One for you and three for me

And here’s another one on the same theme. How women who play badminton really ought to do it in a skirt because…well you know.

May 7, 2011

What was that I was just saying about beauty pageants for little girls and hyper-sexualization of girls and women and the way that plays out in gymnastics and ballet and ice skating where men usually wear clothes while women always wear bathing suit equivalents?


The Badminton World Federation has made a new rule that women players have to wear skirts or dresses. Yes really – to play a sport, women have to wear skirts. Queen Victoria would so approve.

Scottish badminton player Imogen Bankier

The BWF has received feedback from various parties with regards to the introduction of Rule 19.2 of the General Competition Regulations which require female players to wear skirts or dresses for Level 1 to 3 tournaments. This specific regulation has its genesis in the extensive review into the marketing and events structure conducted by an external international marketing agency in 2009.

Well why stop there then – if it’s a matter of marketing, why not make a new rule saying women have to wear makeup and long flowing hair and V-neck halter tops and stiletto heels along with their skirts? Why not tell them to stop playing and do a pole dance instead?

The BWF has developed guidelines to go alongside the new Regulation, to ensure that it will not in any way discriminate against any religious or other beliefs and respects women. Players will continue to wear shorts if they wish but simply wear a skirt over the top of the shorts, as is often practiced already by some players.

Oh isn’t that kind and sensitive and liberal – all women have to do is add an extra, bulky garment that won’t disadvantage them in any way at all apart from interfering with their freedom to move. It won’t degrade them in any way at all except for pointlessly and stupidly sticking a Gender Label on them at the behest of a marketing agency. It won’t treat them as second-class in any way at all except by ordering them to put their Gender Identity ahead of their athletic goals.

Deputy president of the WBF Paisan Rangsikitpho says it’s “never been the intention of the BWF to portray women as sexual objects,” it’s just that they’re trying to get more people to pay attention to badminton and they figure this is the way to do it.


  1. Philip Legge says

    …badminton has bigger concerns than the players’ attire.


    The difference in financial reward between genders might be telling, though one might hope badminton has enough similarity to tennis for prize money for professionals to be roughly comparable and fair, as opposed to sports like any of the different codes of football/soccer/rugby which are incredibly heavily weighted against women in almost every variable you care to assess: overall money from paying crowds, player salaries, advertising and merchandising, television rights and media coverage, general name recognition, etc. etc. etc.

    And let’s not even consider sports such as beach volleyball where the discrepancy between male and female attire is clear fanservice aimed at pandering to the Male Gaze. (As a bisexual man, I will propose some casual reverse sexism by saying I would love to see the men beach volleyballers to go for equally skimpy beach togs as the women.) Many sports have similar clothing codes for both genders, and ones like this really stick out as exceptions.

  2. Pteryxx says

    But, but they HAVE to wear skirts, otherwise audiences might mistake them for athletes instead of women!


  3. says

    Re: Beach volleyball

    I’m not aware of any sex-specific regulations concerning the type of clothing; the international rules specify only “shorts or a bathing suit.” I don’t know any current pros who play internationally, but some of my female acquaintances who wear the sports bikinis on the stateside tours have stated that they do so by choice for freedom of movement. It doesn’t appear that there is even much pressure from the tour administrators to sex it up; there are some players who wear one-piece suits and even a few who play in shorts and sports bras or t-shirts.

  4. Scote says

    “jasonloveless says:
    October 22, 2011 at 6:34 pm

    Re: Beach volleyball

    I’m not aware of any sex-specific regulations concerning the type of clothing; “

    Beach Volleyball has very specific rules for Men’s and Women’s uniforms.

    Men get to wear tank tops and shorts. Women have to wear a sportsbra-like top and bottoms with high cut hips or a one-piece with high cut hips.


    2.2.1 Style (see diagram 4.1)
    The TANK TOP must fit closely to the body and the design must be with open arms, respecting the space for the required placements of the manufacturer trademark, player number, country flag and country code, also respecting the place for the player’s name.

    The SHORTS must be in accordance with the enclosed diagram and not be baggy.
    For all players, the bottom of the shorts must be a minimum of 15 cm above the top of the knee


    2.3.1 Style (see diagram 4.2)
    The TOP must fit closely to the body and the design must be with deep cutaway armholes on the back, upper chest and stomach (2-piece), respecting the space required for the manufacturer logo, player number, country flag/country code and the place for the player’s name.
    The BRIEFS should be in accordance with the enclosed diagram, be a close fit and be cut on an upward angle towards the top of the leg. The side width should be maximum 7 cm.
    The ONE PIECE uniform must closely fit and the design musrespecting the space for the required inscriptions to be made.

    You can find the diagram on page 7 the rules PDF:

  5. Marie the Bookwyrm says

    “it’s just that they’re trying to get more people to pay attention to badminton and they figure this is the way to do it.”

    If the men were required to play wearing only jockstraps, I’ll bet badminton would get a LOT more attention. :)

  6. says

    @scote: Those regulations are for the Olympic uniforms specifically. While it’s still troubling, as far as I can tell the rulebook for the tour itself does not specify different uniform types for each sex.

  7. John D says

    I play badminton in a club twice a week. It is a real mix of people and it is an awesome time. I am one of the few white guys, but they all put up with me. About a third of our players are women. Some of the women are better players than I am.

    I asked about this controversy with the skirts. All the players just kind of shrugged. Whatever. I guess when someone plays a game for money they are entertainers. Sometimes this requires a dress code.

    My friend Janice said jokingly “Maybe the women do this to distract the male players during doubles.” Janice is a good player. She usually beats me, but she had a bad night so I beat her tonight.

    You all should really try badminton. It is a really good workout and can be very competitive. If you are playing in the US you are bound to find there are players from all over the world since badminton is popular across the world but not so much in the US.

  8. Emrysmyrddin says

    This makes me RAGE. They’re trying (read: doing it) to women’s boxing as well:

    …and a great (and suitably pissed off) reaction from an industry insider:

    Athletes, people. ATHLETES. Not there for your jerkoffery – they’re the best at what they do. Why strip them of that well-earned pride by assigning them as eye-candy?

  9. julian says

    AIBA asked boxers to trial the skirts, which they said would allow spectators to distinguish them from men,

    First all, fuck them.

    And secondly,

    I have a suggestion. Athletes should be allowed to wear any clothing that does not put them at risk to injury. They, after all, know what fits their body type best and are going to have to compete (yes compete, not perform) in whatever they show up in. The decision on what to wear should, therefore, be up to them.

  10. julian says

    Wearing shorts is not a good way for women boxers to dress

    Why not? They’re comfortable. They fit. Blood and sweat is gonna get on ’em no matter what. So what does it matter?

  11. says

    Skirts for boxing? That’s…

    You fall down in boxing. Who the hell wants to wear a skirt when she knows she has a good chance of being knocked down as part of the sport? That’s just idiotic, and degrading. “Huh huh huh wanna look up your skirt huh huh huh.”

  12. julian says

    Athletes are the best at what they do… no doubt, but professional sport is really about entertainment.

    No it’s about competition between to very able and very competitive athletes. That’s what makes the game worth watching. That’s what provides the tension and resolution a sports audience craves.

    If the sport is entertaining the audience will grow and there is more money and fame for the athletes.

    So let’s just make the women topless then, so John D can beat off to them.

    Maybe forcing wearing a skirt is a bad idea, I don’t know for certain. I am sure some people (probably many of them woman) think the skirts are attractive and classy.

    Did you read the article. Many of the more vocal opponents are women who box who feel it would be degrading. To quote one “I don’t even wear mini-skirts on a night out, so I definitely won’t be wearing mini-skirts in the ring.”

    Why don’t the wishes of the actual competitors matter here? They’re the ones engaging in a very dangerous sport because they enjoy the thrill and the competition. Why should they be forced to wear something they find degrading?

    If you believe this is about puerile voyeurism you live in a strange place in your mind…. it must be all spooky and OCD-ish.

    Says the man beating off to a Victoria’s Secret catalouge. Christ, what are you? twelve?

  13. says

    Protip: Beginning your screed by telling everyone what X is “really about” is a fantastic way to inherit negative credibility.

    Clearly, professional sports are “really about” more than entertainment, else they’d all look like the WWE. The fact that there exist women’s sports — soccer, basketball — that both feature comparatively modest uniforms and have solid fan-bases disputes the notion that overt sexuality is a necessary component for male interest.


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