The #MeToo movement has reached the NFL. But it’s not the executive arm that is bringing issues to light, instead it’s a part of the franchise that is often forgotten. The Washington Redskins cheerleader program is currently under the microscope following a New York Times expose.
In the piece, former Washington cheerleaders alleged that they were forced to pose topless with male suite holders at FedExField during a 2013 photo shoot in Costa Rica. The cheerleaders said that while no sex was involved, at least one described the feeling as being “pimped out.”
“They weren’t putting a gun to our heads, but it was mandatory for us to go,” one of the cheerleaders told Times reporter Juliet Macur. “We weren’t asked, we were told. Other girls were devastated because we knew exactly what [squad director Stephanie Jojokian] was doing.”
In a follow up interview with NPR, Macur said she didn’t name the cheerleaders because of a confidentiality agreements they signed with the team. Most professional cheerleader contracts require outside appearances which can include charity events, “But what was evidently unsaid was that these women would be mandated to go out with sponsors and entertain them.”
The report also outlined several other instances of the cheerleaders forced into uncomfortable positions, such as a mandatory boat trip with sponsors in 2012 that was described as “a wild gathering, where men shot liquor into the cheerleaders’ mouths with turkey basters. Below the deck, men handed out cash prizes in twerking contests.”
This is not the first group of cheerleaders to allege improper actions, in March of this year, a New Orleans Saints cheerleader filed a lawsuit against the NFL citing an unfair double standard over the rules for the team’s female and male employees after she was fired for violating a cheerleader-specific social media policy.