I woke up this morning wondering whether I was a megalomaniac arsehole.
And as I demanded family members make me brews and bacon butties, and revelled in the sheer majesty of my own reflection, I concluded thusly:
“No, Goddess. No you’re not.”
I’d been worried because I’d fallen out with some people as a consequence of a few on-line episodes involving misogyny and complicity. Which seems a ridiculous thing to get wound up about. Unless you’re an intelligent woman, in touch with culture and society, and have spent more than 45 seconds online.
You see, I didn’t particularly want to be an online feminist. I just wanted to bore the arse off people with pictures of my dinner and have a few digs at Coldplay like everyone else. But the problem is, I like football.
I like football, and I also like… and call me Mrs Picky… earning the same as men for the same job, feeling safe if I get pissed, not being judged on a different moral compass purely on account of the vagina, not being statistically more likely to be raped, or killed/ battered by a partner and the list goes on.
So where to start…? Ok, here:
Football and Feminism are not incompatible. Far from it.
From 1885 when working class people had successfully fought for the sport to allow professional participants, right up until the late 1900’s when a variety of factors changed the game beyond recognition – working class males were the imperfect audience for football.
Which brings us the combination of factors that have changed the landscape of modern football, to which many of us object. A grotesque mostly deliberate/ part accidental culmination of the formulation of the Premier League, an expensive television rights bidding war and the Taylor Report which resulted in all seater- stadia that led, in conjunction with new money in the game, to huge corporate areas and a focus on families (rich families) planted a seed in football which has led to the entire sport becoming a massive pile of corporate steaming shite that bears little resemblance to football past.
I’ve shorthanded there. Fuck it.
The very worst thing that modern football has done, however is to create a generation of real dickheads who “love” the sport.
These people are often from places like Shropshire or Surrey, and so have been shielded from the effects that football has had on big cities. They started liking football in the 1990s and are ignorant of the inherent politics that underpins football historically.
No sense of pride or value, they instead trawl the internet and use forums to espouse a caricature of manliness that they have been fed since around 1992 from FHM and those other shithouse publications. It’s a new version of misogyny that is directly entrenched in the values of modern football.
New media doesn’t help. The online football fans represent a very tiny minority of those who actually regularly go and watch live football, and very few people I know personally who have a season ticket have any online presence whatsoever.
Which means that a lot of the people we see on the internet participating in this modern football “banter” disease, subjugating women, targeting specific women and then hounding them in groups, tweeting disgusting shite to famous people, mocking tragedies etc… They should be considered victims.
They are victims of modern football, in much the same way others are.
I am regularly engaging with knobheads on the internet about what constitutes Rape Culture. Rape Culture is the prevailing sense that misogyny at a small group level, if not confronted, is connected to rape.
Those older, working class football fans who have a sense of understanding about struggle and a political perspective get it. Of course they do.
You’d have to be dense as all FRIG not to understand that when mates don’t say to their mates… ‘What you’re saying there is wrong” this leaves the misogynist under the impression that they have social approval.
That’s what Rape Culture is and I apologise for patronising those of you with basic intellect for spelling it out so crudely.
You look at long-term football attendees who are a couple of generations older and they make off-colour jokes, they buy Viz, they have the craic… but there is no fucking way they’d participate in calling women a slut in groups. Online, or anywhere else.
No one I know – not even from rough as arseholes areas of Manchester – no one I know who is over 35 is a) gonna participate in bullying women at the football or b) allow other groups of men to do it.
In terms of football; it’s a new thing.
Every week new footballers are being charged with sexual assault. The focus is aimed at women who are drinking more, because of ladette culture (another media construct – guess which gender and class own the fucking media, fuckos?), not on the fact that these young kids are all over the fucking internet espousing views they’ve directly inherited from this shitehawk modern football, lad culture.
Because football has become so corporate, it’s no surprise that we see the trend for violence in sport being reflected in corporate capitalist America. We saw it recently in the Steubenville Rape case. A very insidious, new media-led misogyny serving to make women the focus of what is clearly a male problem.
Even Richard Keys – the poisonous little gnome – trying to ingratiate himself with the much younger Jamie Redknapp using the infamous “Would you smash it?” The visible look of disdain on Jamie’s face as he tried to hold onto his dinner, under his skinny tie.
George Lineker on twitter every day speaking about women like they are pieces of shite, meanwhile his father – the most prolific football presenter in the country – never publicly bollocks him.
Like I said, those people entrenched in football-fan misogyny are victims. They are victims of modern football, and in a very real sense, victims in life. They live for a football, the roots of which they are not in touch with, God love ‘em. Plus they’re mostly witless.
The real problem I have is with those people who are complicit. This is why I get narked. You expect people who express themselves as socialists, or as intelligent or compassionate to have the balls to stand up to their mates.
But we live and learn.
For the record, if you see a woman being abused by a man in the street it is always best to intervene if you feel able. Equally, if you’re maintaining friendships with people who bully women and you’re aware of it, you’re complicit in that bullying.
I will use this opportunity to say that I am fully aware that misogyny is not limited to football – modern or otherwise – and that footballers and fans have treated women badly prior to 1992. What I refer to here is a very specific sort of woman-hating that is directly linked to football within the last 20 years or so.
On a final note, I am fucking devastated Gandolfini is dead. He was the sort of guy that these new-age misogynists look up to, and would have as a picture on their social network account. Without even thinking for one fucking minute that this hero of theirs would never -in a million yearssss – been caught spending hours on football forums bullying women in order to solicit the approval of other men.