Quite a torrid affair. For those, like me, who came to the story late, here’s the run-down:
The IPL honchos fired Gabriella Pasqualotto, a 22-year-old South African cheerleader, after a cricketer (possibly Australian) complained about some anonymous blog posts she wrote (and her Twitter account is here).
If you’re looking for the writings in question, they’re apparently hosted by The Alternative Cricket Almanack, one of the fresher cricket blogs around. This is the part that’s driving some people batty:
‘Ol Graeme Smith will flirt with anything while his girlfriend lurks behind him. The Aussies are fun but naughty, such as Aiden Blizzard and Dan Christian. By the end of a crazy evening, a certain someone had played kissing catchers with three girls known to me only, although he has his own girlfriend back home. He cooed to each girl, “Come home with me, I just want to cuddle!’
Oh, please! I have come to realise that cricketers are the most loose and mischievious sportsmen I have come across. Makes me wonder if I should worry about them more then the commoners on the street! I still have a long while here, so I shall keep my tip list in mind.
I don’t know what to make of this. My thoughts on IPL cheerleaders should be fairly clear by now: I don’t like that they’re around; I don’t like that they’re mostly white, and no, I’m not inclined to feel better about the Indian IPL cheerleaders either. This isn’t the first time an IPL cheerleader controversy has erupted; during the South Africa season, it came out that the Indians organizing the event didn’t want any black cheerleaders.
But I’m not blaming Pasqualotto for the excerpt above. That’s obviously the men’s fault. We’ve known for some time that cricketers aren’t the best behaved gentlemen, Victorian game or no. Recall Dileep Premachandran’s chilling column on ‘attitood.’ Ideally, cricketers wouldn’t behave like other types of athletes, but in the modern era — constant touring, training and money — it’s hard to fight this evolution. Of course, respecting women and their rights should be part of this trend as well.
Pasqualotto knew she was taking a risk with her blog posts (hence the anonymity), but her dismissal seems an overreaction. I also recall a moment from college when a post-colonialism professor told us he didn’t worry too much about Baywatch in America, but more about the fact it will be watched by millions of Indians. The white foreign cheerleader allows the Indian man all he could ever want: a hyper-sexualized portrayal of thoroughly passive femininity (they cheer on the men), but also a barrier that keeps their ‘lewdness’ from spreading into domestic culture (leaving Indian women hostage to archaic gender conventions).
One can make an argument that liberated women in the West can enjoy projecting their sexuality as part of their freedom (a debatable point, to be sure). But what happens when these women collide with an ancient civilization like India’s? Pasqualotto provides the answer:
To the citizens, we are practically like walking porn! All eyes are on you all the time; it is complete voyeurism. The women double take, see you and then pretend you do not exist. The men see your face, then your boobs, your butt, and then your boobs again! As we walk, all you hear is “IPL, IPL!” with a little head jingle!