Saturday, 25 April 2015

The Underlying Prejudice of Girls In Football: Women Are People Too

The Underlying Prejudice of Girls In Football: Women Are People Too

Many people in life don't understand how hard it can be to take a comment that you may label as "just a joke" or "harmless banter". For those of us who are okay with life and everyone in it, it is difficult to imagine such a situation. Why are you upset? It's only a bit of fun. You can never truly understand what it is like for the receiver until you are on the other end of it. As white middle class males, there's not really a lot that can bother us. Yes, there are instances where some of those minorities seem to get an unfair preference, but do your research and look at the reasons behind it. And for that one unfair advantage they have gained over a WASP, look at the advantage your entire life has had over theirs.

Now anyone can see I am not a woman. I am a straight white male from an educated and essentially middle class background. What right do I have to talk about prejudice? Whites in America don't truly understand the long lasting and lingering effects of institutionalised racism. Heterosexuals all over the place don't know what it is like to be stared at and jeered when walking with their loved one down the street, or to have your basic right as a human being to be with the one you love questioned and scrutinised. Men don't understand how much rubbish women have to put up with from the very day they are born, having their pathways predetermined by basic prejudices that stand in the way of their potential. Religious extremists don't understand how their fundamentalism destroys civilisations. As a straight, white, middle class male, how many people do you think have told me no? How many doors have been shut before I ever had a chance to open them? I can honestly do whatever I want.

Think of the people who suffer indirectly from the effects of a terminal illness. The husband, wife, kids, friends, other relatives. Think of their colleagues that they leave behind. Think of the nurses and doctors who see their horrible deterioration and have to put on a brave face every day as they see the dignity and humanity drain out of this person. We are all affected by it, in one way or another. So if someone upsets your mother, won't you be upset too? If someone lays a hand on your wife or girlfriend, won't you want to break it off and shove it down their throat? If someone insults your sister, won't you want to come to her rescue? If your best friend has an unpleasant boyfriend, won't you be wanting to protect her? So if we feel that way about individuals, why don't we feel it about women as a whole? Why do we react to these situations, but not to deep rooted and institutionalised sexism? This is my experience.

My girls. And very proud of them I am.
These are MY girls. Being part of a team means you love and care for one another no matter what. As a coach to a group much younger than me, it is hard not to feel paternal instincts. You develop relationships with your players. You take an interest in their life, and they in yours. When one of them is upset, you want to know why. Most coaches will have a care for their players that extends beyond football. It is like one big family. A player can find solace in their team. Shelter and protection from real life. So now, can you understand, when someone feels like that about their groups, how they can do anything but take it personally? When my teachers were horrible to me, my parents fought them. When I was bullied at school, my close friends were there with me. When I have had horrible break ups, my friends and family do all they can to comfort me. When I see the opportunities in football and in life limited for my players just because they are female, I am ready to fight. It is my job to encourage and support them. No one tells them they can't. These are MY girls.

See now?

People's perceptions shape their reactions and understanding of life, which then has knock on effects in other areas. We can plainly see that our society has not come as far as we may have originally thought, looking at the recent race riots in the United States, concerning the unarmed black men that have been killed by policemen. What I'm going to discuss here is some of the views still held in regards to women's football, and how this is greatly holding back their development.

A lot of people may try to explain it in terms of a Vicious Cycle, or a Catch 22. People aren't interested in women's football because it is not as good as men's, and therefore it won't get the same level of popularity and investment, and therefore it won't grow, and thus won't be as good as the men's game, and so won't receive investment, and so on and so forth. I think this is complete nonsense as women have long been discriminated against in society, and so this current issue is a manifestation from remnants of outdated ways of thinking. There's also the view that women will never be as good as men at football, because naturally they aren't physical enough. I'd like to show that this train of thought is complete rubbish, and one thing we can confirm with absolute certainty is that women have never been given the same chance.

So where does it all go wrong? As humans, we have an inherent sense of right and wrong. This is an evolutionary process that has enabled us to survive through a herd mentality. By sharing our food and protecting others, we have guaranteed the safety of our species. More complex ideas such as which party you vote for, which team you support, the type of music you listen to, are all determined by the events in your life, and the environment in which you are raised. Therefore, most, I would go as far as saying, the overwhelming majority, of our thoughts and feelings are not innate, and are therefore in fact, learned. Children try to make sense of the world around them, and they do that by imitation. They are fantastic at copying others, and thus will repeat the behaviours that they see. It doesn't take a genius to see the similarities between parents and their kids. Aggressive parents will raise aggressive kids, quiet parents will raise quiet kids, sporty parents will raise sporty kids. This is not an exact rule as there are always variations, but more often than not, the actions of the behaviours of the parents will have an overwhelming and huge influence on their kids, both positively and negatively.

A COED team, and we played in pink.
The WOMAN on the right has done a lot of good for football.
Another huge influence on the thoughts and feelings of kids is the society that they are raised in. The religion, the culture, the customs, all have everlasting effects on the children within them. There are still many societies, that although preach equality, we can see, are far, far from that. Some places actively promote racism, sexism, homophobia, and are even motivated to kill because of their views. What other people get up to, what they think, feel, want, and believe, is none of our business. The world is so focussed on trying to control and dictate to everyone else what they can and can't do. As long as it is not dangerous and does not threaten your health, live and let live. This kind of regimentation and the social constructs that come from it can be incredibly detrimental. Women have had to fight to get the vote, to be able to drive, to be able to be educated. In some places they are still denied these rights.

I'm hardly a feminist, but I believe pretty much anyone who believes in equality is a feminist. Just as much as I believe in rights for men, all religions, all races, sexual preference, and even what colour lightsaber you use, that's all down to you as an individual, and I hope whatever choices you make will fulfill your life and bring you happiness. There's no way that I will ever argue about changing certain words, like waiter and waitress, steward and stewardess etc. That's a waste of time, and is really arguing the toss. "It shouldn't matter if they are a man or a woman". It doesn't. You are making it matter by trying to say there are no differences between the genders. It's clear to see. The most obvious one is in regards to genitals. A man has an outty, and a woman has an inny.

If you were asked the simple question "Are you a racist?", your simple and quick response would come back as a negative. Even the people who are racist, who will justify their bigotry with "I'm not racist, but..." will tell you they are not racist. There is absolutely no way that I would actively discriminate against another person based on something so meaningless as the colour of their skin, and I believe most people would put themselves in the same box as me. What we will find though, if we scratch below the surface, is that we have deep set beliefs that we don't even know we have. If you were told that one of the following two people is a criminal, and were then shown a picture of a white man and a picture of a black man, most of us would naturally lean towards the black man. Replace the word with homeless, drug dealer, drug addict, and we'd still be leaning towards the black man. Start using words like CEO, business manager, entrepreneur, and we'd be going for the white man. Why? Well many of us when posed with this question, will begin to use the idea of crime statistics, and that blacks tend to populate the poorer and rougher areas. Both points are true. But does that change the fact that you just judged someone based on the colour of their skin?

Try taking the IAT test yourself.

What it tells us is that we have these preconceptions within us. Although not part of our natural hardwiring, like all our reflexes and all our innate actions we possess, due to our social constructs and everything that happens in the world around us, we are programmed to think like this. When in groups with other people that have similar programming, it can sometimes have a profound effect. The colour of your skin is worth nothing, yet we have constructed some kind of hierarchy based on race. Even people who are not racist, completely 100% not racist, can still have this kind of programming within them.

Good friends, even a girlfriend.
Above all, good players and a great team.
Take the above example and apply it to women. Similar tests have been conducted, We will associate words like career, work, and job, with men. We will associate words like family, home, and kitchen, with women. Housewives are still a perfectly normal thing, and if that works for the family, that is great. Again, we can look to the current state of affairs and point out that men have longer careers, and are in work longer, and are more likely to work for more periods throughout their life in more career type orientations, as opposed to working in supermarkets and child care. That in itself does not make us sexist, but the undercurrent of those implications will manifest itself into our decision making. If you tell someone to imagine a visit to the doctors, they will more than likely picture a man. If you talk to an interviewer and tell them to imagine the perfect candidate, depending on the vocation, they will most likely give you the answer that corresponds to a stereotype that is associated with that job. If I say chef, you think man. If I say cook, you think woman.

Any of you see the football at the weekend?
Every Sunday on Channel 5.

Now picture football. Twenty two men on the field. Refereed by a man. Men presenting live on TV, from a stadium filled with men. Does that sound like a sport for all? It seems like an exclusive club to me. The average football fan that watches games live in the stadium in England is a forty four year old white male. You look around, and all you see is middle aged white men. Male and pale. On television, we have started to see a lot more women on football shows, but they only do the presenting. No way will we see any of them actually commenting on the analysis of the game. Someone like Gabby Logan may have some preloaded questions given to her by the producer, but it is always the man that answers. Her job is just to frame discussion and illicit answers. What does she know about football? She's just a woman. This idea was best illustrated when Channel 5 had the Italian football, and they used Laura Esposto, a former topless model, to provide some insight into the games. Every week was the same, regardless of who was playing; "AC Milan win!". Thankfully there was Gabriel Marcotti there to actually provide some insight into the match, while mopping the sweat from his brow, and desperately shuffling for modesty on live television. Rarely would a shot go by in the studio where we couldn't see the tall, tanned Laura. She'd always be in the middle of the two men, just smiling at the camera. Women are there to be seen, but not heard.

It was only a few years ago that Match of the Day actually used a woman to provide the commentary on one of the featured games. It was Jacqui Oatley, covering the highlights of Fulham versus Blackburn Rovers. This sparked outrage. What is a woman doing on Match of the Day? That was her big break and she is now a well respected broadcaster. When all you're seeing and hearing is men, again, we feel like it is an exclusive club. The only way that women will be able to permeate that is if they are pleasing to the eye, or if they are the daughter of an ex football manager who knows someone at Sky Sports. With men in charge, holding all the cards, in control of everything, there is very little opportunity for women to break in. Look at the organisations of FIFA, the FA, and all the continental confederations. It's just like politics; rich, saggy, old men.

In 1990 during the Prague City Marathon, there was a runner who decided to complete it while juggling a football. As you could imagine, quite a difficult accomplishment. This meant they had to keep the ball off the ground for almost seven hours and twenty minutes. Could you imagine how much your legs would hurt following that? Picture this guy in your head, keeled over at the completion of the run, ball still bouncing, with a world record now set. Is anyone going to try this again? Will anyone beat it? It's a great achievement. But what does this guy look like? Were any of you picturing this guy as an Iranian woman? Probably not, but that's who did it.

Like A Girl. Should have done "Bring up irrelevant nonsense from old arguments years ago, like a girl".

Back to the IAT Test. I am in the majority of 48% who have an automatic strong preference for whites over blacks. Even half of black people who respond to the quiz will express a strong preference for whites. I am in the minority of 15% who express a moderate association for men when it comes to ideas of a career. Over a million people have taken these tests and very few express a preference for blacks or women. We're talking about five or six percent. Both these results could be hard evidence that I am sexist and racist. Is that actually the case though? I consider myself, and I hope those who know me will agree, to be an advocate of equality. I am completely capable of sharing a good racist or sexist joke, but we know, depending on the person telling them, whether they are done in jest or not.

Taking myself as the example, because I know myself better than anyone at all, I am going to try to explain these results. I was raised in a heavily white environment. Despite the United Kingdom being around 10% black, my town is much below the national average. My school was a private school, and apart from the odd Chinese or Indian kid, we were an overwhelmingly white majority. We just didn't encounter black people. For kids like me, our only experience of black people really came from music and sport. From the mid nineties onwards, a lot of our heroes back home were black players. Ian Wright particularly is a player that stands out in the memories, being perhaps one of the most passionate England players of his generation. During this upbringing, I never had any black friends. Since growing up and expanding my horizons, I have met and been friends with black people, but none of them have been in my core group of friends. I do however have a Chinese guy and a Bahraini amongst those I would refer to as my best friends, and my girlfriend is Mexican (even though I have darker skin than her from working outside all day).

Is it my fault that I came from this environment? Absolutely not. I was raised by two good people that have taught me to love, respect, and care for all human beings. But why do I have this preference for whites and men? I am a white man, but that doesn't seem to matter, as even women and blacks will still display this kind of preference. Our environments, the social interactions we have, and all of the information that we absorb as humans can alter and shape your perceptions on the world. This again is the programming that I mentioned earlier. In a snap judgement, without even thinking, we will display a racist or sexist preference. Given a second or two to think, another set of protocols take over, and we can act and think like rational human beings without prejudice.

Within ourselves, even those who would claim to be more liberal and understanding, completely free of bias, we will still display these thoughts if forced to react quickly. But what about when we actually have time to think about it? For a lot of people, they will still, and quite openly, display these prejudices and biases. If you come from a culture where it is normal for women to be subservient and play a secondary role in comparison to men, you will not think that you are sexist. If you deny your daughter from playing football on the grounds that she is a girl. that is completely rational where you come from. Have a look at these findings from my dissertation, conducted a few years back.

Question 8: If the women's professional game in this country was at the same standard as the men's game (in terms of ability) would you watch it and be passionate towards a team?
                       i.        Yes – I would also most likely have a favourite team
                      ii.        I would have a mild interest
                     iii.         I would not watch it

Analysis: The participants were asked if they would watch women’s football, if it were at the same standard as men’s football. 34% of respondents answered that they would not watch women’s football, even if the players possessed as much skill and ability as the male professionals. Only 24% said that they would have an interest and maybe even support a team, whereas 42% claim they might have a mild interest if the situation came into fruition.

 Chart 10: Watching Women’s Football

What chance do girls have when adults will outright state that they would not watch female football, even if it is of the same quality? Quality is the main aspect that people will cite when questioned as to why they will not watch woman play in the first place. If we remove quality, then everything else is superficial, and only second in importance to the game. The atmosphere? The history perhaps? Do people understand that there is no atmosphere and little history as a direct result of the quality lacking? And therefore, if we create good players and have good league for them to play in, won't that then create the atmosphere and the history as a direct byproduct as time progresses?

It is similar in many respects to people have have uttered the following sentiments; "I don't think the MLS is good", "The Europa League is boring", and "I don't watch foreign football". Football is football. What is it that draws you specifically to the football that you personally enjoy? Now if it is not quality, as we have determined that quality is unimportant, or else a large amount of us are just downright sexist, then what is it? Perhaps it is that male fans cannot identify with female players. If that were true, you wouldn't find young girls idolising Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, as these girls will never develop a man parts or facial hair. When I saw the US Women train, there were young boys there with Wambach and Morgan on their shirts. These women were their heroes. Is it wrong for a boy to look up to a woman? Is it wrong for a boy to aspire to be like a woman? This, again, is where we are getting mixed up, and creating a difference between football and women's football, so let me rephrase it. Is it wrong for a boy to admire and wish to emulate the skills and traits of a footballer that he values as a good player? If you play football, regardless of gender, you are a footballer. There's no more to it.

What a hit son! It may not have won, but to be nominated is still a huge achievement.

This goal from Stephanie Roche made it to the final of the FIFA Puskas Award. It's a truly fantastic goal, regardless of who scored it. If I scored a goal like that, I would never shut up about it. Read through the comments section on YouTube, and sadly, far too many people are labelling this goal as just a token nomination because she is a woman. They then go on to devalue the state of women's football, some even adding that if they were playing against such low quality opposition, they too would score a goal like this one. Please stop talking rubbish, and just admire the good goal. There's arguments for and against why this goal should win. I think Tim Cahill's volley was one of the best, and a personal favourite of mine would be Marco Fabian's goal, but mainly because I was there to see it in person. I think what detracts from Roche's goal is the poor pressure from the defender. Any coach would be screaming to get up behind her and prevent the turn, but then 100% of goals are scored because of a mistake somewhere. A game without defensive errors finishes 0-0. So for everyone that says "It's only the women's league", the point must be made that men have around ten times more everything. Participants, attendances, quality coaches, and investment, men will receive around ten times the amount women receive. So surely that makes this goal even more remarkable, right? The fact that she had nowhere near the same amount and quality of training that the best men did, yet is still being mentioned in the same breath as Robin van Persie and James Rodriguez?

It's very hard to relate to something you'll never be. I will never be black. I will never be female. I will never be Jewish. So does that mean these people can't be my role models? A lot of people can't identify with this. We all resort to type when looking for influences. We even begin to mimic them in some ways, from subtle to outright obvious, such as haircuts. As a defender, I will watch other defenders on the television to see what I can learn. Just because I am white, does that mean I can't learn from the biggest and the blackest of them all, Chris Samba? The colour of his skin is irrelevant. He is a good defender, and I want to be like him. There is only as much value in something as whatever value you place in it. So let's remember that the only thing that matters when looking for role models is the competency to successfully fulfil their task. Skin colour, gender, religion etc. do not matter.
We need to have a discussion about what is more annoying; this girl's voice or this girl's face?

Even in a country as forward thinking, open minded, and free of social prejudice like Mexico, we still find that women in football are struggling to be accepted.

Unfortunately, we make them matter. In an ever increasing world of vanity, where we begin to love the smell of our own farts quicker than they can produce enough selfie sticks so that we can binge on self-indulgence of taking one million pictures of ourselves, until we get it just right. So image now is huge. Bigger than it ever has been. A self-conscious young girl has not got many role models to aspire to be like in a sporting sense. In the United States they do, as a lot of USWNT players are household names. For the rest of the world, they are struggling to find their influencers. People are drawn to those that are just like them, and the image surrounding football can have undesirable effects. Young girls may see the male and pale crowds, as well as only ever highly trained professional males on TV, and may subconsciously think that it is some kind of exclusive club. She likes football, but obviously it was not meant for her. In such a seemingly harmless encounter, and a barely thought through decision making process, we have just lost a footballer. Where can we get more role models from? How can we expose them to young kids?

Take the big American sports, and you will see pumped up muscley guys high fiving each other, and competing to see who can be the biggest bro. What are the women doing? They are the cheerleaders. They do the fluffy and cute stuff where their performance is based on a TA grading scale (PM to understand that acronym). You can dance for us and wiggle around while we wait for the men to finish their Gatorade. So if we try and talk about equal opportunities in the major sports, let's have a look at the LFL - Lingerie Football League.

What do we notice here? Well they all have very fine TA credentials. It really is difficult to know where to start, so I'm just going to go for it. They are in bras and panties. They are literally playing in underwear. Who is going to be interested in this sport? Perverts. That blonde woman said she had absolutely no football background, so that immediately tells us the quality is going to be awful. So where's the hook? No one will be watching for the quality, but for the TA on display. Imagine taking any men's team and insisting they strip down and play in team coloured speedos with the team logo placed onto their bulge. Absolutely no one would stand for it. They did mention, in their defence, that women in other sports such as beach volleyball wear very little when they compete. That's because they're on a beach, and a bikini is seen as acceptable attire. Another thing is that volleyball is a non contact sport, and what do we see is missing here? For what is a supposedly violent sport, where are the helmets and pads? You would not be allowed to compete in the NFL without that equipment, so why are the women allowed to not wear it? Well obviously wearing a helmet would make them look more manly as it would obscure their pretty faces and long hair, making it very hard enjoy the view. It is grotesque that they are subjugated to this, though I hope they truly enjoy it, but let's be honest, who will be watching this for the athletic ability on show?

Even tennis is full of cameras trying to get a sneak up skirts. What are we learning from this? If you as a female want a place in sport, you have to be attractive, and will not be taken seriously. What kind of message is that sending to our young girls? What am I supposed to say to the girls in my team when they tell me that they want to be in professional sports? "Well you better hope more attractive or you have no chance". I mean just look at the video still above. Look at where her hand goes.

It puts me in a very difficult situation, coaching girls in Mexico, believing in them totally and having full passion for them, knowing that nothing will become of it. They have bleak sporting futures. For some, that is fine. It's just a bit of fun for them. For others, it is what they live and breathe to do. "Sorry girls, but at least I'll be okay, because I am a male!".

If it wasn't enough that girls are channelled away from it as they grow, let's take a good look at the development side of things. In most countries, the funding for boys and girls programmes is incredibly skewed. It gets worse as you get higher. If you are a top professional club, as much money as possible goes into your men's side as you look to compete and get more money. You're going to bring the best coaches in for your men, get the best facilities and resources for your boys' academy. That's your golden ticket. The next Cristiano Ronaldo could be worth hundreds of millions. The next Kelly Smith gets you some light hearted applause. Often when a club is faced with budget restraints, the first thing they cut is the women's team. In England, many are run as separate entities from the main body of the club. They get to keep the name and the badge, but have to use old kit, and must play on locally owned pitches. The boys always get priority over the girls.
Kirsty Gallacher, another woman taken seriously on TV.

With less investment comes worse facilities, it is seen as a lesser role by predominantly male coaches, so already the standard is dropping considerably. Then we throw in the poor recruitment, and how thoroughly less glamorous it is for girls, and we are not enticing enough young girls into the game. Add to that, the fact that most parents are discouraging their girls from even playing in the first place, and we're picking them up at eight, rather than three. Boys already have five years more development than girls, so they are already five years better. Less girls in the game, who are also lacking in ability, presents smaller talent pools. If a boy is good, he gets moved up a level to play against better competition. Often with girls, if they are good, there is nowhere to go, and they must still play with the bad players. That significantly stunts their growth, as they are being held back. It is tragic to watch.

I know many male coaches who would take on a girls team, but would be more enthusiastic about having a boys team. Although not often measurable, you see signs of less excitement, and the occasional bout of half-arsing it. Some even see it as an insult, or some form of disciplinary. So even within the profession, a dim view is taken. Due to the lack of development from a younger age as a result of all these factors, very few girls are on a level technically with boys of the same age. I have seen a handful in my coaching career. Coaches going into this will already know the standard is less than the boys of the same age, and so without it necessarily being sexism, perhaps we can understand why enthusiasm is lost? But good coaches want to do their part. Good coaches want to make a difference. Good coaches will not give up.
A New Hope - Helen Chamberlain

Look at it this way; your dad won't let you play, everyone else there is going to be a boy, your friends will laugh at you, your mum will be scared that you will turn into a lesbian, the coaches won't take you seriously, the majority of the players around you will be dreadful, and you don't really have a future in the game unless you are willing to cleave it up in the media. Why would any young girl want to get involved in that? But they still do. They still have the desire and the passion to play, and the love of the game. Just like me and you. So why do we give them such bad service?

When you start looking at teenage girls in football, there are many that are pathetic. This is a social construct as for them, their number one concern is getting boys to like them. They wear short shorts and tell all the boys how much they love football. This pisses off the other girls who are actually playing because they enjoy the game, and not because they are using it as a way to meet guys. We can look at the male equivalent of this too, which is boys playing simply because their mates are playing. If they don't pretend to like football, they are ostracised from the group. A lot of these kids are fat and support Manchester United. On a personal level, one of the most unattractive things about a woman is one who changes her team based on her boyfriend. 1. You're a doormat. 2. You should never change your allegiance. 3. You tried pulling the wool over my eyes in an attempt to make me value you more. 4. This says that someone who needs to do that can't offer very much in the form of personality as they attempt to invent attractive traits. We see it in all walks of life. People who pretend to like the game. People who feign interest in an attempt to generate interest. Desperate nobodies looking for acceptance. Sadly, often due to the lower talent pool, it is hard to separate these girls in an A team B team format, a Rec and Travel setup. Despite all having different motivations, they must all play in the same team as there is no incentive. That is very difficult to coach and to play in. In order for a team to be successful, you need a common goal. One girl wants to win the league and score lots of goals, the other wants to be fingered by the guy who has three hairs on his chin which he is claiming is a soul patch.

"They bring it on themselves".
"They only have themselves to blame".
"It's their own fault really".

Where have we heard that before?

These double standards manifest themselves in other areas of life. Have you ever looked at the women's section of a sports shop? Mostly pink, usually quite flattering to the body, leaving nothing to the imagination. Still, very little of what you would call real sports stuff. Where are the team jerseys? The men's section. Perhaps the defence of these retailers would say that it is supply and demand. What would it look like to an alien coming down to Earth?

"This is a sports shop, where humans buy their apparel and equipment."
"Are males and females of this species not allowed to play the same sports?"
"No, of course not. We believe in equality. Men and women can do what they want."
"So if they are allowed to play the same sport, why do their sections look completely different?"

This may be that Catch 22 thing again. I know there are women that definitely want it, but can they get it?
Show off your ever so slightly defined abs, make a pose that shows your hips and flat stomach, and pout. Also, we can tell that women of all ethnicities take part in sport (but we don't show REALLY black women, only tanned, as black women are not attractive). Make a fashion statement while at the gym, barely keeping that chest from bouncing as you stride purposefully on a slightly inclined treadmill. Or, if yoga is more your style, make sure to catch everyone's eye by revealing everything, as you don't sweat yourself to an easily achievable high level of fitness.
Did they find this girl outside JD sports? Those look more like pyjamas than any kind of tracksuit. If she weren't stick thin, she'd be quite cuddly. Obviously converse type trainers are exactly what you need for fitness. All the best athletes wear converse. This girl desperately needs a burger.

This woman is perhaps my favourite. We can't deny she is in good shape. Clearly she has to work hard to maintain that figure, but is that a sporting figure or a model's figure? Does she look like she's about to rip through a 10k or pump some iron? Or does she look more like she wants to read a nice romance novel by candlelight? I do wonder if her right leg is okay.

Chances are that none of them thought about the effect on the perceptions of women in sport when they put on those clothes for money. Does that make them like an anti-prostitute? Anyway, they look nothing like champion athletes. Good bodies, but not athletes. The skinny one needs a burger. Ironically, that's the kind of tracksuit you'd expect from someone working in McDonald's. But why don't they have athletic bodies if they are modelling sports clothing? We know that models are supposed to be what we want to see ourselves look like when we wear those clothes, or maybe what people are telling us we should look like, both in our dress and in our skin. What do real champion athletes look like? Muscles are unattractive on women. I'm not talking about Arnold Schwarzenegger muscles, though very few people find that attractive for both genders. What is it? Really, what is it? What is the issue here?

Women are very self conscious beings, and are constantly adapting to and trying to maintain their appearance and image based on a bunch of social norms. Defined muscles are deemed unattractive by society. The thing is though that men are also very self conscious, and also play up to standards of conformity in order to not be ostracised. At the end of the day, we all want to be accepted. One way to be accepted is to be the same. To further solidify that, we must also ridicule that which is different in order to strengthen the perceived norms that we all clamour to adhere to. If women are supposed to be in kitchens making sandwiches, and men are supposed to be dominant, there's no way a woman can be physically stronger than a man. A lot of a man's self efficacy comes from the way his woman looks. On average, if every person was given an attractive score out of ten, we find that couples are often with someone of similar attractiveness to them. A 6/10 will marry a 6/10 for example. How many times have you seen a fat older guy with a younger more attractive woman? That's money and power. But how many times have you seen the reverse? Susan Boyle with Brad Pitt. That never happens. Why do you think that is?

Here are some pictures of top female soccer players from the USA, England, and Canada.

Alex Morgan

Abby Wambach

Hope Solo

Christine Sinclair
They have multiple advertising deals and have become celebrities because of their success. Here, we seem them actually training. Competing physical tasks that require them to work hard and to sweat. Ewww. We don't want them to be all sweaty and smelly. Women are supposed to be prim and proper. How can we fap to this? They probably have cuts and bruises, and smelly feet. Definite bonerkill. It's rare that you will see women like these actually advertising sports apparel. Supposedly the average girl does not aspire to be like them, although Ellen may know someone who disagrees.

I really wish people wouldn't cheer ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING THAT IS EVER SAID. But look! This young girl has female athletes as heroes! Holy hamburgers! It must be the cancer affecting her brain, making her go against social constructs and be an individual that isn't a slave to the patriarchy. What a horrible disease this is. A normal girl should be aspiring to have the heartfelt talents of an inspiring goddess like Kim Kardashian. Honestly, if ever there was a more useless person in the entire history of the planet. With every selfie that woman takes, she undoes so much good work done by the women's rights movement. She is a poison. Kim Kardashian and her talentless family send out countless tweets, status updates, photos, and even have a TV series to demonstrate their vacuous and vain existences living off of undeserved fame. A lot of young girls sadly identify more with cleavage, fake tan, and pointless celebrities than they do with hard work, perseverance, and achieving your goals.

When it comes down to image, you've seen them at work, sweating, probably grunting. Now let's look at them with the clothes removed.

Abby Wambach

Alex Morgan
Sydney LeRoux
Hope Solo
Faye White

Are they unattractive? Absolutely not. They are in all sorts of photoshoots. Solo was even involved in the celebrity n00dz hacking scandal that stole so many naked pictures from their personal iCloud accounts. Jennifer Lawrence and many other high profile celebrities were in there. "But that's objectifying women and wah wah wah". David Beckham. His footballing career was long forgotten sometime around the late nineties. He still continued to play casually with a string of high profile clubs, raking in millions. Since he switched his attention to off field exploits, all anyone cared about was his clothes, his hair, his tattoos, his body, and his devastatingly talentless wife. That's all an invention of the magazines and the media. It is the choice of these women if they want to pose like this in magazines. Why shouldn't they?

Let's take a closer look at the bodies on display here between our athletes and our models. The models, I would describe as supple. Bluntly put it, they can bend into all sorts of wonderful positions, are very attractive, but aren't strong enough to fight back. Does that intimidate men? The athletes; lean, defined, toned. Even though Alex Morgan has a skinny frame, she looks super fit. Delving a little into the ideas of Freud, perhaps men keep batting women down because they don't want them to be rivals, or even to surpass them and become stronger. How small would your credibility look in front of your friends if your girlfriend could run a marathon and you struggle to finish a 10k? What if she could bench press as much or more than you? Your bros would certainly have a field day, parking the banter bus right on your front lawn, with all the appropriate tools for tearing you a new one. And just like that, we turn to ridicule and dismissal. We want a fit but bendy girlfriend. Adhere to that please.

Again, we go back to Ellen.

STOP CLAPPING AND WOOING YOU STUPID EASILY EXCITABLE AMERICANS. Holy Hell. If they put as much effort into over zealous displays of girl power through the medium of You Go Girl as they did into actually wronging these rights, then there would be no audience as these women would have actually gone out and got jobs. Gridiron football is a much tougher nut to crack than soccer. It's seen as the manliest of man sports, played by men. Us English see it is a padded version of rugby for pussies who have no aerobic fitness. "But there's injuries and brain damage and wah wah wah." Silly Americans. It happens to all sportsmen in all sports. A guy recently died in cricket after being hit by a ball. Soccer players have collapsed and died on the field. Think of Marc Vivien Foe and Fabrice Muamba. Look at the example of Fernando Alonso that is happening right now in F1. It's not your fault you live in a society that thrives on performing fellatio upon itself and thus your media controls your thoughts.

So you don't need to show cleavage for this kind of job?
Thanks Gabby.
All the butt slapping and high fiving serves to continue the idea that it is for men only. I know I am complaining a lot right now about soccer, but that's because I am living it and the sport is in my heart, but the NFL has some serious deep rooted issues that I can't see being solved for generations. Wearing pink shirts occasionally and pretending you care about breast cancer is not enough to be more inclusive to women, unless perhaps the front rows of seats are trained doctors that have x-ray glasses on, so they can give all the cheerleaders free mammograms while they are performing. How cheerleading actually still happens and is a supposed viable opportunity for young women to make a good career in 2015 is the biggest kick in the face to equality. Are you attractive? Can you bounce? Are you flexible? Perfect. Come and be stared at by 60,000 bros as they chug beer and yell encouraging slogans.

Where soccer managed to make an in road into the United States is through the women. About twenty years ago, the men were useless, but the women were good. Suddenly America is onto a winner, and the star spangled banner is sung, with the stars and stripes being waved and saluted by a nation that only accepts winners. If the USWNT was not as successful as they have been, soccer in general, including the USMNT and MLS would not be as good or as big as it is today. For years you would hear the notion "soccer is for girls", and yet now it is the most widely played youth sport in the country for both genders by miles. Soccer is for everyone, including gays, blacks, and women.

Banter is defined as "the playful and friendly exchange of teasing remarks". This is something that many groups of friends enjoy between themselves. Unfortunately in recent years, it is a word that is starting to become hated as many unpleasant men use it as a shield for their awful behaviour. "Calm down, it's only banter" is almost like the response, similar to the prelude of "no offence, but". The coverage of the incidents involving Malky Mackay and Richard Scudamore highlight this issue greatly. It is almost becoming a tolerated form of bullying. The people partaking in it compete for banter points between themselves. It becomes an exclusive group that has a shared sense of values, or at least the values of the group are determined by the bantersaurus rex, and are upheld by the stragglers on the outside, desperate to obtain the approval of their peers.

It becomes harmful stuff. The banter aimed at Eva Carneiro, the doctor at Chelsea just seems like bullying. When I am ripping on my friends, they have every chance of being able to do it back. We are equals, with trust and respect. There is no invisible school ground hierarchy that states some people are untouchable. There is however an unspoken set of rules, determining what's okay and what's not okay. With the right people, you can be vile and abusive to each other. Having that comfort with another human being is magical. This is on a very personal level, and there are lines you do not cross. It becomes bullying when the other person can't do it back. Perhaps they are intimidated. Perhaps there are too many opponents. Perhaps they are ripping on something you don't feel is okay for them to do so.

In the case of Eva Carneiro, where she is being told to expose herself, and asked if she enjoys unconventional fornication. have a look at who is doing it. Thousands of drunk men, all together, singing, none of whom she knows. That's verbal gang rape. She shouldn't be subjected to that while she tries to do her job. Can she say anything back? Definitely not. She is so outnumbered and so outgunned, it becomes abusive. She's not the only one. A white male in a position of power within a company may make a remark to a female colleague that he would describe as humourous. When she is upset, he can't see the problem. It was only a joke. It wasn't meant to offend. Consider that he is older than her, in a senior position to her, is in the large majority of males, and works in a male dominated industry where this kind of banter is accepted. How else is she supposed to feel? Ganged up on and victimised. This kind of stuff may have been happening for years, but in such an environment, who wrote these rules? If it has always been a male dominated industry, then the banter game is always being played by the rules of men. Women coming in have to either reluctantly accept this, or go elsewhere. Can she say something back to the boys? Would you? That's what makes it bullying. Suppose the two have been friends for years and frequently enjoy some back and forth, that's fine as they are doing it on equal terms. Far too often, the banter is not on equal terms, and those dishing it out from the superior positions, just can't understand the damage it does, and why those on the receiving end aren't enjoying it. When you're forever being told that women are bad at football by all the men within football, it no longer seems very banterific.

Quite clearly we can see, it's not a game for pussies.

Here's a link to a presentation I had to do for Ohio University: https://www.dropbox.com/s/lf9qb1unrb6f1zc/Wilson.assignment_M3.pptx?dl=0
The audio should work, but if it doesn't, the transcript can be found in the notes section. Based on a real life scenario that we find ourselves in, we have to come up with solutions to some social inequality issues. I based it on my girls team here in Mexico. After watching it, you'll be thinking "Hold on, why is this not being done?"

The term banter has lead to things like this happening. The link claims that the word has been made popular by the TV series The Inbetweeners. Although the four of them are likable to an extent, what people forget is that they are actually hapless idiots, and things go very wrong for them quite frequently for adhering to this type of thing. Even though the four of them often get into trouble for doing very stupid things, especially Jay, who is portrayed as a misogynistic liar, guys up and down the country will still mimic and celebrate their behaviour. The point of the show is to be funny, and it is, showing them as anti role models. They are likable, and funny things happen to them, but we don't want to be them. And then you see how everyone is acting like them. The Inbetweeners are not encouraging ladish behaviour, and we certainly had a nation full of idiots long before this show aired, I just think many people are missing the point.

In a world where most people are desperate for acceptance, and we all shuffle along to the tune of conformity, it is easy to see why these outdated views can change at glacial drift pace. Or why 90% or the work can happen in 10% of the time, but to squeeze out that last 10% of change will take 90% of your time, because there are too many idiots who just don't understand the impact of their actions. How about for all you soccer parents out there? How much can you relate to so far? Kids are obsessed with image and finding their identity. Some people never do, and so that constant search to find a personality is often filled with things like caring what others think about you. Too many fall into the trap of caring, and it has long lasting effects. Think of the mums who don't want their daughter to get into sports as she may be ridiculed for being manly. Think of the dads who fear of raising a tomboy. Scary thoughts.

Some people have these preconceptions about life, and as such, their programming, in the form of prejudice, has big impacts on those around them. If you, as a parent, think football is not for girls, already, before a cry has been whinged, or a nappy been filled with mushy baby turds, you have just denied your daughter a right. Based on the fact that she is a girl, you are not going to let her play. Grade A parenting right there. It reminds me of all the wonderful parents I knew from my school days. The pompous, the self righteous, and the self satisfied all graced the playground with their unwarranted sense of self importance, looking down their noses and casting aspersions. "My son is going to be a lawyer, don't you know". Sure, if the kid is in his twenties and final year of law school, we can clearly see he is going to be a lawyer. But when he is five years old, eating paint, and trying to stick his tongue into the electrical socket, laying out this forced path in front of him is not going to help. For all the doctors and lawyers we were supposed to become, we must be great disappointments. I remember my classmates, even when we only had single digits to our age, spouting all this rubbish about how they were going to earn a certain wage straight out of college, earning such and such a degree, from some high end institution. I'm not sure I even knew what university was, and I was definitely hoping it wouldn't interfere with playing football, playing PlayStation, and squirting my friends with water pistols. As an eight year old, that's what I wanted to do, not more reading and learning, that's boring. I still hold the same ambitions now.

Kill her!

The school system doesn't teach kids about happiness. They are taught how to pass standardised tests and achieve competency in some career they can't really be bothered with. The parents go along with this as it means maybe they will become rich and famous, or at the very least wealthy and respected. Does that equal happiness? If it does, perhaps you have taught your kids wrong in that they base their self efficacy either on their salary or the perceptions of them from others. They say that to find out what you want to do in life, you should write your own obituary, and state all the things you want people to say about you when you die. Mine reads like this:

"A calm and thoughtful man, William was part of a small group of people that managed to visit all five Disney resorts within his lifetime".

That's nothing about degrees, jobs, houses, cars. I want to visit all five Disneys. I have been to two. If we propose that I am about a third or a quarter through my life, the odds are looking favourable that I might achieve that. I am hoping to make it to two more by the time I am thirty. Is that a stupid ambition? Should a grown man really be thinking like that? Well here are the facts; I am twenty five and I do what I want. That's how we should all live our lives. Now stop telling your daughters what they can't do and forcing them into other areas that you deem acceptable, and start helping her find things she likes. You like tennis? Well here's a racket, let's find you a class. You want to go travelling? Well pick a spot on the map and we'll start saving. You think you like girls? Well bring her home so we can get to know the special person that makes our daughter so happy. Do it like that, and parenting becomes easy.

So many stresses in life are unnecessary and self inflicted. We really have ourselves to blame. Humans invent these social constructs and all these rules and protocols that really just take us further away from happiness, as we spend so much time avoiding or not being allowed to be the person we truly are. To further illustrate the point about how prejudices such as these are in fact learnt behaviours and are not innate, check out this video about kids and their thoughts on gay marriage.

Kids reacting to gay marriage. This compounds my earlier point about learnt morals. Kids do not know that girls cannot play football until we tell them they can't.

Amazing, right? Apart from that one kid, who can't justify his answer, like anti-vaxxers. Kids are conditioned to hold these beliefs. Homosexuality has been part of natural life since the dawn of time. Because it frightens and scares us, we shun it. It's like the kind of person who sees a tiny little harmless spider, and then starts bashing it with a shoe. It is irrational, as there is no justification for it. Have a look back at some parts of the Middle East. Women weren't always walking around in masks and capes like they are nowadays. Perhaps this is more due to the recent surge in popularity of superhero movies than it is of any deep-rooted sexism, but one can clearly see women in skirts, smiling, walking through Kabul only a few decades ago.. Obviously they are now in Hell being raped by Satan for their blatant enjoyment of basic freedoms.

The bald man below talks about how our kids are conditioned and manipulated through movies. Despite his lack of hair, he makes some good points that may surprise you. Think of what kind of values this imposes on our kids.

Okay, true, but I should be allowed to slap anyone who sings "Let It Go".

I'm just going to make the point, both the Hunger Games and Divergent feature small-framed women who, after no more than six weeks basic training, can use a whole range of weapons with acute precision, easily brush aside trained deadly fighters who are twice their size, and bring down whole empires. I know it is only a movie, and we must use our imagination at times, and we see this kind of thing even when using male protagonists. Going back to the earlier point of women in sport and women advertising sports clothing, we see a difference between models and athletes. The message I'm getting from these movies is that you can still be pretty and delicate, despite knowing how to fire a bow and arrow, flip a guy over your head, or take down an assailant with one punch. Sure, they got scars, but their hair looks nice still. What I'm saying is, they are not portraying realistic visions of warriors. I believe a woman is perfectly capable of kicking butt, just look at Captain Janeway. Take a look at Xena, Warrior Princess. She would destroy many enemies. But that is what a warrior looks like, not a slim, toned Jennifer Lawrence. If we start looking at Jedi or X-Men, sure, that's supernatural powers, and I find that far more believable than the previously mentioned movies.

Check these ladies out.

When given the right tools to succeed, anyone can reach the top, regardless of gender. Technical ability at the top level is practically the same. The thing which men have that defeats women here is depth. There are far more top level male players than there are female. Think of the top leagues in the top countries around the world. Depth. There are thousands upon thousands of highly talented male players in just about every country. For women, it is nowhere near the same. I don't know the exact figures, but I would be willing to guess it is closer than 100:1 than it is to 10:1. That's not to say that if we picked a male and female all-star team that the women's eleven would struggle. I think they would do well. It's that when we get outside that first team, the talent of the women starts to drop off very quickly. These women have succeeded in spite of all that holds them back. Imagine if we could lift these barriers, real or perceived, and increase the size and the potency of the female talent pool. It could rival the men's game, but won't any time soon.

Anyone remember these from 2010?
Very common for celebrities to pose nude
if their men achieve success.
We've come very far as a society.
What must female football players in
Paraguay think of this role model?
Why don't a lot more women stand up and do something about it? Many of them are conditioned from an early age to just accept it as normal. They are subservient and don't know any different. Some of them just feel it is useless, as the blame just gets lost somewhere in the system. Looking at the work of Dan Ariely, his studies suggest that people are more offended by things when they are direct. Let's provide an example. In a face to face interaction, such as a financial transaction between two people who know each other personally, if one tried to pull the wool over the other's eyes by ripping him off, such as adding extra fees and charges, an argument would break out there and then. Now if we have the interaction between a telephone or insurance company and the customer, the reaction changes. After receiving your standard bill, you notice many more extra charges. You are naturally upset. At this point, with no face, with no one to complain to personally, some have already decided it is not worth the fight. Many will call the helpline and have a go at someone over the phone. Let's say we now add more steps, dissolve the clarity of responsibility, and we start to not know who to feel angry at. It just becomes "that's the way it is", "things have always been this way". Anyone on the frontline is just shrugging their shoulders as their manager told them to do it. The manager blames the regional director. The regional director blames the investors. Now we're lost in a web of confusion, and there are two many steps between the offender and the victim, that although we know it is wrong, we become numb to it. That's how most people are.

The government does this kind of stuff all the time. Just look at slavery in the U.S. How many people said "It's bad, but it's not my fault", or "Well I know it's wrong, but there's nothing I can do about it". You go up to some guy in the street and start calling him a nigger and we're going to have a problem. Faceless senators and politicians start passing laws, society creates protocols, and local law enforcement maintains such an order, and then you just accept that you have to give your seat to a white person. Who can you fight? You don't know whose fault it is. Who can you complain to? They're all in on it. This is how it is for women in football. Men are making all the rules and all the decisions, and spend a lot of time justifying their actions. Most of these people have no experience of what it is actually like for the people they are supposed to govern, and will fail to see any importance in the issues. If someone goes to them with a problem that is inherently wrong, then they will remove themself from all blame, and point you in the direction of someone else. It seems almost futile, but it's how battles are won. If we want to change things, we have to go in where it hurts.

Now I know that I use and reference the work of Malcolm Gladwell a lot, but his observations are so astute, as are Dan Ariely's. Social order is actually such a stupid thing. In Blink, we learn about "listening with your eyes". The story goes that the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra had a prejudice about hiring women for parts. When auditioning on the stage, observations would be made, such as "How can she play with those things popping out her chest?" Obviously being feminine, she is naturally inferior, and cannot understand or appreciate the subtleties of music like a man can. She may be okay, but what's holding her back is the fact that she is not a man. We then learn that they had been making many such judgements, and were taking just about everything into account apart from the music. They then decided to have musicians audition from behind a screen, so they could not judge their physical appearance. And wouldn't you know? Suddenly, women started to get parts. One performance absolutely blew away the auditioners. Just recently they had turned that woman away, but now they didn't know she was a woman, and were in awe of her musical ability.

For giggles, let's compare the top level men to the top level women. Men's World Cup 2010 and Women's World Cup  2011 top ten goals. Ignore the ponytails, and enjoy the talent.

We can all remember where we were when Tshabalalalalabalalabbalala hit that goal against Mexico.

Look at the silly women, thinking they are footballers.
Some of us may dispute the order. Wambach's goal was good, but I don't believe number one.

I hope now that many of you will have a better understanding of just how deep this prejudice is. Let's all do our best to help young girls by removing our expectations of how they should look and act. Give them the same freedoms and encouragement that we give to boys. I know it is difficult, as many people are weak minded idiots, and will always revert to type, but let's help them. If a girl wants to be a footballer, take her to practice. If she wants to be prime minister, don't tell her that's a man's job. If she wants to be a doctor, don't try telling her that she is more suited to being a nurse. Give these girls encouragement, and we should all be helping them find what it is that makes them happy in life. Money does not necessarily mean happiness. Adhering to social norms and fitting in does not equate a healthy state of mind. Freedom, trust, confidence, joy etc. these are very easily attainable if we just stop believing in these silly rules and start giving girls the world.

For all those football snobs out there who only watch the Premier League, there are countless others who love the game in all its forms. "I only watch the Premier League. Foreign football is shit". These people have their heads firmly wedged up inside themselves, but for the rest of us, imagine if we unleashed the potential of women's football, and it was given the same funding, resources, time, and effort. Imagine if it could grow to the same size as men's football. That would be amazing. We'd have twice as much football to watch, participate in, and enjoy. How could that be a bad thing?

Throughout this piece I believe I have aggressively and crudely given you enough to think about. Can we now see that even the little things do add up? And that the odds are stacked way up against women? This piece was started about four months ago, and I have had to take breaks for important essay writing, and that work thing that I do in the day times. Not once in the last four had to endure a menstrual cycle, or had to sit down to pee. Life is already tough enough for young girls. Let's not make it worse by restricting them from playing the beautiful game.

No comments:

Post a Comment