On Thursday, USA Today sports columnist Nancy Armour took on a serious issue in the NFL: female cheerleaders. You see, it turns out that cheerleaders at NFL games are eye candy. This is breaking news, apparently.
Now, Armour is right to protest. But the question is why Armour is right while social conservatives have supposedly been wrong all these years. The media maintain (correctly) that treating women as sex objects is awfully wrong — unless the media are cheering actresses getting naked for their “bravery,” and talking about the personal choices of porn stars like Stormy Daniels, or urging on 17-year-old girls who don’t wear bras to school. That’s empowerment. But women getting paid for dancing in bikinis publicly is obviously just part of the exploitative system.
Now, I for one believe three things can be simultaneously true: men want to look at scantily clad women who aren’t their wives (doing so is immoral), businesspeople can take advantage of that desire (doing so is immoral), and women can choose to be paid for humoring men’s basest desires (doing so is immoral). But the Left cannot believe this. Women who choose to dance for men while barely dressed aren’t doing anything wrong; only the men who will pay them are doing something wrong.
Armour is absolutely correct when she says that “The underlying premise of NFL cheerleaders is degrading, presenting women as nothing more than objects to be leered at. With skimpy, suggestive outfits as their ‘uniform,’ their only purpose is to titillate. It’s always been an appalling message to send and, in this #MeToo era, there’s no longer any place for it.”
This all makes sense from a moral, conservative point of view. But from the consent-only point of view pressed forward by the Left over the course of decades, it’s patriarchal. After all, these are adult women choosing how to flaunt their adult bodies for paychecks. This is all just an aspect of free decisionmaking. How dare Armour call for these women to lose their jobs because she is prudish enough to determine that ogling is bad for these women, and that they’re incapable of making that decision on their own?
Herein lies a serious conflict for the #MeToo movement. If consent is the only value, then how can anyone question a woman who consents to be degraded by a man? And if it’s not, then what standard of morality should apply? The answer used to be: traditional morality concerning sexual relations, in which sexuality was reserved for marriage. But not anymore.