From Times of India:
Pune Warriors, during their Indian Premier League (IPL) encounter with Delhi Daredevils on Sunday, unveiled a new concept at the D.Y. Patil Sports Complex by replacing cheergirls with traditional Indian ‘Cheer Queens’ to goad on the team.
The concept is a brainchild of Sahara India Pariwar’s Managing Worker Chairman Subrata Roy. Indian girls dressed in designer ethnic dance costumes to cheered for the Pune Warriors, who are having a great run in their maiden IPL season.
Like Amy S. (forever missed), I generally opposed the presence of cheerleaders on or near the cricket field. The game already suffers from a terrible gender deficit (please! More on-air female commentators, and more female umpires!), and I didn’t feel placing women as eye-candy was the way to fix it. That said, an equally difficult problem was that all the cheerleaders were white, a decision obviously born out of a complex mix of marketing and nationalism. IPL organizers could satisfy the male gaze and local feminists by saying they were protecting Indian women, at the expense of the foreigners’.
Which, of course, is a terrible discourse to perpetuate. Allowing Indian men to cheer on white women isn’t the answer — and I’m not sure I much prefer the traditional Indian alternative described above. But it’s a terribly difficult thicket here: on the one hand, I don’t want to sound like right-wing demagogues, who oppose female cheerleaders because they see any role for women outside the kitchen as inappropriate. On the other hand, it’s galling to see shots of scantily clad white women dancing in front of all those male Indian eyes, like some terrible reversal of colonial edicts. What’s the answer?