These are a small sliver of the comments I’ve either had sent to me or have seen written about women’s football over the 15 years I’ve written about the game. Some are misogynist, some are homophobic, some are plain weird, others are violent and one or two are accidentally rather funny.
“You’re only saying you like it (women’s football) so you can get off with lasses.”
“Are you literally sucking c*ck while you watch it?”
“You are literally ramming women down my throat.”
“Another column from a Feminazi lacky in panties.”
“I won’t watch it because I don’t waste my time on anything that is not an elite product.”
“All I can think of is are they on the rag and will it show?”
“I just can’t stop looking at the player’s arses. It is too distracting.”
“I’m not sexist, my wife hates women’s football too.”
“Who are these women who like football? I’ve literally never met a woman who likes football.”
“It’s just for the gays.”
“Men are better than women. That is just a fact.”
“You have to be joking (about enjoying women’s football) I wouldn’t even rape those dogs.”
“They’re not proper girls. There’s something wrong with them to even want to play a man’s game.”
“Have you actually seen some of those ugly bitches? I’d rather fu*k a man.”
“The blonde one. I’d f*ck her until she stopped breathing. I wouldn’t let the rest suck my dick.”
“Women’s football is for dykes and dogs.”
“They look f*cking ridiculous. I wouldn’t let any woman of mine out the house to play football.”
“It’s just total dog sh*t. Worse than kids football.”
“They literally can’t even run. Embarrassing.”
“Have you seen them trying to kick the ball? It’s pathetic.”
“You can pretend it’s good but you’re lying. It is sh*t.”
“I can’t watch football of such a low standard.”
“People will watch any old sh*t (On TV) if it’s free.”
“(in response to the excellent viewing figures) Sod off with this shite. Big f-ing deal. What u expect from BBC1 all their PC advertising?”
Clearly, this is skimming the surface, but the important thing to know about these comments is that all but three of them are anything up to 15 years old. Attitudes have changed – or perhaps some men just feel they can’t say such things anymore. Either way, the abuse has decreased in volume and ferocity and it seems to have got much better in recent times. But even so, you can still go to the comments beneath many pieces about the World Cup and see similar words if they are not moderated. There are certainly still men who are paranoid that women’s football is being over-vaunted and over-rated and is being pushed at them as part of some politically correct liberal conspiracy.
But to those people, a message: we don’t care if you can’t find it in yourself to appreciate the World Cup. We don’t care if you can’t see what a tremendous move it was for England’s goal against Argentina, nor that you couldn’t drum up the positive emotion to punch the air and appreciate the joy on Jodie Taylor’s face as she converted Beth Mead’s perfectly weighted cross. None of us who like it, care that you don’t like it. You don’t have to like it and no-one is telling you that you do.
But even so, it clearly really bothers you and that’s how we end up with comments like those above. Because this is all about you, isn’t it? It’s not about those of us who write about it or watch it, it’s not about the players, not about the tournament, not about the BBC, not about the excellent viewing figures. No. It’s about you and your psychological needs, your psychological needs to publicly rebuke, decry, debase and disparage, not footballers, but women. These are words of frightened and intimidated people who seem confused and worried.
Last week, Georgie Bingham said this in response to some of this bad attitude on Twitter:
This is every day. Every single fucking day. Not all men but lots and lots of sad twats who appear to have no aspirations for their daughters and no proper respect for their sisters, wives or mothers. Utterly threatened by women. Embarrassing isn’t it.
— Georgie Bingham (@georgiebingham) June 12, 2019
Look, we get it. You are carrying on a tradition of putting women down which is as old as time. Always happy to dish out brickbats but perversely oversensitive to criticism. But this is a new day and these are the first rays of the new rising sun, and your old ways are in the shadow of its brilliance.
These abusive attitudes seem very old now, very not 2019. Even though they exist in the here and now, they sound like the distant echo of voices from the past and have never had less power. A more fair, equal world must look so scary to these people.
Women’s football is still an evolving sport after half a century of being outlawed. It has always had to fight bigotry and I dare say it always will given the nature of some men. But this is such a positive time; a real celebration of football. Sometimes dramatic, sometimes thrilling, sometimes good, sometimes not so good, sometimes rank boring; just like football always is and always was and always will be. That’s why we love it. And while there may still be some dark clouds in the sky, the weather is set fair for the future.
As someone wiser than me once said about a different kind of revolution, ‘it’s been a long time coming, it’s gonna be a long time gone’.
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