03/08/2014

Women's Football Isn't Real Football

Today, with 130 caps, Fara Williams became the most capped English football in our country's history.

Let me repeat, Fara Williams became the most capped English footballer in our country's history.

She has earned more caps for England, out of every female and male footballer, in our country's history.

The central midfielder for Women's Super League club Liverpool Ladies, who was homeless for six years during the early stages of her football career, has achieved something millions can only dream of.

But in this patriarchal society, the probability of earning such an achievement without attracting misogynistic vitriol, or chauvinistic condescension, or ignorant sexism is rather low.

As the official England twitter account broadcast the news, the responses varied from immense support and congratulations, to cries that 'women's football is shit'.

The claims that women's football is 'shit' might not be considered very offensive - they are claims made by the neanderthals of our game, and can be easily dismissed with the knowledge that Fara Williams would inevitably 'own' the person making the claims, if she were to take them on in a game of football.

However, there was one comment which hit a nerve for me. This comment said: "Surely you mean in "women's football history", to leave it as just "England's" is massively disrespectful to real football."

Of course, how silly of me to think that Fara Williams plays real football! Forgive me for my lack of reason - I understand now that Williams, alongside the previous record holder for the most caps, Rachel Yankey, have spent their careers playing a game of fairy football, an imaginary game of football, where the football is not real, where the goals, and the saves, and the clearances, and the volleys, and the corners, and the throw ins are all a complete figment of my womanly imagination.

What the man who made this comment meant, was that this was massively disrespectful to MEN'S football. What he meant, was that it was disrespectful for a woman, a body capable of all the same things his own is capable of, to be crowned the most capped English footballer in history.

What he meant by 'disrespectful', was that a woman being graced with the highest of footballing honours, was threatening. Threatening to the boys club of football.

How dare she? How dare a woman, regardless of how good a footballer she is, get above herself by accepting such a prestigious honour. One that should be saved only for the 'real' footballers. The 'male' footballers.

Women's football and men's football do have differences. Women and men have differences. However, the essence of football remains exactly the same, no matter who plays it.

If a group of five year old boys are playing football in a park, by the rules of first to three goals wins, are they also disrespecting 'real' football?

When the England blind football team play matches, are they disrespecting 'real' football?

I'm sure the individual who made the initial comment would be prepared with answers confirming that, no, the England blind football team are not disrespecting 'real' football because of their disabilities, and no, the five year old boys are not disrespecting 'real' football because of their youth and innocence.

Yet, for some reason, the presence of a vagina on a body, and that body earning the title of most capped English football player, is a disrespect to 'real' football.

'Real' football, that is played with a football, and two goal posts, and generally 22 players, and where the aim is to score a goal while the opposition try to stop this from happening. 'Real' football, where fans watch in awe at the sheer technical skill and ability of those before them, not stopping to think of the reproductive organs their body is home to.

'Real' football, that can be played by any person, at any time, at any location. Except for women apparently.
Yes, the reputation of women's football is increasing, yes, there is more TV air time for women's football than in previous years, yes, people are giving it more time of day.

But is sexism in football decreasing at an appropriate rate for the year 2014? No. No it is not. In the past year we have been subjected to Tam Cowan's vitriolic misogyny which the Daily Record so happily spouted, before passing it off as banter.

We have seen Richard Scudamore walk away from the sending and receiving of misogynistic emails with his job still in tact, despite our countries Prime Minister saying a member of his cabinet would not have survived if guilty of the same prejudice.

We have seen televised World Cup matches focusing on women in the crowds, and objectifying them, before turning the laptop on to see articles of the 20 'sexiest football fans at the World Cup'.

We saw only one female journalist from a national newspaper being sent to cover the World Cup, one that confirmed that she had no interest in football.

We have seen Women In Football conduct a groundbreaking survey into sexism within the industry, which revealed that two thirds of women working within the game had experienced sexism in the work place.

Finally, we have seen an inspirational footballer break the record for the most caps in English football history, and have her achievement branded disrespectful to 'real' football.

So do not patronise women in football by saying that sexism doesn't exist, that we're making a fuss over nothing, to calm down dear. Because sexism in football does exist, and while it may be decreasing, and while new precedents may be being set, it is far, far from over.

16 comments:

  1. I agree, but 'our country's history' assuming that you are talking in the singular with reference to England amd not many 'countries'.

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    1. Thanks for pointing that out! Silly mistake of mine! Appreciate it.

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  2. You've written all this because some guy who you didn't care to name tweeted a stupid thing. Not helping the feminists' image at all.

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  3. No - I wrote this because sexism in football is a huge problem, and what that man said is a view shared by many people.

    Feminists don't have an "image" - image is what they are trying to fight against.

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  4. Oh go on, post a link to that tweet - I could do with a good night's trolling.

    Frankly, the only statistic that surprises my here is that a third of women in football *haven't* experienced sexism in the workplace! Football is still ruled by the "old boys club" and is incredibly corrupt, sexist, homophobic and racist. The FA likes to think of itself as enlightened, but that's only compared to other nations' associations, and that's not setting the bar particularly high. The sooner we can rid FIFA of Blatter and his cronies, the better, but there's not exactly a white knight standing in the wings.

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  5. I wouldn't say that women's football isn't 'real' football, it's more that it's a different sport altogether. The matches are played at a slower tempo and there seems to be less physicality involved - I don't mean that condescendingly, or to be insulting. That's just inevitable with the way women are built.
    I'm not ashamed to say that I would be unhappy if Fara Williams gained the title of Most Capped English Footballer, because she's working at a different skill level.
    Whenever I make this point, a supporter of women's football says: "I'd like to see you play against her, and see how you like it" which seems a childish argument to me.
    Admittedly I, personally, would get outperformed by a female footballer, but I can still chose not to support the sport, or think of it in the same way as men's, because I'd rather spend my time watching a better standard of football.
    More to the point, if you truly believe that women's football should be considered in the same bracket as men's football, then why don't you arrange a match between a women's and a men's team?

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  6. You don't get this differentiation between men's and women's in most other sports though. No one says women's Tennis isn't a real sport, or women's Hockey is a lower standard than men's, just because women and men are built differently. People also don’t generally suggest that a female athlete should compete against her male counterpart in order for her sport to be considered ‘in the same bracket’.

    Yes, the women’s game differs slightly to the men’s in that as a rule women are shorter, smaller and less physical than men BUT this does not mean that the women’s game should be treated as different or lesser in any way.

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    1. @Amy I think there is a differentiation: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lists_of_tennis_records_and_statistics there's statistics for the best male tennis players, and the best female tennis players. What's wrong with that in football?
      I think if you want to watch and enjoy women's football, I'm not against that, but because a woman would never compete against a man at professional football, women's football is a different sport.

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  7. Great blog! I look forward to reading more.

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  8. Do you watch much Women's football, Miss Adams? I do, and its incomparable to men. But lets play along.

    The women's game doesn't currently have the strength in depth as the more established men's system. That is mostly down to the FA being ancient in their attitudes and banning women from playing for decades. The development of the game is VERY MUCH still ongoing, Women's football is finding its feet.

    Looking at the most capped english players they are far and away out of the leading lights of the top cap earners globally. The current leader is on 352 (an American). It would be impossible for a man to earn that many caps. If an England International was to hold 352 caps, they would have had to have started their career in 1983 on the Australia tour. The men's game is stronger and your worth can go down very quickly, meaning there is always somebody coming up to take your place, managers change, you simply don't play that many games etc. Fara Williams may have earn't 130 caps, or is about to, but when female footballers can earn over 300 caps its not fair to put her at the top of a pile in comparison. The two games simply do not sit side by side.

    I celebrate Fara as a wonderful example of longevity in English Women's football. And I hope she continues, but it probably says two things, women play a lot more internationals due to development of the game, and because of the lack of good players coming along these players will stick around longer at the top. Partially that is due to Hope Powell who held the Women's game back for years with her inability to embrace youth, and reliance on older players whilst other nations were blooding youngsters. Mark Sampson saw through that immediately and has embraced the up and coming stars - he's getting great performances and results.

    The women's game is progressing well, its not there yet, but thanks to a lot of good results, a positive approach and the teams self financing (rather than being community play things for men's clubs to access funding pots) its doing well as its own entity.

    Will we see you at Cardiff for the England game Anna? Its a big game for England, a point and we qualify.

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  9. Today Women's are not back in sports and creating there separate mark in different sports as well.

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  10. Women's football. Another vehicle for feminists to whine about inequality.

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  11. Who really gives a stuff about women playing men's games? I'd rather watch the grass grow.
    Boxing, Rugby, Football in fact anything to make a fast buck and fill tv schedules with absolute garbage attempts to imitate the way games should be played.
    Next it will be mixed teams lol (perhaps they haven't considered that one)god forbid.

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  12. forgot to mention in my earlier post,
    Q.
    what do you get if you come home from work and the wife is sat in the lounge watching women's football on TV
    A . A shorter chain to the sink!

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  13. http://www.sportingnews.com/football/news/australia-womens-national-team-matildas-thrashed-by-newcastle-jets-under-15-boys/10frsb95bfutb1gppiiojuc5qm

    An international women's team beaten 7-0 by a bunch of schoolboys, and you're acting as though these women are sporting giants equal with the men? This is why people laugh at feminists such as yourself, you're utterly delusional. Women are not good at football and you can't expect to receive the same attention and pay for an activity when you're nowhere near as good, generate nowhere near as much revenue, or have anywhere near as many ticket sales. Grow up.

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