Mercer Maniacs: paint is for boys only?

I attended the football game against Valparaiso Saturday, Oct. 12, and got to sit behind the wonderful Mercer Maniacs. This student organization works hard to fill the stadium with energetic students to cheer on our football team. They drove around on a golf cart giving out tickets to any student they passed on Friday to promote attendance. They also maintain the widespread college tradition of painting up to add visual support for the players. I have always loved the idea of painting up. The quirkiness of spelling out cheers on people’s stomachs, and the metaphor for individuals bonding together to form a complete sentence is too gimmicky to resist. That is why most universities have a group of students that paint up at sporting events.  I wanted to join in on this amusing experience, and asked if I could paint up with the Maniacs.

However, I was told that I could not paint up because I am a girl, and a girl painting up would be considered immodest and trashy. This shocked me. Obviously, according to today’s social standards, a female would have to wear a sports bra when painting up. She would automatically be wearing more clothing than a male, who only has to wear shorts, and can expose the entirety of his chest. These boys are not considered immodest. Immodesty, therefore, cannot be defined by the amount of skin showing, or else the boys would be considered even less modest than girls if they painted up.

At first I thought it might have been a university-imposed stipulation on the Maniacs, but found out it was not. Then I thought about the dance and cheer teams, though, which perform on the field and rotate throughout the stadium. The cheerleaders wear white tank tops and skirts, which show the majority of their arms and legs. The dance team’s new uniforms include an orange sports bra with either pants or a skirt. These team outfits are functional and stylish, not trashy. There would be no difference between a dance team member and a crowd member wearing a sports bra and pants, other than that the dancer would show support through movement while the crowd member would show support through paint.

The greatest irony in all of this was that the Maniacs had painted up pink to promote breast cancer awareness. Both males and females are affected by breast cancer, but women have a far greater chance of developing the disease than men. Yet I, as a woman, was not allowed to assist in an awareness campaign about this disease, which affects primarily women, because I am a woman. Discriminating against a female by preventing her from painting up is wrong, as is shaming a female who decides to paint up to show her support for her team. The Mercer Maniacs need to at least discuss inclusion of women in this activity. I am sure that Tot would love the female support.