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


Katrina Arsky

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

By Mia Scher, Staff Writer

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 [email protected].

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.