by J. S. Smith
Parents in Southern California are understandably disturbed that videos of their teenage daughters cavorting about in sexually tantalizing clothing have been showing up for sale on the Internet auction site e-Bay. That's not exactly how the news media begin their reports on the story, but still, it is a pretty fair assessment of the situation.
Some lecherous entrepreneur carries his camcorder to high school football games, blending in among the band parents and middle-aged dads reliving their own gridiron glory vicariously through their sons on the field. Lecherous Entrepreneur, however, is not taping the trombonist or right tackle; surreptitiously, his lens is zoomed in on the young girls in miniskirts and belly-bearing tops as they perform gymnastic and dance routines which expose more and more of their desirable flesh. Immoral? Yes. Unjustified? Of course. Exploitative? Obviously. Criminal? Apparently not.
Prosecutors in Southern California would just love to go after this guy, even more forcefully than the investigative reporters who track him down through his Post Office box. The trouble is that there is nothing illegal about videotaping people in public places. He was not peeping through their bathroom windows or hanging out around the locker room. Every detail captured on his camcorder was performed in public before thousands of people.
One family sat down with their cheerleader daughter, and an intrepid reporter, with a copy of the $70 videotape. "You can feel the discomfort in the room and see it on their faces because for the first time they're seeing their child through the eyes of someone else," reports Ana Garcia. Lecherous Entrepreneur has trained his trusty lens "on their mouths, breasts, and crotches, freezing shots under their skirts, during kicks and splits."
But there is a short-circuit in everybody's indignation. Lecherous Entrepreneur did not manipulate the video to make it appear these girls were doing things they were not. He did not digitally place their pure heads upon the borrowed bodies of Vegas Showgirls. These young girls performed every suggestive motion and exposed every inch of flesh caught on tape. Mom says, "I don't want that out on the Internet. This is really upsetting to me." Granted the video brings the viewer up close and more personal with her daughter than a spectator would ordinarily get at the football stadium, but, again, the sights that sicken her are on display every Friday night for any pervert with binoculars or a front-row seat. And if $70 a pop can be made, apparently legally, on this kind of smut, rest assured that Lecherous Entrepreneur will have company this fall ... at a football field near you.
The moral issue with cheerleading is not the leading of cheers, and in its infancy, cheerleading was a rather wholesome celebration of school spirit and youthful beauty. It has evolved through the incorporation of gymnastics and racy costumes to something that is the epitome of lewdness. The uniform skirt has steadily crept up the leg to the point that it affords little coverage to begin with and practically none when the cheerleader moves even slightly, let alone when she performs flips, splits, and tosses. The uniform top has likewise shrunk to the point that it exposes the belly and accentuates the chest, much to the delight of Lecherous Entrepreneur and his satisfied customers. Cheerleading has become something of a misnomer. Few spectators are actually willing to be led in cheers by the young women who spend most of their time performing dangerous gymnastics or often racy dance routines.
In spite of its roots in school spirit and extracurricular participation, modern cheerleading traffics in immodesty and lewdness which cannot be sustained under the New Testament. The Holy Spirit's desire is that women "adorn themselves in modest apparel...which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works," having long ago warned that a "lovely woman who lacks discretion" is like a swine with a gold ring in its snout (I Timothy 2:8-10; Proverbs 11:22). She should be defined instead by the hidden person of her heart, having the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit (I Peter 3:4).
The indecent bodily movements of the modern cheerleader suggest a sexual invitation to the young, weak, or perverted heart (Galatians 5:19-21). The private and more alluring parts of her anatomy are exposed, emphasized, and animated in an enticing fashion which only a fool would deny.
After seeing herself on the e-Bay video, one cheerleader complained, "I won't feel comfortable going out on the football field in my uniform again. You have no clue who is watching you and for what reason." True -- but that is the case with or without a camcorder in the hands of Lecherous Entrepreneur. Is this what it takes to get through to the people -- many of them Christians -- who condone or encourage cheerleading today?
John Scheibe, "Parents Upset Over Cheerleader Videotape," The Venrtura County Star, 2 June 2006