Mankinis for Mayo matches? Why not?

On the Edge

STANDING UP TO SEXISM The Norwegian women’s beach handball team, who were fined for refusing to wear bikini bottoms in the recent European Championships. Pic: Norwegian Handball Federation

On The Edge
Áine Ryan

WITH temperatures soaring in Croke Park for the Mayo-Galway Championship scorcher on Sunday, July 25, why in God’s name weren’t our boys wearing mankinis?
After all, if Borat can do it, surely Leeroy Keegan and Aidan O’Shea can?  
It’s a no-brainer for this columnist in light of the fact that such attire would have kept them cooler, ensured better flexibility and kicking power and, indeed, have been more pleasing to they eye for all the female fans.
Bet the Norwegian women’s beach-handball team would have agreed. They were recently fined €1,500 by the disciplinary committee of the European Handball Federation for wearing ‘improper clothing’ after they chose to wear shorts instead of bikini bottoms during a bronze-medal game against Spain during the European Beach Handball Championships.        
According to the rule, the International Handball Federation requires women players to wear bikini bottoms with ‘a close fit and cut on an upward angle toward the top of the leg’. (I am laughing out loud as I write this. Ffs!)
Furthermore, the sides of the bikini bottoms must be no more than 10cm deep. Meanwhile, men can wear shorts that can reach down to 10cm of their knees, once they are not too baggy.   
Wouldn’t you just love to know who wrote that handbook? I’ll wager it was some ageing executive who has a paunch and a predilection for watching young girls’ butts wobble.  
Responding to the furore, Martine Welfler, one of the Norwegian players, said: “I don’t see why we can’t play in shorts. With so much body shaming and stuff like that these days, you should be able to wear a little bit more when you play.”
Unsurprisingly, the Norwegians have been repeatedly complaining to the International Federation about this rule since 2006. Defending the position, the federation’s spokesperson, Jessica Rockstroph, said: “Globally, we know that other countries like to play in bikinis, for example, especially in South America.”
At least the debacle has put focus on the ridiculousness of this institutionalised sexism. President of the Norwegian Handball Federation, Kåre Geir Lio has argued that there is ‘no reason women should be required to wear bikini bottoms in games’. “Women should have the right to have a uniform they think is suitable for performing in their sport,” he said. His organisation has argued that the requirement is also insensitive to certain country’s cultural norms.
A motion by the organsiation to change the rule is expected to be discussed by the International Handball Federation in November.
Why wait that long though? Isn’t it a no-brainer that if the women don’t want to wear bikini bottoms their wish should be granted immediately? Have an extraordinary meeting if the stupid bureaucracy demands that. It is truly ridiculous.
As Martine Welfler said: “Female players were tired of being scrutinised in skimpy attire, instead, the focus should be on the game.”
Surely it is risible in this day and age that the ten Norwegian team members were each fined €150 for wearing shorts rather than bikini bottoms?  

Exposing sexism
OF course it is not only in the above sport that skimpy sportswear has been defined as de rigueur. Many women have spoken out over recent times about being obliged to be attired in revealing outfits for track, field and tennis games and competitions. Ten years ago the Badminton World Federation directed that women players must wear skirts or dresses at elite level, in a bid to revive interest in the women’s game.
Doesn’t that say it all?       
Indeed back on home turf, ladies Gaelic football players are allowed wear shorts, but camogie players must wear skirts, skorts or divided skirts, according to the rules. Go figure.