The NFL’s recent decision to allow fans to bring only approved clear bags or small purses into stadiums has been met with mixed reviews from female fans of the Baltimore Ravens and other teams.
Some feel the new rule is a necessary annoyance in the wake of the Boston Marathon Bombings and other recent events.
“As long as men don’t mind seeing my tampons and stuff in my clear bag, then that’s fine,” said Jackie Taylor of Pasadena. “While yes it’s inconvenient, it’s better to be safe than sorry.”
Others think the policy compromises privacy and is too restrictive on the amount of space women have to store their belongings. Many also feel it was set into action by an organization largely dominated by men.
“(It’s) ridiculous, an invasion of my privacy,” said Robin Diehl of Baltimore. “There’s enough crime without the criminals seeing what you are carrying. Not only that, I have spent (too much) money on Ravens bags and pocketbooks to let them sit home to use plastic.”
NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said the policy was put in place in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing to increase safety while also helping fans get into stadiums faster by cutting time spent inspecting bags.
“It’s a small inconvenience for some that will protect millions,” he said. “We’ve only heard from a small handful of fans that have had an issue. Once they experience the policy and understood why we were doing it, they’re complying and we haven’t had issues overall.”
But the bag policy has become a national topic. It even spawned a Twitter campaign, #mypursemychoice, which itself came from a satirical YouTube video created by New Orleans writers and comedians Lauren LaBorde and Colleen Allerton.
“I was just expecting it to be big locally,” said LaBorde. “Women are just as much (New Orleans) Saints fans as men are, so the issue was very much in the air. By the end of the day when it went live, it was getting national recognition. It was a complete shock to both of us.”
LaBorde said that when attending a regular season Saints game, she was told she could not bring in the same bag she was allowed to have with her during a preseason contest. She was instructed to hide it in a bush and put her belongings in a plastic bag.
“Women have to carry more stuff and that regulation doesn’t acknowledge it,” she said.
The rule struck a nerve with freelance writer and Philadelphia Eagles fan Sarah Maiellano when her tickets to a Washington Redskins game could not fit in her NFL-regulation purse. She tweeted a photo of the purse, which caused enough backlash to prompt her to write an article for Salon titled “The NFL’s ban on purses is sexist.”
“I think it’s an admirable thing that they set out to do, but it’s really arbitrary,” she said. “I would liken it to taking shoes off at an airport. We make these arbitrary rules to make people feel comfortable and I just don’t think it’s effective.”
Maiellano said in her article that the bag policy was voted into existence last spring by the NFL’s Committee on Stadium Security, which consists of seven men and one woman.
“I think that a lot of policies that come out of private organizations like the NFL are made from groups of men,” she said. “Because there are no women there, they aren’t taking the needs of women into account.”
LaBorde agrees: “It seems like they need to get women’s input more. Talk to women more because you’re missing out on a demographic of people who support you.”
Sandy Coho of Baltimore attended the last two Ravens home games and said though she has no problems with the bag policy, she wishes it would be enforced better.
“The stadium personnel let ladies in with regular handbags,” she said. “Some of us went out of our way to find clear bags and abide by the new rules. If the rule is going into effect, there should no exceptions – all or none.”
The Ravens have a large female fan base, as evidenced by the more than 32,000 followers of the all-female Ravens fans Facebook page Purple Ladies.
“We have posed this question to our fans a few times,” said Purple Ladies co-founder and administrator Leighanne Caralle. “It is a 50-50 love-hate reaction to the new NFL bag policy.
According to the NFL, 35 percent of its game attendees are women. And more women watch regular season NFL games than they do for the NBA or Major League Baseball, according to a 2011 Nielsen report.
The policy has some women questioning whether they want to remain fans of the sport they have grown to love.
“It just seems like they are targeting women hoping that they will just stay home so that the guys get all of the fun,” said Tammy Jacobson of Dundalk. “If the NFL keeps enforcing these overbearing restrictions, they will end up ruining the game that millions of people enjoy.”