Elevate Difference

Pillow Fight League: Galapagos Match (1/20/07)

Pillow Fight League is more akin to roller derby than mud wrestling. Sure, there’s violence, but it’s pillow-related. And yes, there are scantily-clad females, but they’re of all different body types and genders, and their carefully-crafted characters and their costumes are the work of creativity and a tongue-in-cheek sense of humor. The result? Hotness.

Pillow Fight League isn’t staged, but it is theatre. The announcer, known as The Mouth, is a big guy who looks and sounds a bit like Penn of Penn and Teller. With the help of loud theme music, he introduces fighters like Betty Clock’er, Sarah Bellum, and Sister Resistor. And with the help of pillows, the women fight (one rule reads, “Loading a pillow with a foreign object such as a brick is strictly forbidden”) until one fighter is pinned or surrenders, or the referee stops the fight. They hit each other really hard. People actually get injured, though rarely. Hot pants and leotards ride up. Sailor hats and false vampire teeth go flying. The crowd goes wild.

The crowd – and what PFL does to keep the crowd – is one big reason why the whole shebang comes off as good clean fun and not the exploitative mess it could be. Largely heterosexual but queer-friendly, packed with women (some of whom volunteered jubilantly for “amateur” fights), the crowd looks more like the folks you’d see at an art opening than a boxing match. And PFL wants to keep it that way – these women don’t play at “adult” venues or sports bars.

However, PFL has some issues. With the announcer and main referee both men, and the judges largely male as well, one gets the uncomfortable impression that boys are controlling the game. And they are. While the PFL is largely women-driven, and was inspired by a pillow fight staged by a burlesque troupe, its “commissioners” are men. It’s girls-only because the commissioners have made the assumption that audiences wouldn’t want to see a boy-on-boy (or girl-on-boy) pillow fight. And – I saved the worst for last – their site is on the Beer.com Network, its logo at the bottom of every page of their site.

PFL needs new partners. Once you click on that link you get to see the much more overtly exploitative, sexist world that of which the PFL is unfortunately a part. And it’s a shame! Pillow Fight League: Hire a female commissioner, get some lady judges up there on that panel, and work with Bust Magazine or Babeland rather than Beer.com, and I’ll call you feminist-approved.

Written by: Ari Moore, February 25th 2007