NFL policies unfairly target female fans

Head of Vikings security Kim Klawiter shows off the clear vinyl bag the team is sending to ticketholders, so they can comply with new security measures that will be in place at the Metrodome, starting against Houston on Aug. 9th. (MPR Photo/Tim Nelson)
League’s new policy for bags, purses hardly ‘All-Clear’ from the start

By Meigan Rennels
Guest Contributor

Recently I attended my very first NFL game ever, to cheer on the Bears at Soldier Field here in Chicago. It was only a preseason game so not many of the big names were out on the field. But I couldn’t have been more excited if the Bears were recruiting me to replace Cutler as the wimpiest quarterback in history.

Actually I think I was more excited to watch than to if I were playing – linebackers are HUGE.

It was a Thursday night game and I take public transit into the city for work, so I had planned to meet my sister and her boyfriend where they were parking allow me to drop off my work stuff and we could all take the Bears shuttle from Millennium Park to Soldier Field. The shuttle is run by Soldier Field – the employees are all dressed in official NFL Soldier Field gear. This is an important note for later in the story.

We jumped on the shuttle (I haven’t been on a school bus in almost a decade) and from the drop-off point there is a bit of a walk to the entrance to the stadium.

Finally we approached the gate to the stadium. I was so excited! I was practically running to get into the famed stadium where the Bears have won and lost while I cheered or railed from my couch.

As we approach we notice several NFL-bedecked staff members hailing groups of people with information. I paused, bouncing on the balls of my feet to contain my joy for just a moment longer before we could enter the land of dreams.

SFmapA young woman hands us a flier and tells us that NFL policy no longer allows bags larger than 4.5×6.5 inside the stadium. We can either return to our car – a 1.5 mile walk sans shuttle – or we can use a locker to hold our purses until the end of the game, for a marginal fee of $10. Or we can purchase NFL-approved bags that are completely clear, and completely hideous.

I was enraged. Why, dear Soldier Field, darling, NFL, could you not have informed attendees that bags – of virtually any serviceable size – were no longer allowed? Could you not have informed us before we boarded the convenient shuttle that your Soldier Field employees run? Could you not have printed it on the back of the season tickets my sister’s boyfriend provided us? Could we not have been warned in time to return our bags to our car?

The answer to that is of course not, because if the NFL had provided this information at a reasonable time, women would not have had to pay the “Lady Tax” that the NFL has now so cleverly devised for female fans.

If the NFL had made this rule widely known women would have left bags at home, switched purses to clutches, worn baggy sweatshirts to hide a large purse–anything other than paying $10 for a locker at the gate of the stadium because we were denied any other option.

But that would have defeated the NFL’s true purpose: imposing a tax on the women attending games. Because that is what this new “no bags” rule is–a tax on women attending football games.

So little lady, you want to watch a football game with the men? Ha! That will cost you an additional $10, sweetheart.

The NFL has obviously decided that since it has received such bad publicity following the Ray Rice debacle, the best solution was to deter women from being fans of the NFL by charging them an additional fee to attend football games.

The NFL had to hire lawyers, fire employees, rescind contracts. All because women were outraged by the systematic cover-up surrounding abusive players to ensure they were able to play after knocking women unconscious and beating children. The NFL lost money betting on wife beaters and now they are passing that cost on to the demographic they blame for the loss, women.

Men do not carry bags. Men are not concerned about the new “All-Clear” policy. Men can enter stadiums with their wallets and baggy pants with multiple pockets. Men aren’t being told their property is a security risk. Despite the fact that violent crimes are more likely to be committed by men than women, men are not being levied with new and frustrating rules that make it harder for them to attend games. That privilege is specifically for the fans with double X

You’re probably thinking that I am overreacting. I know about the rule now, so I can purchase an NFL-approved bag for any other games I attend.

But there is a problem with the NFL-approved bags other than the fact that it’s ridiculous to purchase a bag for the sole purpose of attending a game.

They are completely see-through.

“All-clear” is the slogan the NFL is using to promote their Lady Tax. The NFL says all bags must be clear for security purposes. They do not want to stop people at the gate to search bags, so bags must be clear.

I do not want to carry a clear bag. I do not want everyone to be able to see the crap I carry in my purse. And neither do most women.

I do not want to carry a clear bag. I do not want everyone to be able to see the crap I carry in my purse. And neither do most women.

An average bag probably contains: wallet, chapstick/lipstick, hand sanitizer, tissues, jewelry, lotion, pens, tums, and of course the ever present pads and/or tampons.

I really do not want everyone in Soldier Field knowing when I’m on my period because they can clearly see the Midol, pads, tampons, chocolate, Tylenol, and whatever else floating around my bag.

As someone who lives with a chronic illness, I also do not want everyone to see the prescription bottles – with my address stamped on them – I carry around in case my arthritis acts up.

I would much rather stand in a bit of a queue to have my bag searched – as I would at virtually any other amusement park, sporting event, or concert – than be told I am only allowed a wallet inside the stadium.

It may sound like I am putting my own desires ahead of the safety of everyone else and efficiency of getting everyone into Soldier Field without searching bags. But I’m not the only one. Women all over the country are standing up and telling the NFL that their new All-Clear policy is placing undue hardship on female fans.

The All-Clear policy lacks logic and understanding. It places a burden on female fans who just want to enjoy a football game like their male counterparts. It emphasizes how out-of-touch the NFL is with its female fan base.

And begs the question: why does the NFL hate women?

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