Progressive. Queer. Feminist. Opinionated.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Sex and Cheerleaders

So here are the bare facts of the case:

Two cheerleaders for the Carolina Panthers (an NFL team, for those among us who aren't sports fiends), Renee Thomas, 20, and Angela Keathley, 26, were in Florida. The two cheerleaders visited a bar, and, according to reports:

Witnesses say Angela Keathley and Renee Thomas were engaged in some type of sexual activity inside a bathroom stall at Banana Joe's around 2:20 am Sunday. Another woman waiting to use the bathroom got into an argument with the pair.

Police say Thomas punched the woman in the face. When Thomas was arrested, she gave police the name of another Panthers cheerleader.

Thomas could face additional charges for lying to police, once they confirm her identity.

Keathley was charged with disorderly conduct and obstructing or opposing an officer, while Thomas was charged with one count of battery.

The two women were taken to Hillsborough County jail, where they both bonded out later Sunday morning.

Seems simple enough. Two cheerleaders have lesbian sex in a bar's bathroom (and in order to get to that bathroom, Thomas had to have provided a fake ID of some kind), get into a brawl afterwards, and are subsequently arrested. Then they get fired.

Say what?

The NFL's Carolina Panthers have dismissed cheerleaders Renee Thomas and Angela Keathley from the NFL teams' cheer squad for their role in a lesbian bar room sex act and arrest after. [...]

The Charlotte Observer is reporting that Renee Thomas, a UNC Charlotte student, and Angela Keathley, a registered nurse, violated a rule that bans conduct that's embarrassing to the team or organization, Panthers spokesman Charlie Dayton said.

Kristen Owen, a third cheerleader, has been suspended for an undetermined time for violating the same code of conduct, Dayton said.

Owen was not in Tampa during the brawl and has not been charged, but Thomas had Owen's driver's license and presented it to Florida police.

So now we have the case of the mistaken identity cleared up, good, excellent, but hey, could someone make clear again just why these women got kicked off the team?

[They] violated a rule that bans conduct that's embarrassing to the team or organization, Panthers spokesman Charlie Dayton said.

Embarrassing, huh? Which part? The underage ID exchange? The fist fight? Or was it the lesbian sex between two of our nation's Rampant Heterosexual Symbols? Unfortunately, we'll never get to find out (or see the ACLU jump on the NFL for discriminatory practices) because Panthers Cheerleaders Deny Lesbian Sex, Loud Moans Only Crying:

Published reports have quoted one witness as saying it was obvious to her that the gal pals were having sex.

But now Channel 8 from Tampa reports that the brunette TopCat (Angela Keathley) "was crying over an ex-boyfriend - not having sex with her teammate (blonde Renee Thomas) - when a fracas erupted over the women sharing a stall."

Angela Keathley, 26, of Charlotte, N.C., released the statement through Tampa attorney "She just wanted to make clear there was no sex," he said.

Earlier in the week, blonde bombshell Renee Thomas denied any lesbian sex between the two cheerleaders through her attorney as well.

Leaving aside the whole "blonde bombshell" comment, maybe they weren't having sex. Fine. Good for them and their heteronormative bonding activities. But... then how come Keathley, the one who didn't punch out anyone or enter a bar with a fake ID or give a false name to the police -- how come she got kicked off the team and was "suspended from her full-time job as a nurse over the alleged incident"? That's a whole lot of punishment for a tiny bit of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest (which is all she got charged with).


Media-wise, lesbian-wise, points out:

So what's the problem? The story is entertaining. It's news. I'll admit, I got a good laugh out of reading about it. So why shouldn't the news outlets have a field day with it?

The problem is, the mainstream media doesn't cover stories about heterosexual couples getting busted for having sex in a bar bathroom, even though I'd be willing to bet that happens far more often than women secretly (or not so secretly, in this case) hooking up with each other in public bathrooms.

And even if they did cover it, it wouldn't make the national news. As one Florida reader wrote in to say, "I noticed this story first on my local NBC news, and then making headlines on Yahoo....I don't see any headlines covering all the sordid heterosexual activities in bar bathrooms performed by athletes (or their enthusiastic, scantily-clad supporters). It doesn't say much for lesbian visibility."

[...] Of course, the media is covering this story so extensively in part because Americans clearly prefer to read about lesbian cheerleaders more than Texas's anti-gay marriage amendment. At least, if phones ringing off hooks and websites crashing are any indication.

But this is just another example of the double-standard Americans have when it comes to lesbians.

As Kim Ficera mentioned in her recent column about the media coverage of the Sheryl Swoopes news, "I can’t keep up with the hypocrisy. Do Americans hate lesbians or love lesbians? Lesbians who want to get married, want to adopt, and want equal rights are all bad; but lesbians in lingerie, lesbians in videos, straight women who play lesbians on TV, and now lesbians with basketballs, are all good."

So are lesbian cheerleaders, apparently--or cheerleaders we want to believe are lesbians, anyway.

As long as they don't try to get married.

On the upside (she said, steadily ignoring the violent tic she's developing in her left eye), Penthouse has offered the ladies some additional income for minor photographic services -- should the need arise in these troubled, troubled times.


Blogger Harper said...

*happy sigh* <-- not at content of post, of course

I love it when you make posts. They're always so thorough and thoughtful.

2:58 PM

Blogger Cass said...

Aw, shucks. *blush*

Unless this is a covert way of telling me I should post more. *fish-eye*

On the other hand, here I was thinking that I was the filthy media whore of the four of us, whereas you and Ion do the heavy stuff. *sigh*

On the upside, hopefully my fabulous title will get us just as many hits as the "mansex" post of old. *hee*

*go me and the many emoti-signs*

3:09 PM

Anonymous thelatinist said...

I'm not sure that their (alleged) lesbianism has as much to do with it as the fact that they're women. Sure, the sex is what got this incident media attention, but I think the real issue in the firing is a double standard between players and cheerleaders. I doubt any of the team's star players would have been sacked over a bar-room brawl or disorderly conduct. Boys will be boys, after all, but girls must be ladylike and proper.

3:25 PM

Anonymous Wherdragon said...

But would team members be sacked if it was suspected (however loudly they deny it through their lawyers later) that they were having gay sex in a bathroom in that bar they got into a fist-fight in? TheLatinist makes a good point about "boys will be boys" in the bar brawl part (I think football players that have done this have gotten fined, but nothing worse), but what if the gay sex is added in? That doesn't come under the category of boys being boys nearly as easily.

5:01 PM

Blogger Cass said...

TheLatinist makes a good point -- and one I saw in a couple of articles and yet completely forgot to make a point of (*ack*).

To be fair, though, Wherdragon, while there is some discussion as to whether or not the cheerleaders were having sex (one witness said they had their clothes on, as if this was some sort of sign that cleary the women hadn't been having sex [ah, the joys of lesbian sex!]), there is, in my mind, few ways that one can mistake gay sex going on. (Although, to be fair again, you can do that with all your clothes on too.)

8:23 PM

Anonymous thelatinist said...

Honestly, I think the presence or absence and even the allegation of lesbian sex is irrelevant except in how the media covered it. I know enough of how heterosexual males think to suspect that this is not a reaction to a threat to an icon of heterosexuality. I doubt anyone in the home office would have had serious objections to tacitly cashing in on lesbian cheerleader fantasies. I think the real issue is that these weren't, as put it, "lesbians in lingerie" -- or even perky lebians in short skirts with pom-poms. They were fist-swinging arrest-resisting lesbians who didn't know their place was in male fantasies.

11:53 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe the reason why these girls were so discriminated against was precisely becuase they were going against the hetereosexual male fantasy of a lesbian encounter. As there was no man in the stall with these women, that hetereosexual desire of a 'steamy threesome' is completely lost. As cheerleaders, these women are socially expected to be available to the sporting men which they support and by having sex, without the presence (of for the pleasure) of a hetereosexual man, these cheerleaders are now a threat to the estabilished notion of who/what cheerleaders are supposed to be. While we claim to be a far more equal society it is sad that this article just highlights our failings :(

10:55 PM

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11:07 PM


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