Not going far enough

Remember the fuss when the Norwegian women’s beach handball team was fined by the European Handball Federation during a tournament because their players ditched the regulation bikini bottoms in favor of shorts? In response to the charges of blatant sexism (since men were allowed to wear shorts), the EHF has quietly changed its regulations.

The International Handball Federation has responded to widespread accusations of sexism by changing its rules around women’s uniforms to allow bike shorts and tank tops instead of bikini bottoms and crop tops.

At some point over the past month the IHF has quietly altered its regulations for beach handball, which now stipulate that “female athletes must wear short tight pants with a close fit”. Male athletes can still wear regular shorts as long as 10cm above the knee “if not too baggy”.

Female athletes have spoken out against uniform double standards numerous times. Women are required to wear more revealing outfits in several sports, including track and field, beach volleyball and tennis.

In 2011, the Badminton World Federation decreed that women must wear skirts or dresses to play at the elite level in order to help revive flagging interest in women’s badminton.

The new dress codes still seem sexist to me, since they require women to wear ‘short tight pants with a close fit’ while men can wear regular shorts.

I don’t see any reason for any dress code. Players should be allowed to choose team uniforms that enable them to compete at their best while not giving them an unfair advantage over other competitors.


  1. says

    Mano, there is a huge community of stealthy sports voyeurs. If you look on youtube, you’ll find that runners, pole vaulters, long jumpers, etc. wear skimpy outfits and have large bodies (100,000+) of fans who watch clips of them doing their thing. Speaking of: pole vaulters’ outfits are ridiculous; basically booty shorts. Why?

    I’m a fan of booty, but why not pay strippers, if that’s the objective of the objectification?

  2. Holms says

    The decision makers seem to think the most important attribute of a female athlete is not he skill or athleticism, but how fuckable she is. What odds do I hear that these decision makers are men…?

  3. says

    Holms is entirely correct here. The international sporting authorities deserve shame, and the activism should continue: we need not be satisfied with this half-ass (pun intended) change from bikini bottoms to revealing shorts. Athletes should wear the clothing and protective equipment that works best for the athlete: if the viewer wants porn, there’s more than enough porn out there made by people happy to make it.

  4. Ice Swimmer says

    Male pole vaulters seem to also wear tight shorts often. I wonder if they do it because they don’t want the clothing to catch on the bar (this may be both a mental and a physical thing). However, I see no physical advantage for the women’s hotpants.

    There are some events which do need dress codes, but the most prominent example I know is a winter event, ski jumping. The ski jumping suits can be designed so that they provide so much lift that the jumps become dangerously long, so the International Ski Federation has mandated tight and form-fitting suits for both male and female athletes*. Still, the suits leave a lot for the imagination.

    I agree with Crip Dyke. If somebody wants pron, there’s plenty of pron around, no need to ogle athletes.
    * = Athletes and teams have been trying to find ways around this including stuffing their underpants with rags when the suit was being checked and then ditching the rags before jumping. It’s a cat-and-mouse game with allegations of corruption and favouritism.

  5. EigenSprocketUK says

    There is plenty of pron around. But this way, higher-paying “respectable” sponsors get to put their names on it and benefit from it, while not being responsible for it. More lucrative for the sports industry, I guess.

  6. lanir says

    I feel like this will stop as soon as a group of each sex decides to swap dress codes and have the males show up in the skimpy dresses and bikinis while the females show up in shorts and t-shirts.

    I understand having a dress code for this stuff to some degree. They probably want to control advertising. But beyond that or proper protective gear the rest is usually just petty nonsense from control freaks.

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