This Just In
One for the Diary

The Crushing Patriarchy, Sporting Edition

Silvia Murray Wakefield, a “London-based feminist and mother of two,” is unhappy about a certain ongoing sporting event. Yes, that one. And so, naturally, she asks:

Is it anti-feminist to watch the World Cup?

Then the sorrow unfolds:

Still warm and fuzzy from the joy of the Olympics two years ago, I hanker to join an emotional ride with fellow spectators again, but the World Cup is different, as is the Tour de France. There’s no Jessica Ennis or Victoria Pendleton to aspire to or root for because these events include male competitors only.

Apparently conflicted about cheering on members of the opposite sex, this hitherto-neglected detail puts Ms Murray Wakefield in a quandary. 

Men’s football is loved in Britain simply because the players are men… Even the fact the men’s World Cup is not explicitly stated to be a men’s competition erases women.

Yes, dear readers. All of womanhood is being erased by a sporting event that happens once every four years.

So do we women sideline ourselves by boycotting the games or do we take up space and holler along because it is fun and exciting?

Clearly, it’s an issue fraught with political agonising.

You could argue that the FIFA World Cup is also ageist and disablist (footballers are doomed to retire as soon as their wisdom teeth fully descend and disabled people are tacitly excluded).

And so it turns out that the World Cup is not only patriarchal and sexist but also ageist and disablist. So much exclusion, it takes the breath away. It’s not so much a sport, then, as an avalanche of bigotry and sin. Though, curiously, no such concerns are aimed at the young and able-bodied ladies who’ll be taking part in the Women’s World Cup in Canada, an event mentioned pointedly, three times, in the same article. Or indeed at the Olympics, an event that two years on leaves our Guardianista feeling “warm and fuzzy,” and in which male and female athletes compete separately.

After many mental tangents, including prostitution and human trafficking, our fretful feminist takes a bold position.

Instead of boycotting football, the presence of women is key to breaking the uninterrupted circle of sexism.

And then offers some handy tips for doing precisely that:

Don’t compromise “ladette-style” by joining in with cries of “gawaan my saaaahn!” at your local, but practice calling out “get in there, girl!” – for the sheer subversive amusement if nothing else… In fact, wherever there is men’s football, just keep talking about women’s football until everyone around you sees this man-focused football for the weird anachronism that it is.

Ah, so nagging. Someone should warn The Patriarchy. It doesn’t stand a chance.