NFL season 2023 is upon us. It’s a rite of passage for American society entering the autumn, with more people watching NFL games than any other TV program over the next six months.

Americans will gather around the TV set, their phones and across dozens of stadiums to cheer on their favorite teams, or the wide receivers on their fantasy squad.

They’ll also watch scantily clad people — mostly women — gyrate in ways that made stars of Shakira and Jennifer Lopez.

These are, of course, the NFL cheerleaders. For decades they have entertained the masses with pom-poms and mostly bare torsos, explicitly adding a heterosexual sexual element to entice straight men to cheer during football’s commercial breaks, even as children watched.

This NFL season, that sex appeal should be a source of contention like never before, as some of the same people who celebrate these cheerleaders try to ban drag queens for… dancing, or even just reading stories to children.

Suddenly, the same people who have cheered the cheerleaders for flaunting their sex appeal in front of children are worried about RuPaul in a dress somehow doing the same.

What’s embraced and celebrated by American culture? Women wearing little clothing and attempting to sexually arouse straight men in front of children. Go football!

Rejected? Drag queens daring to appear in public. Blasphemy!

Drag queens’ sexuality does not harm children, of course, in any way beyond that of cheerleaders. The only people who face negative impacts as a result of their sexual objectification are potentially the cheerleaders and drag queens themselves.

I’m not a big fan of drag. Yes, I enjoy some queens like New York’s Jacqueline Dupree, who entertains with an incredible voice, or LA’s Billy Francesca, who entertains with a Ketel One cocktail.

While Ms. Cynthia Dickson has even made the occasional appearance, I’m no Drag Race disciple.

Still, I appreciate the role drag plays in our culture, and its ability to shift gender norms while entertaining.

In recent months, some people — most notably Republicans in Florida, Tennessee and Texas, as well as a few other states — have taken legislative aim at drag queens, claiming they somehow harm children by bringing sex into their lives.

Yet no legislator is trying to bar scantily clad Miami Dolphins or Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders from the public.

Still, you have to wonder why the Cowboys and Cowboys cheerleaders won’t be held to SB 12, signed by Texas Governor Greg Abbott, if drag queens are held to a “sexually oriented” standard.

Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders undeniably sell sex sex sex, despite recent Texas laws banning such behavior.

Make no mistake: The cheerleaders’ dress and movements clearly make them and their performances “sexually oriented.” That’s a huge part of them being there.

While the women cheering at football games wear small, tight uniforms to accentuate their breasts, male NFL cheerleadersmany of whom are gay and would have no issue wearing tighter attire — have to wear baggy clothes, even (gulp) full pants.

This is all about female NFL cheerleaders sexually enticing straight men.

Will they be prosecuted in Texas the way some legislators are targeting Brigitte Bandit? I won’t hold my breath.

While some legislators try to stop drag queens from simply walking down the street in an LGBTQ Pride parade, not one of them has taken action against NFL cheerleaders — or cheerleaders from any other sport — gyrating in front of children.

It speaks to the nature of the attacks on drag, which ultimately have nothing to do with “protecting children” and everything to do with attacking LGBTQ people.

While “protecting children from being sexualized” has been the calling card for many of these self-proclaimed culture warriors, that has largely been a ruse, disguised to attack anyone who upsets the cisgender, heterosexual balance of society.

To be sure, some voices on both sides of the “aisle” have taken issue with NFL cheerleaders over the years. Nancy Armour has written about the problem with the objectification of women in football. Daily Wire’s Ben Shapiro has essentially agreed with her underlying premise that there’s an issue, though from a somewhat different perspective.

Yet there is no serious conversation — legislative or otherwise — about banning NFL cheerleaders.

Drag queens?

“Protect the children!”

Ultimately, courts will find in favor of people who want to dress in clothes that don’t match the traditional garb our society prescribes for them.

Yet we should still ask where is the outcry about female cheerleaders gyrating in front of children, when a drag queen reading Beatrix Potter draws protests and legislative action.

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