Powderpuff ignites controversy over gender roles

By Denebola
Published: November 2007
By Dan Friedman
Tension between junior and senior girls reaches its peak every year around Thanksgiving. No, it’s not due to petty boy problems €“ those occur often enough throughout the school year without any outside provocations. Instead the tension can be attributed to the annual girls’ football game, commonly known as powderpuff, which will taking place this afternoon.
Powderpuff in general is looked at as a fun way for the upperclassmen girls to compete against each other. Not all students or faculty, however, feel this way.
History department teacher Adrienne Stang feels “the name powderpuff is demeaning to women’s athletic ability.”
According to Stang, the term “powderpuff” originates from when powder rooms existed so women could go “powder their noses.” Calling a sport like football, which is known for its intensity and brutality, by a name like powderpuff implies that girls are fragile and should not be playing a game as rough as football.
While the official name is girls’ football, the fact that people refer to the game by the name powderpuff proves Stang’s point.
Stang also comments that by jokingly switching gender roles for a day, by having girls play a traditionally male game, gender roles are actually reinforced because it is a way for males to mock female’s supposed inability at certain sports.
In spite of Stang’s opinion that powderpuff implies girls are the more delicate gender, most girls involved feel the opposite.
Junior Dana Holt is so caught up in the fervor surrounding the game that she thinks of powderpuff as, “a war between the two classes.”
Teammate Laura Crowe takes it to the next level, with a direct challenge. “I think we have a pretty good shot at winning because I know I could take Natalie Starkey any day.”
Starkey retaliated saying, “we don’t lose, it’s not something we do. And Laura Crowe should watch her back!”
A milder opinion comes from the junior girls’ coach, George Kaplan. In his opinion, the atmosphere is, “playful, but with a competitive edge.”
Another issue relating to switching gender roles is allowing junior and senior boys to be male cheerleaders. The cheerleading provides a way for boy’s to get involved in the spirit of powderpuff.
Junior male cheerleader Alex Caron disagrees with Stang’s opinion that reversing gender roles is a bad thing. “I think powderpuff is all about switching gender roles and it’s a great opportunity for males to see football from another perspective.”
In an age where female athletics are not only allowed but encouraged, and girls like Bridget Dahlberg are capable of running a faster mile than most boys in the school, it is hard to see these old claims of women being “delicate” hold up.
In spite of the various controversies surrounding powderpuff there is no doubt that it increases school spirit and provides an excellent way to spend one’s early release afternoon. So make sure to get out there and show support to your class.

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