Muscle Match Goes Prude


Alex Miller

Seniors Evan Clark and Koen Skies play in the 2021-2022 muscle match, prior to the dress code changes.

Muscle Match, a storied event at Conifer High, hit some controversy this year regarding its newly implemented dress code. The boys involved were no longer allowed to shroud themselves in teeny tiny booty shorts and revealing sports bras, nor were they permitted to paint themselves with suggestive numbers. Gregory Manier, interim principal of Conifer High School, initiated the new change. In his words, the behavior displayed by the players did not follow what the game was “originally intended to be.” 

This calls into question what the original intent of the event was. Some claim that it was a chance for the opposite gender to play a sport not usually dedicated to their sex. I think there is something more at play. The true intent of Muscle Match was to perpetuate a running joke, femininity. Typically athletic men gather once every school year to wear bras, booty shorts, headbands, and body paint. All for a good laugh. The game always seems to be a sideshow to the joke. Has the female image been reduced to a stand-up show performed by the typical macho man? Has volleyball always come second in the match? Has Conifer High School finally started pulling their image away from that joke, a joke I would argue is harmful to the feminist and her movement? An activist cannot be taken seriously by the masses, and a woman cannot be taken seriously if her image is so grotesquely portrayed by the opposite sex.

There is also the argument to be made that the dress code is a representation of the censorship surrounding women and femininity. This dress code, while well-intentioned, reveals an unsavory side of schools in America. For the longest time, it has not been about holding all students accountable to one standard, but rather just female students to a standard. For example, Arkansas House Bill 1936  specifically targets female students in their dress. The bill requires “school districts to prohibit the wearing of clothing that exposes underwear, buttocks, or the breast of a female.” Administrators block off short shirts and shoulders, knees and ankles, and when men dress this way for an event, they block that too. It calls into question if dress codes are aimed at women or femininity as a whole? The female image has become such a sexualized one in school settings that it has come to be viewed as threatening to male-centric power structures. There is a power that comes from confidence in your body, from your expression.

Senior Maddox Rife plays in the 2021-2022 Muscle Match. The new dress code for the game this year will make it so players are unable to wear sports bras or body paint with suggestive messages at the event. (Alex Miller)

Why should men enjoy the expression of the female image without the negatives that come with being a woman? According to statistics collected by the Pew Research Center,  four in ten women have faced gender-based discrimination in the workplace. Women do not just face discrimination in the workplace but also harassment in their general lives. One in six women has or will be sexually assaulted in their life. (RAINN) 

I do, however, have to commend the school administration for correcting a double standard that they have perpetuated for many years in the school’s past. They have begun to recognize the hypocrisy in how they were letting the boys dress. If a restrictive dress code is going to be enforced on women, that dress code should apply if men are dressing up as women for a “shtick”.