Ethics Quiz: The University Of Washington Cheerleader Do’s and Don’ts


I have to admit that for me, one potential benefit of the viral political correctness malady that makes virtually any communication a potential threat to one’s career, reputation or physical well-being would be the obliteration of the embarrassment known as “cheerleading squads” from athletic events sidelines and the culture forever.

Nevertheless, this episode from earlier this week warrants examination.

The University of Washington cheerleading team posted an infographic on Facebook Monday night, giving out aspiring cheerleader audition tips.  The team said that it created the graphic “in response to a high volume of student questions about cheer and dance team tryouts.” Similar “do’s and don’ts”  had been posted by the squads at Washington State University and Louisiana State University  but this one caused a full social media freakout.

University of Washington cheerleader tryout advert.

“I can’t believe this is real,” exclaimed UW student Jazmine Perez, director of programming for student government. “One of the first things that comes mind is objectification and idealization of Western beauty, which are values I would like to believe the University doesn’t want to perpetuate,” she said. “As a student of color who looks nothing like the student in the poster, this feels very exclusive.” Another UW student complained, “I think it’s really upsetting and kind of disheartening the way it’s basically asking these women who want to try out to perform their femininity — but not too much. Such a message would never go out to men trying out for a sport.”

The graphic was taken down quickly, because university officials deemed that some might find it offensive….a standard that if followed routinely these days would preclude virtually any statement or graphic about anything. I am sure someone is at work on software right now that will devise within seconds a basis for outrage and offense for any form of expression.

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz today:

Was this an unethical—as in hurtful, irresponsible, incompetent, insulting or unfair—graphic?

My view? It could be called incompetent because the excessive, irrational, race-baiting gotcha! response by professional race-mongers, political correctness bullies and campus social justice warriors was completely predictable, or should have been, for anyone who hasn’t been living blindfolded in a cave over the last few years. Similarly predictable was the Washington State response, which should have been to use the incident to expose the intolerant and restrictive dictatorship of the perpetually offended, and instead handed these speech and expression stranglers and political correctness terrorists another high-profile victory over commons sense.

Yes, the graphic was ridiculous because cheerleading is ridiculous. It is an archaic and anachronistic holdover from the days when few women could compete in sports on campus, and cheerleading squads presented an opportunity to add wholesome but unapologetic sex to male athletic contests while allowing an activity for extroverted co-eds where they could perform in public, achieve social status, and be roundly adored.

The comments by the critics quoted and others are even sillier than cheerleading. Yes, there are cheerleading team competitions, just as there are hotdog eating competitions, but a cheerleading squad is not a sports team. It is sideline entertainment for sports, and everybody knows it: the “sport” label was cleverly devised to provide feminist cover for hot young women who want to dance like Vegas dancers in public but not be called sex objects, which is what cheerleaders are. Since cheerleaders exist to attract attention and be pleasing to look at—especially for men to look at—they must be attractive. I must add, “Duh.” These horrified students are shocked that the requirements for a role in which fitness, attractiveness, sexual glow and feminine charisma are central involve fitness, attractiveness, sexual glow and feminine charisma? They are fools, and ought to be told why.

Such information as is contained in the infographic is a service to those wanting to be cheerleaders, and an essential tool for those who have to choose the squad. The outrage makes as much sense as complaints about an audition notice for  “American Idol” explaining what it means to be a “singer.” (Of course, American Idol wanted deluded auditioners who couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket and who looked like escapees from a carnival side-show so they could be humiliated on TV.)

Most of the features of the ad are obviously innocuous except to that computer program (do I really have to address the “Western beauty” complaint beyond pointing out that there is a predominant culture to deal with, and it can and will evolve, but until it does cultural standards are cultural standards?), but two especially drew fire:

  • “bronze, beachy glow…girl about town lipstick…”
  • The photo of the stereotypical cheerleader is a blonde white girl.

Of the first–yeah, that’s a little sloppy and tone-deaf. It’s hard to see that description applying to anything but an iconic “California girl.” You have to really be determined to see malice, though, to think it means anything but “pasty white won’t help your chances,” and “wear lipstick.”

As for the photo: yup, that’s a cheerleader, all right. Does it say that black girls need not apply? Only if you want to see it that way. A photo is an essential aid. Does anyone think it literally means that only women who have exactly those features depicted will be considered? Only blondes, no redheads? If a black woman’s photo had been used, would that mean that the squad would be black only? If only a mixed race model appeared, what would that mean? If the graphic  failed to include a white, blonde beauty, an Asian cheerleader, a Eurasian cheerleader, a dark, African-featured auditioner, a light-skinned black woman, or another variation, is it reasonable to conclude that the message intended is that the types of women not shown are unwelcome and won’t be given fair consideration?

There is no way out. No announcement giving genuine, useful guidance to potential cheerleaders could avoid every trap and pitfall, so guides for cheerleaders auditions are, in effect, banned speech. This is why this silly episode about a silly activity participated in by a surfeit of silly people matters far beyond its setting. This is terrorism in slow motion, with the objective of employing fear to control conduct, thoughts, expression and tastes.

Somebody has to fight it, and it won’t be university administrators.

37 thoughts on “Ethics Quiz: The University Of Washington Cheerleader Do’s and Don’ts

  1. I always experience a little schadenfreude with stories like this. The same group that hosts Slut Walks telling people not to judge women for displaying sex somehow morph into latter-day puritans the moment someone might enjoy that displayed sex. Then it’s objectification. Because as we all know, the only thing that makes sense is that women put on sexy clothes for themselves, and we should all make sure no one looks at them. Because it doesn’t matter if you’re dressing up like a strangely-coloured, tribadistic land-whale or a perky, bouncing playboy bunny, all women should be found equally attractive by everyone, because attractiveness is a social construct.

    This is part of why I feel the equality movement has connections to Marxism. Anyone who looks at equality of outcomes and hoists disparate outcome as per se discrimination has drank a certain amount of pink Kool-Aid. “It doesn’t matter who you are, or what you do, or how you do it; what matters is that we’re all equal. We should all make the same amount of money (77c), we should all have the same jobs (at least the good ones), and most importantly (to this group in particular) we should all be able to get laid, regardless of how utterly repulsive we are. And anyone who disagrees is a racist. Or something.”

    • Not quite, but close. The thought is that only WANTED people should look, and the wanted and the unwanted should know the difference by osmosis. The rich, jut-jawed football hero is almost always wanted, it goes without saying, while the shorties, baldies, fatties, nebbishes, and those with insufficiently deep pockets should know they aren’t wanted, and turn their eyes elsewhere. The football hero only gets called on his actions if he really oversteps the line, and even then he maybe gets a slap on the wrist, but any of the other guys mentioned doesn’t high-tail it all the way across campus at the first sign the hotty wants him gone, he’s in big, big trouble.

      Frankly, I am beginning to question the value of even knowing a woman, after a fair amount of contact with attention whores online, and that goes triple for women in their twenties. They post semi- or overtly sexual pictures, then cry harassment when the wrong person comments on them, even benignly. They post at length on how they are doing GREAT on their new diet, but snap at anyone who chimes in with a tip to “leave me ALONE.” If they are singers they post homemade music videos, but, if someone offers a comment that’s even the least bit critical, they snarl “if you don’t have anything nice or supportive to say, shut up.” They post drama every time something goes wrong, but bite the heads off anyone who offers a solution that might require… gasp…EFFORT.

      Meantime, they expect men to be making a good buck with good prospects, be able to balance finances, cook, clean, and do everything else necessary to keep a household running, plus own or possess all the necessaries (car, home, etc), and sufficiently cool ones only, please, no owners of beat-up clunker cars or homes in non-prime areas need apply, and meet their exacting standards for physical attractiveness, connections, skill, and intelligence (not too intelligent though, just enough to keep up and keep his mouth shut). On top of that they want these high-level specimens to be humble, deferential, patient, generous, and utterly selfless. After all, a woman, that pink-sneakered, shining, ultra-smart, ultra-beautiful, powerful, six-degrees-of-awesome-just-by-virtue-of-her-gender masterpiece goddess, is doing him the biggest favor any being in this universe can do any other by choosing him. She can un-choose anytime she wants, but if he un-chooses, he best be prepared for some major consequences.

      Who needs it?

      • I wish I knew you. There are times where I just want to invite you over for dinner and give you a hug. This is one of those times.

          • Now I want to give you two hugs. You need to meet more normal women. I don’t know any women who fits your illustrations. It makes me wonder what kind of horrible people you have encountered to give you such a cynical and sad view toward an entire gender.

            • A Chinese-Canadian girl with a taste for getting smacked around by bad boys who used me as her emotional sponge for three years, an attention whore from the Midwest who thought it was OK to dump all her issues in your lap but disappear when you had even the slightest issue, two or three budding singers who expected you to drop everything to flog a new project that was going nowhere and wouldn’t even say “thank you,” and a bevy of rude college cuties who were either coldly hostile or hotly full of hate.

                • It can be a very lonely way to go. Some are actual woman-haters who think women were put here to make dinner and make whoopee. Some are looking at it from an economic standpoint and don’t think it’s worth it between easy DV accusations, ruinous divorces, etc. Still others have been self-sufficient for a while and don’t see the value of turning everything upside down for someone who might bring nothing of value and potentially a lot of liability to the table. I am mostly the last of these three.

                  I have Asperger’s Syndrome (as is probably obvious from my rather long historical writings), and it wasn’t even a diagnosis until I was several years out of college. So the whole teenage and college dating scenes I was quickly driven away from, branded creepy and evil and once threatened with death for paying too much attention to someone. I am the kind of person who usually only needs to be warned once to stop, so I hid completely until the end of college. I graduated law school, passed the bar and went to work. However, out in the world, with no reason to be in contact with women about the same age, 20 years passed very quickly. I had a relationship or two that were mostly online, but all ended badly, as I was usually just a sounding board for problems. At this point I see no point in bothering. I go home, microwave dinner, and then my evening is mine. If I decide I want to take off for Europe for 2 weeks, I just clear it with the boss.

                  I don’t worry that one day I’ll come home and be locked up on an allegation I hit someone when I didn’t, or met at the door and told I should think about other arrangements because someone has grown past this relationship. I can’t help but remember a story I was told about a guy who had 4 antique cars that he put a ton of money and work into, whose wife told him he had to get rid of them or she’d divorce him. So he sold them all off at cut rate prices, no holding out for good deals. The day after the last one rolled out of the driveway she told him “too bad, I changed my mind, I’m divorcing you anyway.” Screw that.

              • I don’t think marriage is necessary for everybody, but having a relationship is critical to one’s well-being. And even if you don’t want a sexual relationship, it is really important to have good friends of both genders.

        • Watch out, Steve. I’d get some sort of written waiver or release well in advance, notarized if possible. DON’T GO ALONE. Wire yourself for sound and video. Have a pre-established egress-plan.

      • You should do some reading up on the MIGTOW movement (Men Going Their Own Way) or the Grass Eaters. It’s the human-scaled occurrence of Calhoun’s “Beautiful Ones”.

        Men going their own way are kind of a big tent movement, so there’s a lot of disagreement on what it is, but basically they look at marriage and relationships in general as exceptionally bad contracts from a liability standpoint, and so they’ve made the conscious decision to be alone.

        Grass Eaters go a step further, it’s more of a…. phenomenon… than it is a movement, and mostly out of Japan. Young men en masse have basically opted out of society. They work just enough hours to make just enough money to be self sufficient and enjoy themselves.

        The term “Grass Eater” was supposed to be derogatory and shame them into being more productive, but they kind of owned it and ran with it. And the effects are just absolutely crippling to Japan’s economy. 10 years from now, we’ll see how this fiber laden turd works it’s way through the system, but I have the feeling that Japan is in for a disproportionate recession, sooner than later.

  2. I think the requirements that the auditioner have a “natural tan, or spray tan”, “bronze, beachy glow” and have her “hair down” means they have a white woman as the ideal cheerleader, certainly not a black girl with natural hair. I think the guide could have simply said, “natural-looking makeup, hair off of face, but no ponytails, no visible tattoos.” And then the attire requirements. Everything else is unimportant. We had a “big girl” cheerleader, many decades ago, at my college. It wasn’t a big deal. She could do all the dances, flips, splits, and cartwheels as the other girls. She was just as enthusiastic as everyone else. She was also very popular and friendly. I don’t think it matters looks-wise as much as it used to, if it ever really did. The guide should have focused more on the stunts that the cheerleaders would have been required to do at audition, rather than what they should have looked like.

  3. It’s a description of the costume and makeup required for a staged performance. End of story, pretty much. Except they could have been a little more inclusive in the description of the skin color and maybe the hair.

    • Yeah, I don’t see the huge fuss. It’s a casting call and they’re giving the general look that they want. I suspect some of the awkward wording is to discourage some trends that they don’t want on the squad: purple hair and picasso tattoos. Some wording should have been vetted, but they want a Charlie’s Angel not anime or video game look that distracts from the athletics.

  4. I’ve got some advice for any students at the University of Washington who are upset or hurt by this job description: Stop studying -studies. Get a degree in economics. You’re enrolled at a fairly reputable, west coast, top tier public university. You’re probably getting a scholarship to be there. Get a degree in economics or a business management degree and then an MBA, learn how to make money, and then… make a bunch of money. Don’t get mad, get even. Make a fortune and donate a bunch of money to UW and become a trustee. Just stop complaining. It’s pointless and you’re missing a tremendous opportunity tons of other kids would give their eye teeth to have. So, enroll in some remunerative courses and head to the library and hit the books.

    You’re welcome.

  5. I agree with everything you wrote Jack. I hate cheerleading too, but there is nothing offensive about the poster.

    Although I was a girly-girl in my day, I would have had no clue what to wear to a cheerleader audition. The graphic would have been helpful to me.

    At my old law firm, the something-or-other committee would send around pictures of “what to wear, what not to wear” every Spring. It was one of my favorite emails to receive — it was amazing to me that some people thought sequins and visible tattoos were appropriate for an Am Law 100. Sometimes a picture is needed.

    If these cheerleaders were smarter though, they would have used a diverse person for the graphic to divert criticism. But, to be fair, I just looked up the diversity numbers for the school — it does look like mostly pasty white kids go there.

    • Hahaha, every year when we get our summer interns we have to send the dress code memo around. I think in 2008 we had to send it out three times in what we later called the “flip flop flap” when female interns and young attorneys would walk into the office in flip-flops and not bother to switch into their professional shoes. No, we don’t want to see your neon nail polish, your toe rings, the crust on your heels, or smell your feet.

      • I’ll admit that women seemed to be the worst offenders of dress code rules. I think it’s because there are more variety in our wardrobe choices, so there is more room for mistakes. That, and apparently some attorneys thought you actually were supposed to dress like the lawyers on TV shows. Too much cleavage, skirts that were too short, etc.

        Men make wardrobe mistakes too — usually thinking that owning 5 polo shirt and 5 khaki pants constituted a proper work wardrobe — but at least I never saw too much man-leg.

  6. But, then there is this kerfuffle brewing in San Antonio:

    Imagine that! A judge requires a lawyer to be dressed appropriately while in court, not frolicking around in guayaberas, Bermuda shorts, drinking margaritas and shouting “¡ole!” instead of “objection”. Oh, the humanity. For some light amusement, read some of the comments. I love the “Hey, it’s Fiesta! We’re San Antone, so lighten up.”

    I am a transplant from Ohio, living in Houston. Every February through the end of March or early April, the city loses its collective mind during the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, where usually mild-mannered professionals from the Northeast (here referred to as “Damned Yankees”) suddenly adopt a southern drawl, don cowboy boots with their suits, and talk about wanting to retire to the family farm to cut the back 40. Judges excuse attorneys for being late to court because the Trail Riders messed up traffic all bloody day long. That also means courtroom attire displays the affinity for the season, with court staff wearing dungarees and those weird Stetson shirts with the strange back stitching, notwithstanding that the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo ceased being a part of the major rodeo competitions long ago so it doesn’t attract the big names in the bull riding circuit as it used to (now, ponder about that sentence for a second if you are brave enough); and its charitable activities are concentrated around the Barbeque Cook Off (usually on a Friday night right smack dab in the middle of Lent, thank you very much, you Baptists!), and the 4H Club is relegated to a minor part of the extravaganza, taking a back seat to big-name cross-over country-western concerts, even though the “Go Tejano” day is the biggest crowd draw of entire thing.


  7. You might be pleased to know that administrators at Yale chose to keep their dorm named Calhoun College, saying that to change it would bury an important but difficult chapter of Yale and American history.

  8. “One of the first things that comes mind is objectification and idealization of Western beauty, which are values I would like to believe the University doesn’t want to perpetuate,”
    If she does not want to be around Western beauty, she should move to Russia.

    • Oh Michael. There are tons and tons of western beauties in Russia. Your average Russian or Ukrainian beauty (the Swedes occupied Ukraine for two hundred years) would outshine any UW cheerleader without even having to put down her vodka for a second.

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