Friday, August 01, 2008

I Have a Theory About Cheerleaders

Whether you read Deadspin or not, stories of cheerleaders "behaving badly"* are probably not new to you. (*FTR..." behaving badly" is an easy headline that really means "having harmless fun.")

It has happened at the professional level.

At the collegiate level.

And, since high school is the place where everyone learns to behave badly, I presume it has happened there, too.

(I, for one, am not googling "teen cheerleader" or posting any pics yielded by an image search. You can if you want. But I'm pretty sure that's the sort of thing that got Pete Townshend in trouble.)

This entry is, probably not so clearly, more than a gratuitous exercise. There's also a point. And it's on it's way.

Where my own volume of experience with women is concerned, I would never claim to be Hugh Hefner. Or Wilt Chamberlain. Or Bill Clinton. But I have known a couple of women in my life. So, I'd like to think I know a couple of things about them.

Rather, I think I know something. Maybe just one thing. And this thing will be called "The Cheerleader Theory."

Remember when I blathered on about The Origin of Yay? Well, this theory is a build on that.

Whereas Deadspin posits that cheerleaders are just a bunch of brazen exhibitionists, I figure cheerleaders are actually a hyperbolic expression of one of the most basic tenets of femininity. Affirmation.

In English, that means any woman--to some degree--is a natural born cheerleader. More importantly, any woman--to some degree--needs to be the subject of cheers. Which is probably why cheerleadering comes so easily to a woman. Because she wants affirmation, she's inclined to give affirmation. The inherent expectation being that giving will lead to receiving. And not just receiving any old thing. But the exact same thing that was given because that thing--affirmation--is assumed to be very high in the remixed version of the hierachy of needs.

It's kinda like what Rosie Perez was getting at here:

It's also a promient theme of Sex and the City. Or in Stuart Smalley's work. Which means that The Cheerleader Theory is much less about men v. women than it is about understanding femininity. Rather, one element of it.

Masculinity is, in part, about confirmation. If you think you can do something or if you claim to be capable of it, then you go out and do it. To confirm to yourself and whomever else might be interested that you can.

Femininity, is in part, about affirmation. If you think something or feel a certain way, then you express it. Once you've done so, you expect someone else to affirm that thing to be so. Or, less likely, to have them argue in the contrary so you can externally elaborate on your position.

In English, that means the masculine thing to do is to get it in while the feminine thing to do is to get out that which is already in.

Which is, reductively, what cheerleaders do. They yell. They yell out positive, motivational things. They affirm.

Just as there are both male and female cheerleaders, affirmation is a pursuit for either a man or a woman.

But, just like there are about a jillion more female cheerleaders than male cheerleaders, femininity is more likely to be exhibited by a woman than by a man. Which means that women are more likely to seek out and give affirmation. More likely to be cheerleaders. Possibly programmed by nature to be.

What exactly does any of that have to do with half naked women posing provocatively?

Umm....I'm not sure. But girls going wild is a good thing, don't you think?


mindful said...

i see where you're going with this, and i can appreciate it... but, some of those women be on a whole other level... and, cheering has not a damn thing to do with it.

the_capital_t said...

@mindful: Exactly. This post was constructed using the sandwich method. Two pieces of empty bread on either end with a big, fat hunk of a point in the middle. That was the goal anyway.