How the LFL preyed upon a 13 year old girl, and their true intentions for young women.
The Lingerie Football League…Love it or hate it, the LFL sure has been the centre of much discussion in recent months!
By now we know what the ‘true fantasy sport’ is all about. We know it requires its players to sign contracts accepting ‘instances of accidental nudity’. We know the women don’t receive health insurance or compensation against medical injuries. We also know that aside from the ‘All Star Games’, the female athletes don’t get paid. And a lot of us know that the LFL founder, Mitch Mortaza, uses the exploitation of women to put more money in his pockets.
What you may not know however, is that Mortaza’s exploitation of women doesn’t stop with college-age students. In October last year Mortaza, who was keen to start recruiting younger women to join the LFL, reached out to a high school football player in a bid to secure her as his official spokesperson for young women.
Mortaza did not choose just any school girl however. He reached out to one of the most famous teenagers in the world.
Paris Jackson, daughter of the late Michael Jackson.
She was 13 years old.
In a letter to the Jackson Estate, Mortaza wrote:
“It was recently brought to the attention of the Lingerie Football League LLC offices that Ms. Paris Jackson has a strong interest in the game of football and that she plans on competing within the boys team due to a lack of options for competitive female football. […]
We at the LFL would like to invite Paris to become the spokesperson for the LFL’s youth program and perhaps start training for a future football career in the LFL when she reaches the age of 18 yr old. (http://jezebel.com/5852652/lingerie-football-league-courts-paris-jackson-as-youth-spokesperson)
Stop for a moment and ponder on this. Not only was Mortaza trying to exploit a barely teenage girl’s celebrity status to create a false sense of empowerment in female sport, but he deliberately preyed on a young girl who he knew had lost her father only several years beforehand, and would most likely have vulnerabilities. Research proves that girls who grow up without a father, especially those under the age of 13, are at a higher risk of negative lifestyle factors including promiscuity, pregnancy and depression. They are also more likely to seek the attention they would usually receive from their fathers, from other men instead.
“Females without father figures often become desperate for male attention…[In the absence of a father] there is a constant need to be accepted by men from whom they aggressively seek attention – Bogan & Krohn, in. L. Mancini, 2011, p11.
Furthermore, teenagers are very impressionable. The teenage years are a time of much questioning and doubt, as young women seek to discover who they are, and often look to their peers and celebrities to form their identities.
Research such as this is not news to most of us, and I have no doubt that Mortaza knows it as well.
Even worse than his attempts to exploit young girls and their vulnerabilities however, is that he attempts to disguise his true intentions by suggesting that he is creating more opportunities for female athletes. The “I’m on your side” approach is a move not unlike those used by sexual predators, and has become the staple approach of advertising companies.
“…Like the sexual predator, corporation’s market products to young people by pretending to be their friend. And, like the sexual predator, corporations actively ramp up the sexualised images and products they use, to lower kids’ inhibitions around sex, to get them to do what they want.” – Maggie Hamilton, writing in ‘Big Porn Inc: Exposing the Harms of the Global Pornography Industry’, 2011, p 17.
While TMZ reported that the LFL would not require the teenagers to wear lingerie, the question remains, is this a strong female sport that empowers young women?
As the entertainment website writes, “Is a league that parades adult women around in their underwear really the right fit for mentoring KIDS?”
I was relieved to see that Paris Jackson was far too smart to fall for Mortaza’s sugar coated offer. I’m guessing he wasn’t betting on a young woman who is both athletic AND stunningly beautiful, to be intelligent as well.
In an interview with Oprah earlier this year, Paris revealed just what a strong young woman she is as she opened up about her life since her dad’s passing, and her experience with bullying.
Paris inner strength and beauty has the potential to empower young women in a truly powerful way.
I believe that Paris grace, strength and integrity are important qualities that have the potential to reach other girls in ways far more powerful, and positive, than spreading a message that to be powerful, confident and strong you need to exploit your sexuality.
Let’s be honest. Taking your clothes off for the attention of others is not empowering. Being strong enough to stand for something rather than falling for the norms of society, being a positive role model for others your own age, and using your own personal turmoils and experiences to help empower others, is.
Bogan, Z & Krohn, F.B. In L. Mancini (2010). ‘Father Absence and it’s Effects on Daughters’, p11. http://library.wcsu.edu/dspace/bitstream/0/527/1/Final+Thesis.pdf
Hamilton, M. In Eds. M. Tankard Reist & A. Bray. (2011). ‘Big Porn Inc: Exposing the Harms of the Global Pornography Industry’. Spinifex: Victoria, p 17.