girls.