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Sexism and Sports

BY: Jade Azim | Category: Women | Submitted: 2012-07-29 22:35:52
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Article Summary: "Where society DOES define us. It is because social constructs have made you believe these women have no place in your sports, even if they ARE not as physically strong..."


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"Women's football is ridiculously boring."

"Women's football is just...slow."

"Women just don't have the passion"

"Have you ever seen a woman in the England squad? Exactly."

Yes, that last one was a legitimate comment I received on twitter, after defending the Team GB vs Team NZ women's football match on 26th July that many male users had degraded.

They accused me of 'generalisation' when I told them that the comments they made were sexist, and that most men who said these comments were saying those, intentionally or subconsciously, because of sexist social 'values' that have laid the foundation of traditional and very much outdated gender roles.

They made two key arguments;
"No, I just find it crap. It's like when girls don't like men's football."
And "Come on, men have more raw talent because they are biologically stronger."

First, I must dispel the former.
This is not reflective of when 'girls' (derogatory, much?) dislike men's football. For one, it says a lot that 'men's football' is not actually named as such, but women's is. Secondly, many women dislike football, and other mainstream sports because their values, too, are the product of gender roles. They have grew up in a world where, while their brother's play with a ball, they must play with a doll. So, generally, it is because they have been raised to dislike the sport, not those who play it, that they dislike this so-called men's football. 'Internalised sexism'.
Men, on the other hand, often do like the sport, they just don't like it when women play.
Why? Well apparently, usually, because of that second argument.

Since when, sir, did 'raw talent' equate to physical strength? A lot of skill in football derives from footwork, not muscle power. While it does involve stamina, that is something women also, surprise surprise, excel in in sports such as Marathon running.

So men, you may believe it is because women are physically inferior, which is in some contexts slightly agreeable, or that you simply don't like their style. This is simply a preference of sportsmanship, right?

No, none of the above. It is because social constructs have made you believe these women have no place in your sports, even if they ARE not as physically strong.

It is subconscious bigotry rooted in flawed education. And it is unintentional bigotry that makes society's views so dangerous and problematic. We are unaware that we are the obstacles to progression.

Now let me refer back to some of the comments I received on twitter;

"Women don't have the passion for football"
Yes, that's because they are told they should not have that passion, because it doesn't fit their gender role. If the exact idea quoted above was erased, more women would get involved in football. Next.

"Have you ever seen a woman in the England squad? Exactly."
My jaw dropped to the floor at this point.
Did this tweeter not realise that he had validated my point? He must have presumed that it was because women were worse at football that they had not made it to the squad.

Actually, it's the exact contrary. It is the belief, cemented by hundreds of years of prejudice, that women are worse at these 'talents'. That is why they are not in the squad, or very rarely feature in any mainstream sport, because they are not given the chance. They are excluded in our supposedly 'inclusive' society, in a society that supposedly embraces 'equality of opportunity'. This is not just a class struggle, it intersects on gender and its role in sport, too.

And until both men and women (and those that identify as neither) who spectate sports, or even slightly acknowledge their existence, open their eyes to this subconscious sexism based on prejudice, this inequality in sport is unlikely to fade.

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