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.

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Because Socialism is Never About Envy and Spite

It has long since past the time [sic] when aggressive redistribution of wealth were [sic] government policy.

So writes Guardian reader StevenMD, fuming on cue to a tale of sin and woe told by the paper’s Michele Hanson. Ms Hanson is upset because,

Manchester’s stunningly beautiful Victoria Baths… built in 1906 for thousands of ordinary people… [has been] closed since 1993. Manchester couldn’t afford to keep it open.

Oh cruel, unfeeling world. Where will all those ordinary Mancunians swim? Oh wait. It turns out that Manchester is hardly short of public swimming pools, having over twenty in fact, half of which offer free sessions for children and OAPs. Among them, the world-class Manchester Aquatics Centre, built for the 2002 Commonwealth Games.

Ah yes, but - but - Ms Hanson is also upset - and more upset - that someone who lives 200 miles away from Manchester has nicer things than she does:

On the edge of Hampstead Heath, north London, is one new, almost completed steel and glass house, costing squillions. Enormous silver chutes twirl down its outside, into this one family’s very own private basement pool.

Of all the things one might conceivably find scandalous and indecent, a house with an indoor pool is, I think it’s fair to say, not the most obvious. Ms Hanson is, however, determined to be outraged anyway:  

Shove your ostentatious wealth up our noses, why don’t you? The owners could probably save the Victoria Baths with their pocket money. Were I Empress of England, I would order them, and their show-off neighbours, to do so. Sadly, it won’t happen.

Despite the fact that confiscating other people’s earnings is the highest possible goal of all good-hearted people.

We aren’t told anything at all about the homeowners whose wealth so offends Ms Hanson and so animates her rage, though one doesn’t have to reach far to find the implication. Being no less pious than Ms Hanson herself, Guardian readers should assume that these ungodly types with their big house and heathen indoor swimming pool can’t have done anything, anything at all, to earn, deserve or justify their personal comforts, and they can’t have employed dozens of people, perhaps less wealthy people, to build the home that so infuriates our columnist. Indeed, there must be something wrong with the owners even to want such things. Unlike the loftier, more moral beings who seethe indignantly in the pages of the Guardian:

Last week, in a foaming temper, I was moaning on about it to another dog-walker, hoping, at least, that the super-rich were stuck at Freud’s anal stage and secretly miserable as sin. “Wrong,” says she. “I have a very wealthy friend. She lives in another world, which you can barely imagine. And she’s very happy indeed.”

Yes, Ms Hanson is hoping that all those awful people who earn more than she does are at least miserable. Piety, you see. The taste is a little bitter, I grant you, but you’ll soon get used to it. Judging by her closing comment, Ms Hanson certainly has:

You surely can’t trample people into the dirt forever. Eventually, they blow. Then the very wealthy friend will be not so happy. Can’t wait.

Ms Hanson is a socialist and therefore, like all socialists, is possessed of a big benevolent heart. That’s why she’s looking forward to misery being inflicted on people she knows nothing about, beyond the amenities of their home.

Via Julia

Elsewhere (84)

Chris Snowdon ponders fatness and what mustn’t be said about it: 

This week, lots of outraged people - mainly on the political left - got themselves in a tizzy when public health minister Anna Soubry pointed out that childhood obesity rates are disproportionately high amongst low income groups… Why the controversy? Soubry’s greatest crime was to not use the most politically correct language. She used the word poor instead of deprived or underprivileged. As Tam Fry of the National Obesity Forum said: “It was the tone of what she said. It was arrogant and condescending.” As for the facts, he conceded: “Yes it is true that the lower down the social scale you go the more likely people are to be obese.” On Twitter, big boned Labour MP Diane Abbott tried to whip up the mob. She reckons that pointing out the well-known association between poverty and obesity amounts to “blaming the victim.” This is the same Diane Abbott who wrote in 2011: “Studies about the predictors of obesity in the UK have shown that the poorest are most likely to be obese.” 

I don’t see fat people as “victims,” nor do I feel the need to “blame” anyone for something that is none of my business. Even if I did, the incomes of those involved would have nothing to do with it. Abbott, on the other hand, wants us to blame the food industry for making people like her grossly overweight. She won’t take responsibility for herself and she doesn’t expect anyone else to. As a state socialist, she holds institutions accountable for all human outcomes and believes that the only solutions lie in a more coercive government. Terrifyingly, this woman could be Britain’s next health minister.

Ms Abbott, a woman of substance in only the physical sense, is hardly alone in holding such ambitions. There are those, including writers of Observer editorials and Lancet contributor Professor Boyd Swinburn, who wish to save us from “passive overeating” by restricting our choices, including where we may eat, and by making food more expensive. The state, we’re told, must “intervene more directly.” Yes, we must be supervised by those who know better. Because you simply can’t be trusted when there’s pie nearby. 

David Mamet on gun laws in theory and practice (and much more besides):  

Healthy government, as that based upon our Constitution, is strife. It awakens anxiety, passion, fervour, and, indeed, hatred and chicanery, both in pursuit of private gain and of public good. Those who promise to relieve us of the burden through their personal or ideological excellence, those who claim to hold the Magic Beans, are simply confidence men. Their emergence is inevitable, and our individual opposition to and rejection of them, as they emerge, must be blunt and sure; if they are arrogant, wilful, duplicitous, or simply wrong, they must be replaced, else they will consolidate power, and use the treasury to buy votes, and deprive us of our liberties. It was to guard us against this inevitable decay of government that the Constitution was written. Its purpose was and is not to enthrone a Government superior to an imperfect and confused electorate, but to protect us from such a government.

And Jeff Goldstein on dreams of a disarmed citizenry:

As Ace rightly notes, “as the goal is admitted, let us have no more discussion of these ridiculous diversions.” It’s not your folding stocks or flash suppressors or bayonet lugs they’re after: it’s your ability to remind them that you are free people, and that their power is contingent on you. And would-be aristocrats grow weary of such presumptions from the riff raff, particularly those they imagine in a cabin somewhere eating possum stew off of the tits of their first cousins.

As always, feel free to share your own links and snippets in the comments. 

Elsewhere (68)

Daniel Hannan on patriotic feeling:  

The first few days of the Olympics have been accompanied by a clutch of articles about how British patriotism has been rehabilitated, the Union flag reclaimed and so forth. Really? Reclaimed from whom? Other than in the imagination of a tiny metropolitan elite, when was it ever ceded? […] Watching the women’s race at Hampton Court, we were caught in torrential rain. Among the spectators were dozens of orange-shirted Dutchmen, accompanied by a brass band, which played on impressively through the downpour. When the water eventually slackened, the Hollanders struck up Rule Britannia, delighting the natives: true patriots, of course, approve of the national pride of other peoples. The idea that loving your country means scorning someone else’s is downright silly.

Perhaps someone should tell Billy Bragg, who informed Guardian readers that “our imperial instincts” prevent us “relating to our neighbours as equals.” “The English,” wrote Bragg, “are in danger of becoming an insular people, jealously guarding the right to make our own laws.” Mr Bragg - who once told listeners of Radio 4 that he had “learned all of his politics from pop music” - went on to claim that English sports fans dislike their national teams losing because of a “hangover from an imperial past.” More prosaic explanations were not entertained. 

Greg Lukianoff on campus speech codes and uncritical thinking:

I’m trying to make the point that, after 11 years of looking at college censorship, this is starting to have a negative effect on the way our country talks with itself. I think it harms our ability and inclination to debate if the one institution that’s supposed to be making us deeper, more honest, harder thinkers is actually saying “And if you disagree, kind of shut up.” 

When it comes to discipline, apparently schools need racial quotas. I kid you not: 

The state’s board of education established a policy demanding that each racial or ethnic group receive roughly proportional levels of school penalties, regardless of the behaviour by members of each group… “What this means is that whites and Asians will get suspended for things that blacks don’t get suspended for.” 

See also Heather Mac Donald, who shares some striking statistics:

The homicide rate among males between the ages of 14 and 17 is nearly ten times higher for blacks than for whites and Hispanics combined. Such data make no impact on the Obama administration and its orbiting advocates, who apparently believe that the lack of self-control and socialisation that results in this disproportionate criminal violence does not manifest itself in classroom comportment as well.

And Nick Gillespie on Dallas and the downfall of Romanian communism

Dallas was the last Western show allowed during the nightmarish 1980s because President Nicolae Ceausescu thought it showcased all that was wrong with capitalism. In fact, the show provided a luxuriant alternative to a communism that was forcing people to wait more than a decade to buy the most rattletrap communist-produced cars… After the dictator and his wife were shot on Christmas Eve 1989, the pilot episode of Dallas - with a previously censored sex scene spliced back in - was one of the first foreign shows broadcast on liberated Romanian TV.

The Guild of Evil recently started watching some reruns of Dallas, ironically at first. Now the mix of schemes, shoulder pads and ginormous hair is a regular treat. And I’ll thank you not to judge me. 

As always, feel free to add your own. 

Reheated (17)

For newcomers, three more items from the archives.

I’m Other, Subsidise Me.

Omar Kholeif is professionally ethnic and terribly oppressed. Though by what he doesn’t say.

Mr Kholeif doesn’t mention any first-hand experience of vocational or artistic exclusion based on ethnicity, or any similar experience had by anyone known to him, which seems an odd omission as it might have made his argument a little more convincing. In fact, the only discernible obstacles he mentions are the limited market value of his chosen skills and the preferences of his own parents.

It Pays To Be Unobvious.

When clarity is “conservative” and evidence is unhip.

Occasionally, Judith Butler’s politics are aired relatively free of question-begging jargon, thus revealing her radicalism to the lower, uninitiated castes. As, for instance, at a 2006 UC Berkeley “Teach-In Against America’s Wars,” during which the professor claimed that it’s “extremely important” to “understand” Hamas and Hizballah as “social movements that are progressive, that are on the Left, that are part of a global Left” and so, by implication, deserving of support. Readers may find it odd that students are being encouraged to express solidarity with totalitarian terrorist movements that set booby traps in schools and boast of using children as human shields, and whose stated goals include the Islamic “conquest” of the free world, the “obliteration” of Israel and the annihilation of the Jewish people. However, such statements achieve a facsimile of sense if one understands that the object is to be both politically radical and morally unobvious.

At Last, Socialist Football.

Some kids play better than others. This simply will not do.

Note that “an opportunity to play” doesn’t seem to entail playing as well as you can. And I’m not quite clear how penalising competence squares with the professed ideals of sportsmanship. However, there is some encouraging news. The handbook helpfully urges talented teams to avoid the risk of forfeiture by “reducing the number of players on the field” and “kicking with the weaker foot.”

Take a big stick to the greatest hits.

2010 Reheated

In which we revisit imaginary evils, ludicrous solutions and various lamentations from the pages of the Guardian.


In January, Kevin McKenna inadvertently revealed the loveliness behind his lofty socialist principles:  

Ponder the big, generous heart behind those sentiments. It offends Mr McKenna that private education should be allowed to exist. By McKenna’s reckoning, parents who view the comprehensive system as inadequate – perhaps because of their own first-hand experiences – are by implication wicked. And so they should be stopped.


February brought us the deep, deep thinking of the New Economics Foundation and their blueprint for a socialist utopia:  

The NEF are convinced that, once implemented, their recommendations would “heal the rifts in a divided Britain” and leave the population “satisfied.” That’s satisfied with less of course, and the authors make clear their disdain for the “dispensable accoutrements of middle-class life,” including “cars, holidays, electronic equipment and multiple items of clothing.”

February also brought us urban oil painting, delusional playwrights and communist art reviews.


In March, we got a taste of, if not for, the cosmetic surgery aesthetic. And an advocate of “direct action” got a taste of her own medicine and didn’t like it one bit.


April saw Jonathan Kay recounting his visit to a Thinking About Whiteness workshop, where he was told “racism is an outgrowth of capitalism” and that “to ignore race is to be more racist than to acknowledge race.” 

Ah, very clever. Guilt in all directions. It almost sounds like a trap. And the way to get past small differences in physiology is to continually fixate on small differences in physiology.

And Eyjafjallajökull did some rumbling


In May, Professor Sharra Vostral exposed the humble tampon as an “artefact of control.”

At this point, readers may also wonder how it can be that an estimated 98% of humanities scholarship goes uncited or unread.

And a mighty hail fell on Oklahoma City.

Continue reading "2010 Reheated" »


The images were taken via satellite and they show the rather oddly shaped football pitches that seem to be built wherever possible – the desire for playing the game has clearly surpassed and ignored the limitations of natural topography and FIFA’s laws of the game. According to the official rules, you would not be allowed to play football on any of these fields. However, the careers of many of the world’s best football players began on these very same fields despite their askew anglesodd proportionsmisshapen border lines and pitch markings.

From Joachim Schmid’s book O Campo: Brazilian Football Fields. Via Anna.