Buffalo Jills face misogynist management

Do you want to become a Buffalo Jill? Have you worked so hard at honing your physique and your dancing/gymnastics skills just so you could be stuffed into skintight clothing and wave pompoms at 80,000 drunk, screaming football fans?

Okay, great!

Here’s the deal, though: You have to perform every game day, practice twice a week, attend 20 to 35 extra events per year, subject yourself to a “jiggle test” to make sure you’re skinny enough, wear bikinis and get subjected to lewd comments and groping, participate in a junior cheerleading program in three cities and get no compensation for it, have your gratuities taken from you by management, and have no voice or opinions of your own.

All of this — and you get paid less than $8 an hour.

Take it or leave it.

The Jills’ activities are suspended for the time being because of all of the above, after five former Jills put together a lawsuit against the Bills and the company that manages the cheerleaders. This is the third suit of its kind against an NFL team, and honestly, I don’t blame the plaintiffs one bit.

I can put aside my personal prejudices when it comes to cheerleading to realize that the Buffalo Jills’ situation is supremely screwed up. It would only make sense to compensate, and compensate well, a group of young women who put themselves in a position to be either fetishized or hated, just because they want to have a job that associates them with as big a name as the National Football League, or because they have to make a few extra bucks. But I guess sense isn’t as common a trait as one would hope for it to be.

Now, I know what some of you are thinking. “Do they really have it so bad? I mean, they’re hot! They get to be ogled by some of football’s greats! They chose this job anyway, so why can’t they just quit and do something else?”

You’re exactly right. They chose this job. But does that automatically mean they get to be treated like living, breathing blow-up dolls? (Hint: No.)

Labor laws are put in place for a reason: to prevent exploitation of workers. Stealing gratuities, exposing your workers to uncomfortable and potentially dangerous situations and paying them less than a living wage is exploitation, and it doesn’t take a degree in economics to figure that out. Also, just because the workers in question are female and wearing less clothing than you’re used to doesn’t mean the laws don’t apply to them. Workers are workers. Period.

The Jills’ situation isn’t unique. As mentioned before, two other lawsuits – against the Oakland Raiders’ and Cincinnati Bengals’ cheerleading squads, respectively – had previously been filed, with many of the same complaints about pay making up part of the suits. In addition, the Raiderettes (Raiders cheerleaders) had to deal with ridiculous fines for minor infractions, and according to a Deadspin report on NFL cheerleading, many of these women have to deal with a controlling, manipulative management that doesn’t follow its own rules and monitors everything, from your look down to your social media accounts.

Sound like a job for you? Well, you better jump on it! But don’t you dare complain or try to make your situation better. People might chastise you for wanting to be treated like a human being.

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