The Talon

Opinion: Despite Name Change, Girls Flag Football Retains Sexist Undertones

Evelyn+Baher-Murphy+dodges+around+two+freshmen+and+makes+her+way+up+the+sideline+in+Friday%27s+Girls+Flag+Football+final.
Evelyn Baher-Murphy dodges around two freshmen and makes her way up the sideline in Friday's Girls Flag Football final.

Evelyn Baher-Murphy dodges around two freshmen and makes her way up the sideline in Friday's Girls Flag Football final.

Katrina Arsky

Katrina Arsky

Evelyn Baher-Murphy dodges around two freshmen and makes her way up the sideline in Friday's Girls Flag Football final.

Mia Scher, Staff Writer

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For clarification: This article represents the opinion of the writer and not The Talon as a whole. The Talon aims to act as a forum for student opinions, and we appreciate students sharing their opinions in the comments section. Guest writers are also always welcome to present their opinions by emailing the Opinions Editor at opinions@lahstalon.org.

Despite being a long-standing Los Altos spirit tradition, Girls Flag Football is blatantly sexist and degrading to women. While Los Altos made the appropriate decision to ditch the name Powder Puff, the underlying concept is still clearly sexist regardless of the name of the event.

The fact that we’ve set away a week to make a spectacle of girls playing a sport signifies that it’s a spectacle to watch girls try to be athletic. Girls flag football is meant to foster female empowerment, but it only serves to degrade and demean teenage girls.

Having a girls-only football game is demeaning to womens’ sports and makes a mockery of a their athletic abilities. The very concept of girls flag football at all suggests that girls are weak and fragile and are only physically able to play flag football as a lunch activity. Making a spectacle over a “girls-only” flag football team, with all the pomp and circumstance surrounding the game, demeans the skills and talents of female athletes on campus.

Given that this year Los Altos’ varsity football team has two female players on its roster, it is problematic that boys, some who have never played football previously, are selected to coach the girls. It’s as if girls, whether or not they are varsity athletes, are incapable of coaching their own teams. It also implies that girls do not have the knowledge or capacity to understand football and that they must therefore need help from the boys. I would understand if the coaches for this event were football players but, many of the coaches this year do not even play football.

More problematic, the notion of having female players and male spectators is viewed as a role reversal, implying that these roles are unusual. It should not be surprising or strange to see boys sitting on the sidelines watching girls during sports events.

Los Altos has done a good job this year at modernizing the longstanding school traditions that have been rooted in outdated norms, shown in the changes to Homecoming Court and its festivities. Progress has also been made to ensure gender equality in sports on campus by having two girls on the varsity football team this year as well as dropping the “powderpuff” name. But more changes need to be implemented to the girls flag football team to ensure that the sexist nature of the event is eliminated. The current version is outdated, divides genders, fosters sexist attitudes and demeans female athletes on campus. It turns girls sports into a spectacle for the entire school to watch.

8 Comments

8 Responses to “Opinion: Despite Name Change, Girls Flag Football Retains Sexist Undertones”

  1. ... on October 30th, 2017 10:07 pm

    So are you trying to get rid of school spirit and all school activities? The fact that you think this event is a sexist spectacle only perpetuates the idea that it is. Nobody viewed it that way other than those seeing it as overly political. Being a school-wide news source, I would think you would want to support other groups on campus instead of criticize. Maybe offer a suggestion or try to understand the background behind the event? Don’t complain and then get upset when our school has a “lack of spirit”. In fact, we had more participation this year then ever before, and it served as an event that brought classes together, regardless of gender. Bye.

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  2. Leah Guesman on October 31st, 2017 9:03 am

    I would recommend interviewing actual participants from the activity as well as students who chose not to participate. You make a lot of assumptions in this article and essentially trash an event that students have enjoyed for a very long time. It’s hard to read this article with an open mind when it’s so one-sided. I understand that journalism is supposed to be bold and challenge traditional ways of thinking that may no longer be correct, but it’s also about understanding what people want and interviewing individuals other than yourself to gather evidence. The Talon is supposed to represent the school’s opinions on events and the school’s decisions, but this year, it’s purely communicated harsh opinions of a few Talon members determined to criticize every move ASB makes. If you’re going to write articles that are this blatantly critical, you need to gather actual evidence for the claims your making. ASB has its own goals for the school that prioritize unity and spirit, and there are a lot of students working very hard to put on events like this. The opinion of this article is that of an uninformed writer, and I would seriously consider taking it down. This kind of baseless opinion should be on a personal Facebook or instagram account, not the newspaper for the entire school.

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  3. Suzanne Woolfolk on October 31st, 2017 9:53 am

    The majority of the athletes in Flag Football are athletes in other sports, either club or through LAHS. Focusing on our freshmen and sophomores having amazing games would have been another angle to take with your information.
    Had you interviewed any sources in your compilation of this article, you would have also known that ASB had requests for Boys’ Flag Football come in for the first time this year. Very exciting idea we’re looking at planning! You would have also known that administration, Athletic Director and Team Trainer have discussed the idea of co-ed Flag Football and have serious concerns for its ability to remain no-contact/tackle as part of safety priority. But like I said, that would have required additional research, which is usually typical of Talon’s high quality work.

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  4. George Lopez on October 31st, 2017 1:44 pm

    This article is trash and upsets me that the Talon would allow for such a illegitimate person to report for them

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  5. Sam LoDestro on October 31st, 2017 6:39 pm

    Sad to see my highschool slipping into the depths of social justice nonsense. Powder Puff was a fun tradition that, up until recently, nobody took issue with. If the girls involved in the flag football program truly felt demeaned, I don’t think they would be taking part in it. At the very least they would have expressed their concerns. Instead, presumably a group of students who didn’t associate with the program spearheaded this ridiculous task. Nobody held a gun to the girls’ heads and forced them to sign up. Nor has anyone ever discouraged females at LAHS from trying out for the football team.
    The search for “gender equality” within the football team is also a ghost hunt, and the author seems to be upset (or oblivious) at the fact that there are biological differences between men and women in regard to strength and speed. Having an equal proportion of men and women in the name of equality might make you feel all warm inside, but that’s not how you win games.

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  6. Evelyn S on November 2nd, 2017 11:58 am

    Seriously confused as to how cheering on girls and encouraging them to compete and participate in athletics is demeaning at all? Powderpuff is such a huge part of the spirit of LAHS and I have never seen anything other than encouragement for the girls who participate. The “coaches” have always been volunteers and have worked WITH the girls to help them succeed. Never have I seen a boy demeaning or patronizing the girls they are coaching, nor have I ever witnessed a boy sitting in the stands pouting because there were girls on the field instead of the guys. This week is not set aside for “making a spectacle” of female athletes, it is for building school spirit and the sense of community and closeness among the student body. This is a celebration of the incredible people in each of our classes and how we can all work together to support each other in friendly competition. Though I respect your opinion and can possibly somewhat sympathize, I’d really love to know how empowering girls to embrace their athleticism and compete in the name of school spirit is demeaning to girls at all. To me, this seems like an over-sensitive response to a problem that barely exists and is quickly being crushed on its own through the community and strength of the LAHS student body.

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  7. Ashley Arrigo on November 7th, 2017 4:42 am

    What I would like to know is, Was there a single female on this flag football team that knew and understood the entirety of football game enough to coach the rest of their team mates? And football is a sport that everyone watches so I’m not understanding your point, I would’ve liked more clarification on all of this and more reasoning as to why you think this way? Have you talked to any of the girls on this team? Because from the way your writing I don’t think it matters if you think it’s degrading, it matters if THAT TEAM thinks it’s degrading, because they’re the ones playing.

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  8. Tara Savoj on February 4th, 2018 10:04 pm

    As a former student at Los Altos High School, I can agree that calling the activity “powderpuff” football is degrading towards women and there athletic abilities. Well I know the activity is made to increase school spirit and unity the classes, I personally never choose to participate because the idea of it made me uncomfortable. In future years I would hope that ASB will be mindful of this point. Students view points need to be addressed weather ASB agrees with it or not this article should not be taken down.

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Opinion: Despite Name Change, Girls Flag Football Retains Sexist Undertones