Terrace Bint - Feminising Football?

Terrace Bint - Feminising Football?

An article from the first and only edition of Terrace Bint, a football fanzine with great politics and great laughs, which I thought I'd share with y'all. The whole issue (December '08) is available in PDF format here.

Disclaimer: While I still recommend the fanzine, I no longer stand by this particular article as the author uses misogynistic language and strawmen in order to express her rightful exasperation at football's gentrification. See the comments made by Evie and Rebelde.

Women are becoming more numerous and visible at football and are finally starting to get our voices and opinions heard. But unfortunately, it seems that those who receive the most exposure tend to be those who talk the least sense… Terrace Bint rants again.

One of the reasons I started this zine/blog is because I find most attempts to provide a female oriented approach to football either patronisingly vacuous or tear inducingly worthy and boring. Generally accepted female narratives on football usually fall into one of two categories, the “Oh isn’t footie ace, I love it, I’m always down the pub watching the game with my scarf on trying to impress the boys with my new knowledge gleaned that day from the back pages of The Sun” or the “Football is a serious matter and we women are just as capable of unnecessarily intellectualising it and infusing it with pathetically weak liberalism as men are.” It’s enough to turn the hardiest purveyor of football feminism into a paid up member of NWAF…. Well, almost.

The first approach is characterised by women who love watching “the match” down “the boozer” with “the lads”, swigging alco-pops or weak lager while wearing excruciatingly naff T-shirts with slogans like “Footy Bird!” “Fancy scoring with me?” Or something about balls. Cheeky eh? Their love of “footie” is usually a recent innovation, more often than not coinciding with the breeding and incubation period for most nauseating new-football mongs; a major tournament featuring England. Buoyed by tabloid hype, plastic nationalism and the number of “fit footie loving blokes” they spotted in All Bar One when games were on, they bought some mini car flags, a bit of face paint and an image of football created by the Sky TV marketing department in 1993 and now bang on to everyone in sight about their love of the “beautiful game” (particularly to young men who bear a bit of a resemblance to Ashley Cole and drive flashy two seater cars.) This approach is commonly known by the name of one of its first and most prolific proponents; Zoe Ball Syndrome.

But these creatures, annoying as they are, can usually be easily ignored. Yeah they do your head in, but they’re generally harmless. They give off a bad impression of what a female football fan is but anyone with the slightest bit of sense sees this and doesn’t take them any more seriously than they take their interest in the game.

Not so in the case of the second chief example of female footballing fuckwittery, the self righteous pseudo intellectual who has managed to convince both themselves and those around them that they have a true knowledge of football and are in it for “all the right reasons”. Their trademark is the bizarre paradox of banging on about how football is a traditional working class sport tainted by modern day moneymaking, while on the other hand despising every-thing that is working class and traditional about it. Particularly those awful fans with their sexist and racist chants (ok they’ve got a point there…) and penchant for alcohol and mindless violence. These stupid interfering self important bitches make my blood boil like no other character in the football stereotype pantheon. Clueless stuck up wannabe journos (a vast percentage of them already are, spouting their inane shite in all sorts of predictable places), and often politicians, with a fabricated view of how football once was gleaned from pictures and BBC footage of smiling crowds of children and men with flat caps and large moustaches and a desire to make football, OUR football, adhere to their sanitised faux-egalitarian New Labour vision. The most nauseating thing is that they genuinely believe that they are genuine football fans. They’ve been supporting a team for, ooh around 10 years now, their newfound enthusiasm for the game only being outshone by their desire to completely ruin it for everyone else. Now that overt racism has been more or less eradicated from stadiums, thanks largely to fan activism within the grounds themselves and partially by the cringeworthily mawkish official campaigns led by the FA and other governing bodies, these self proclaimed saviours of football have turned their attention to sexism within the game. But of course they haven’t taken up the cause of average matchgoing female football fans and what would make our experiences better – because for all their posturing these women wouldn’t be seen dead mixing it with the rough-necks in the stands – but instead focus their attention on shit that most of us really don’t care about and that we actually find not all that bothersome, like swearing and mentioning of “tits” in songs, and players spitting and being bad role models for poor impressionable young children. But supposedly we should all be grateful to these visionaries who are trying to feminise the game on our behalf and make it a happier, brighter, more inclusive sport we can all enjoy, hand in hand, without pointless macho violence, rivalry, on-pitch dissent, drama, excitement…

How fucking patronising do you want to be? Their lack of engagement with actual football fans, and exposure only to the opinions of the ones they meet in the office or in the press box or hear on pisspoor radio phone ins, has led to this false idea that what we need to eradicate sexism in football is to eradicate all the ghastly macho behaviour and terribly rude chants we are subjected to in stadiums, to make the stadiums themselves cleaner and prettier and more attractive to the ladies, with nice toilets and a good selection of half time refreshments, with comfortable seats we can sit in to watch the match and stewards to make sure those awful drunken men don’t stand up and obstruct our view. Apparently the subsequent new atmosphere will make football a more attractive place for women.

Lord give me fucking strength. Where to begin?! Offensive chanting, moody atmospheres, screaming abuse at players, officials and rival fans alike, standing throughout the game, over the top goal celebrations resulting in injury, widespread drunkenness and general ballooning; these are some of the main things that I have loved about following football throughout my life. And I’m a woman. Why the FUCK would I want to change any of that? Because some women who have recently got into football might potentially find it unpleasant and offensive?

Do you know what I find unpleasant and offensive? Clue; it’s not football songs which mention shagging a bucket with a big hole in it. It’s this idea that women are humourless, overly sensitive, and unable to handle themselves in the rough and tumble world of following football. The idea that women can’t handle football as it currently stands and need some sort of cleaned up, sanitised version of it. How fucking patronising is that?

The Dutch penchant for liberalism and tolerance brings out the best in their football supporting youth...

There is no doubting that some things in football stadiums need to change. All too often at matches women experience some seriously out of order discrimination and harassment that should never, ever have to be tolerated. Certain sections of our support get excluded from some aspects of following teams; older people and those with some physical difficulties who can’t fight their way through large and sometimes violent crowds to get into grounds, particularly at aways, and who can’t stand up for long periods of time shouldn’t be made to feel they can’t come to matches, especially as in most cases these people have been coming for decades and deserve to watch the team they’ve given so much time and energy to in relative comfort in their older years. Similar arguments apply for those with kids who want to bring them to the match in the same way their parents brought them years before. They need to be guaranteed a certain amount of comfort, safety and access to facilities. (Comfort and safety DOES NOT mean, however, sheltering kids from rude words in football songs. No child has EVER been permanently damaged by hearing the words “Sad Geordie bastard and a shite football team” at a young age so spare me the recycled child psychology.)

Pathetic attempts to change the game by people who actually know fuck all about its everyday reality helps no one. Positive change can only be achieved by fans themselves identifying the changes they want to see and striving to put them into place with support from their own fan communities. Self organisation and empowering fans to take control for themselves is the way to eradicate the social problems that affect us. That’s something that can’t be achieved from atop a moral high-ground or a column in The Guardian.

Carly.

Comments

Rebelde
Mar 5 2012 12:27

This article is full of misogynistic invectives and straw man arguments. And apparently authentically "working-class" culture is inherently racist and sexist? And these uppity women should just accept it and quit being so sensitive, or something? Thanks for my daily dose of patriarchy LibCom.

wojtek
Mar 5 2012 15:31

Could you elaborate on your first sentence please, what invectives and strawmen?

Nowhere in that piece does the author say that football culture is inherently racist and sexist or that women should accept it, in fact she explicitly does the opposite and calls for self-organisation among fans to stamp it out where it arises (see the last two paragraphs).

Anyone who scowls at swearing or standing up at games is definitely being too sensitive. Now I'm tempted to include minor hooliganism (away from vulnerable people/ the ground obvs.) in that, but that's a discussion for another day.

Edited grammar.

flaneur
Mar 5 2012 14:34
wojtek wrote:
Now I'm tempted to include minor hooliganism (away from vulnerable people/ the ground obvs.)

Like that Doug Stanhope bit about the troops. 2 mins in.

Ed
Mar 5 2012 14:50

Yeah, rebelde, I think those are unfair comments.. I mean, she frequently attacks sexism at football grounds and even says that it was fan action that did the most to tackle racism in football.. the only bit where I think you could have gotten the idea that she thinks racism and sexism is an inherent part of working class culture is this bit:

Quote:
Their trademark is the bizarre paradox of banging on about how football is a traditional working class sport tainted by modern day moneymaking, while on the other hand despising every-thing that is working class and traditional about it. Particularly those awful fans with their sexist and racist chants (ok they’ve got a point there…) and penchant for alcohol and mindless violence.

..which, when read in context, is more about how this sentiment isn't really genuine, but just hot-air from "wannabe journos" and "politicians". If anything, even the "they're got a point there" seems to imply she thinks racism and sexism are problems at football grounds..

Also, when she talks about racism and sexism again, she says:

Quote:
Now that overt racism has been more or less eradicated from stadiums, thanks largely to fan activism within the grounds themselves [...] these self proclaimed saviours of football have turned their attention to sexism within the game. But of course they haven’t taken up the cause of average matchgoing female football fans and what would make our experiences better – because for all their posturing these women wouldn’t be seen dead mixing it with the rough-necks in the stands – but instead focus their attention on shit that most of us really don’t care about and that we actually find not all that bothersome

So yeah, I definitely don't think she's saying that the "uppity women should just accept [sexism] and quit being so sensitive".. I think she's attacking those who would try to 'clean up' football in the name of protecting female football fans (but without actually ever talking to any)..

As wojtek points out, in the last two paragraphs, she also says:

Quote:
There is no doubting that some things in football stadiums need to change. All too often at matches women experience some seriously out of order discrimination and harassment that should never, ever have to be tolerated [...]
Pathetic attempts to change the game by people who actually know fuck all about its everyday reality helps no one. Positive change can only be achieved by fans themselves identifying the changes they want to see and striving to put them into place with support from their own fan communities. Self organisation and empowering fans to take control for themselves is the way to eradicate the social problems that affect us. That’s something that can’t be achieved from atop a moral high-ground or a column in The Guardian.
Ed
Mar 5 2012 16:04

Also, been going through their blog and read this in their manifesto:

Quote:
So what does it contain? Good question. A lot of ranting, a bit of moaning, plenty of crap jokes, and an attempt to address some of the issues that girls and women who go to football, to discuss ideas and share stories and hear our own realities represented. Because that generally doesn’t happen in most football fanzines. When women write about football they are generally expected to do serious pieces to demonstrate they deserve to be taken seriously. But they’re written from a certain viewpoint of what “serious” is. This fanzine aims, amongst other things, to give women and girls the chance to write about what they personally find important or interesting without worrying about the “NWAF[No Women At Football], fuck off to Marie Claire” brigade getting on their case.
[...]
we aren’t arsed about potential backlash from the NWAF crew, we aren’t arsed if it’s ridiculed, ignored or dismissed as the hormonal ramblings of a bunch of uppity whiney probably hairy legged man hating etc etc bitches who should stop going to the football and get back in the fucking kitchen rather than moaning about things that don’t concern them.

Also, from the Our Inspirations bit:

Quote:
FEMINISM
Constantly belittled by those who fear it. Constantly a source of strength for those who attempt to live it.
[...]
ANARCHISM
Again constantly discredited by those who fear it’s power and don’t understand it’s true nature. Autonomy, self determination and social justice, not just black hoodies and Rage Against The Machine CDS.

But yeah, these quotes don't invalidate rebelde's comments above, maybe there is a discussion to be had about bits of it.. but yeah, I like this blog.. smile

Crow
Mar 5 2012 16:40
Rebelde wrote:
This article is full of misogynistic invectives and straw man arguments. And apparently authentically "working-class" culture is inherently racist and sexist? And these uppity women should just accept it and quit being so sensitive, or something? Thanks for my daily dose of patriarchy LibCom.

QFT. What a shit piece. I'm not even sure what she was trying to argue. Something about Zoe Ball being a slut and the WORKING CLASS RIGHT to be able to get drunk and shout abuse at other human beings based on arbitrary identities and community membership? Not forgetting the pressing issue of protecting children from swears and spittle, cos it never did me any harm, quite apart from the fact that she can't go one paragraph without fucking or shitting all over the place. Macho nonsense.

The swears make it authentic prole though, so I guess that's why it got posted here. Oh, and she said something about self-organising at the end.

Nothing wrong with getting angry and letting off some steam, even if it reads as if it were all written in capslock. But she seems to be getting angry about all the wrong things (like Zoe Ball, Kick it Out, and clean seats) rather than anything remotely interesting or revolutionary.

wojtek
Mar 5 2012 17:26
Quote:
Crow wrote:
shout abuse at other human beings based on arbitrary identities and community membership?

Do you even like football?

Crow
Mar 5 2012 17:33
Quote:
The first approach is characterised by women who love watching “the match” down “the boozer” with “the lads”, swigging alco-pops or weak lager while wearing excruciatingly naff T-shirts with slogans like “Footy Bird!” “Fancy scoring with me?” Or something about balls. Cheeky eh? Their love of “footie” is usually a recent innovation, more often than not coinciding with the breeding and incubation period for most nauseating new-football mongs; a major tournament featuring England. Buoyed by tabloid hype, plastic nationalism and the number of “fit footie loving blokes” they spotted in All Bar One when games were on, they bought some mini car flags, a bit of face paint and an image of football created by the Sky TV marketing department in 1993 and now bang on to everyone in sight about their love of the “beautiful game” (particularly to young men who bear a bit of a resemblance to Ashley Cole and drive flashy two seater cars.) This approach is commonly known by the name of one of its first and most prolific proponents; Zoe Ball Syndrome.

But these creatures, annoying as they are, can usually be easily ignored.

This is a disgusting paragraph, meant in jest or otherwise. Also, mong?

Quote:
Offensive chanting, moody atmospheres, screaming abuse at players, officials and rival fans alike

This is macho.

The language is macho, and the arguments are macho (I'm hard because I stand up with the drunk men in the 'rough and tumble' of the terraces even if they do sing about tits and chant other equally offensive things the entire time).

Crow
Mar 5 2012 17:36

No, you're right, I don't. My arguments are therefore irrelevant. Please continue posting these insightful articles. This one really opened my eyes to how nefarious BBC pundits oppress the rights of women to be boorish drunks.

wojtek
Mar 5 2012 18:16

I never implied your opinion was invalid, I just asked you a simple question. If you don't like football though, can you honestly say you recognise the first set of people (or second for that matter) described in the article? If you don't, then I don't think you're in a particularly strong position to say whether they're mildly irritating or not, which imo they are.

Other than the misogynistic chants (I can't remember the last time I heard one during a game btw), I really don't think you have a leg to stand on.

Quote:
Offensive chanting, moody atmospheres, screaming abuse at players, officials and rival fans alike

Sure it's macho, but it's what makes football football. Perhaps it's not the sport for you...

Edit:

Quote:
Crow wrote:
The language is macho

Cos women are too dainty to swear/ handle swearing??

Serge Forward
Mar 5 2012 19:17

I had a quick skim through it and quite liked it. A couple of misses here and there but mostly on target.

Crow wrote:
No, you're right, I don't. My arguments are therefore irrelevant. Please continue posting these insightful articles. This one really opened my eyes to how nefarious BBC pundits oppress the rights of women to be boorish drunks.

The point is, Crow, if you know nothing about football, then you are really talking from a position of ignorance as you won't get many of the references and any irony will most likely be completely lost on you.

Crow
Mar 5 2012 21:18
Quote:
The point is, Crow, if you know nothing about football, then you are really talking from a position of ignorance as you won't get many of the references and any irony will most likely be completely lost on you.

I don't agree. Perhaps I missed some of the subtlety and sophistication, but I don't think I need a football qualification to point out blatant misogyny in a piece on an anarchist site. I've been to a few matches and seen it on telly, if that makes any difference. Hell, I could even explain the offside rule if pushed. Perhaps only women should be discussing this article as men would be talking from a position of ignorance?

Ad hominems aside, the language, style and tone used is macho, and if anyone from the right or a trot spoke about women as the second para does, you'd be all over it, or at least some of you would.

Quote:
Cos women are too dainty to swear/ handle swearing??

It isn't about male/female, its about aggressive and macho. Using 'fuckwit', 'mong', and 'bitches' in my mind isn't acceptable whatever the author's gender, and the entire tone of the article is aggressive. The article talks about breaking stereotypes of female fans but imho just strays into another one.

Crow
Mar 5 2012 22:41
revol68 wrote:
Though no doubt that post was "macho", so hey no need to engage with the points or for that matter those of the writer of this article's.

What was your point? That it's acceptable to use bitch, mong and other hostile epithets to spice up our revolutionary writing, cos you and your mates do it all the time? And that it's OK to swear all over an article to make up for its serious argumentative and observational shortcomings (see Zoe Ball para) and give it some faux-authenticity or relevance?

And what was the article's point? Who was it for? The only thing I can see is a general outrage at New Labour and the Guardian, and a dislike for cleaner facilities at football stadia. Some serious revolutionary potential there.

Yet she agrees that racism and sexist chanting is problematic, she agrees that harassment and discrimination in the stands abounds and should be tackled. But when this is highlighted by the mainstream press she goes ape over it, calling it irrelevant to 'real' women's interests (defined by her), which seems to be about fitting in as much as possible with a macho/ aggressive fan culture. Her point seems to be that she doesn't want women to be treated with kid gloves because 'we're just as hard/ working class/ macho/ thick as the guys'. Great. But who is disagreeing with her? Who is trying to segregate women and protect them from the big nasty man at football games? Straw man arguments abound.

Joseph Kay
Mar 5 2012 22:45

I read the article as a rant against the 'feminisation' of football, i.e. the top-down attempt to make it 'appeal to women' (commercially) by being more stereotypically feminine. Maybe it swings over into affirming masculine norms against caricatures of femininity, but it is also explicitly saying sexist shit within football should be challenged by self-organisation of fans. So i think it's saying that football shouldn't be shoehorned into gender stereotypes one way or the other, either by attempts to market it to women or by sexist crap from other fans excluding women.

fwiw i don't know that macho is the right word for football culture. i mean, elements of it definitely are, but shouting abuse from the stands strikes me as more akin to shouting at the tv than squaring up to someone in a pub, i.e. it only seems aggressive if decontextualised. i think what's macho is largely contextual. i.e. if macho is gratuitously performed masculinity, what counts as gratuitous depends on the circumstances. That said, Crow's right that macho has nothing to do with biological men and women, but rather performed masculinity (so women can be macho, obviously).

I also think there's a false dichotomy here between 'fluffy liberal PC activist ghetto land' and 'calling everyone a cunting cunt cos we're not cunting PC liberals you cunt'. fyi revol, quite a few people came back to you on the macho posting thread where you seemed to be suggesting 'macho posting' was a phenomenon dreamed up by IRL macho idiots. I don't think it's a question of for or against fiery rhetoric, but who it's used against. Most of the people I know IRL from that thread are perfectly capable of tearing someone a new one, but just can't be bothered with every conversation being a fistfight, so don't bother when aggro is the norm.

Joseph Kay
Mar 5 2012 23:34
revol68 wrote:
I think when the first thing said about this article is oh it's macho, coupled with such a decontextualised patronising reading of football culture, it's fair enough to assume that there might just a be a disconnect going on here between wider society and the activist ghetto.

i've no idea who the people commenting on this are, let alone whether they're part of an activist ghetto. i don't think it makes sense to hang a criticism on speculation about someone's social habits. like i say, i think football culture is in part macho, but isn't as a whole. i mean in my experience it is male dominated, a major part of lad culture and so on. when i was a kid standing on the terraces was what 'the lads' did, and was bound up with looking up to hard man role models etc. but at the same time football's a lot more than that, and i don't think the passion can be reduced to machismo.

thing is as Serge says, not being a football fan, Crow may miss some of the insider meaning/irony of the text; but for there to be insider irony relies on the fact that on the face of it it sounds a lot like the usual sexist crap (in places). The twist is it's having a go at women who play the stereotypical role assigned to them by marketeers (analogous to feminists criticising breast implants?), and the self-appointed moral guardians who parachute into football looking for authenticity whilst basically gentrifying it.

Now while i don't think passion in football can be reduced to machismo, there's an element of macho mixed up in it, and the article doesn't really unpick that (which is probably what Crow's picking up on, saying it bends the stick too far the other way and apologising for macho culture). I think that's fine, given the context, i.e. it's not aimed at sexism in football but corporate attempts to gentrify football in the name of women and children. The acknowledgements of racist/sexist chanting and the need for fans to challenge this imply to me these issues are taken up elsewhere in the fanzine, or (knowing most anarchist women) a conversation the author ends up having all the time whether they want to or not when someone acts like a sexist dickhead at a match/on the bus/in the pub.

i'll respond to the more general stuff on the macho posting thread.

Edit: in the time it's taken me to reply, you've replied to yourself twice. Does feel more like monologue than dialogue i've gotta say!

Rebelde
Mar 6 2012 03:11

.

Rebelde
Mar 6 2012 01:40
wojtek wrote:
Could you elaborate on your first sentence please, what invectives and strawmen?

Nowhere in that piece does the author say that football culture is inherently racist and sexist or that women should accept it, in fact she explicitly does the opposite and calls for self-organisation among fans to stamp it out where it arises (see the last two paragraphs).

Anyone who scowls at swearing or standing up at games is definitely being too sensitive. Now I'm tempted to include minor hooliganism (away from vulnerable people/ the ground obvs.) in that, but that's a discussion for another day.

Edited grammar.

Thanks for the reply Wojtek.

Regarding my first sentence: I guess when speaking of "invectives" I was thinking of the insults like 'stupid interfering self important bitches,' 'Clueless stuck up wannabe journos,' and 'fuckwittery.' Lacking context, these statements read like a straw man argument. I wondered if she was talking about someone in particular, or if she was just arguing against an oversimplified archetype. The whole thing seemed misogynistic in tone. The gendered slurs - calling women 'bitches' and 'creatures,' talking about their 'breeding and incubation periods,' etc. - combined with the fact that she seemed to be arguing against an imagined archetype (it would make a lot more sense if she provided some concrete context, so perhaps i am reading this wrong), makes the whole thing seem misogynistic. The archetype, by the way, is that of the "uppity bitches" who "can't just take a joke." This stereotype is useful in discouraging women from complaining when they are offended by sexist behavior. Promoting these stereotypes, and discouraging women from calling out sexism, seems like a pretty shitty way to fight against patriarchy. Seems to me that an anarchist-communist website might not want to be promoting these stereotypes. Just my two cents I guess.

Regarding your second question: you have a point. Upon a second reading I see that I clearly missed some of the subtleties in the text. At first I read the text as conflating working class culture, football culture, and sexist and racist behaviors, in an insulting way. When she talked about the "self-righteous pseudo intellectuals" who were "despising every-thing that is working class and traditional" about football, she doesn't give any examples of what those things are. She does however mention sexist and racist chants in the next sentence. I understand that she was not trying to say that working class culture was "inherently" sexist and racist. And you are right to point out that she does call for fans to stamp out these behaviors, and condemns them. But you can probably understand how I could misread the statement upon my first reading, especially since she doesn't give any other examples of what it is that these women supposedly hate (the things that are working class by her assertion). Perhaps there are no examples because she is talking about her straw man, and not anybody real.

finally, regarding your statement "Anyone who scowls at swearing or standing up at games is definitely being too sensitive": i agree with your point here. But is that what she is talking about? Are there actually people scowling at swearing or standing up at games?

I don't know. Perhaps I don't have much to stand on here, because I am woefully ignorant of the context. I live in the u.s. and have a different perspective on women and football (soccer in this country). Female soccer is huge in the u.s. More girls play than boys in grade school and high school, and on the whole the whole culture around soccer is a lot more empowering towards women than seems evident in the discussion here of "feminising football." i don't really think it makes me too p.c. to think women and girls should have the right to participate in sports (whether as athletes or spectators) where they are treated with dignity.

but, i will admit that my first reading was probably a little harsh. I should probably not take this article too seriously. i don't think the author probably meant it to be taken so seriously.

Rebelde
Mar 6 2012 01:45
Ed wrote:
Yeah, rebelde, I think those are unfair comments.. I mean, she frequently attacks sexism at football grounds and even says that it was fan action that did the most to tackle racism in football.. the only bit where I think you could have gotten the idea that she thinks racism and sexism is an inherent part of working class culture is this bit:
Quote:
Their trademark is the bizarre paradox of banging on about how football is a traditional working class sport tainted by modern day moneymaking, while on the other hand despising every-thing that is working class and traditional about it. Particularly those awful fans with their sexist and racist chants (ok they’ve got a point there…) and penchant for alcohol and mindless violence.

..which, when read in context, is more about how this sentiment isn't really genuine, but just hot-air from "wannabe journos" and "politicians". If anything, even the "they're got a point there" seems to imply she thinks racism and sexism are problems at football grounds..

Also, when she talks about racism and sexism again, she says:

Quote:
Now that overt racism has been more or less eradicated from stadiums, thanks largely to fan activism within the grounds themselves [...] these self proclaimed saviours of football have turned their attention to sexism within the game. But of course they haven’t taken up the cause of average matchgoing female football fans and what would make our experiences better – because for all their posturing these women wouldn’t be seen dead mixing it with the rough-necks in the stands – but instead focus their attention on shit that most of us really don’t care about and that we actually find not all that bothersome

So yeah, I definitely don't think she's saying that the "uppity women should just accept [sexism] and quit being so sensitive".. I think she's attacking those who would try to 'clean up' football in the name of protecting female football fans (but without actually ever talking to any)..

As wojtek points out, in the last two paragraphs, she also says:

Quote:
There is no doubting that some things in football stadiums need to change. All too often at matches women experience some seriously out of order discrimination and harassment that should never, ever have to be tolerated [...]
Pathetic attempts to change the game by people who actually know fuck all about its everyday reality helps no one. Positive change can only be achieved by fans themselves identifying the changes they want to see and striving to put them into place with support from their own fan communities. Self organisation and empowering fans to take control for themselves is the way to eradicate the social problems that affect us. That’s something that can’t be achieved from atop a moral high-ground or a column in The Guardian.

point taken. ill admit i misread the article a bit the first go around. but ill stand by the idea that the tone of the article is misogynistic. perhaps i should just take the article for what it is, an attempt at humor (albeit sexist humor), and not invest too much more time or energy into it.

wojtek
Mar 6 2012 15:57

Thanks for the reply Rebelde, really appreciated!

I think I agree with you with regards the insults and I don't think they were necessary to make the same impact.

Quote:
Rebelde wrote:
finally, regarding your statement "Anyone who scowls at swearing or standing up at games is definitely being too sensitive": i agree with your point here. But is that what she is talking about? Are there actually people scowling at swearing or standing up at games?

Yeah, I've been told off a few times for this by fans who I assume to be johnny come latelys and regard football as a status symbol. The atmosphere at my club is pretty poor, recently it issued life bans to some supporters for bringing in flares to a local derby game, which was embarrassing. However there seems to be an increasing amount of people, the author included, who wish to replicate the Ultra scene on the (European) continent. According to the second group described in the article and the poster Crow this would be machismo and therefore regressive, even though the two aren't mutually exclusive.

Evie
Mar 6 2012 17:14

I found this blog really disconcerting. While I agree with the conclusion, i.e. that some things need to change but positive change can only be made by the fans themselves, I found the argument it made to get to the conclusion really quite troubling.

First off all was the description of the first category of female fans, which reads at worst misogynistic, and at best majorly condescending. Yes, some people only watch the major tournaments, but that goes for men and women. Yes, they may not be a "real fan", but that doesn't make them vacous, stupid, or simply out to get laid. While they may only be interested in the major tournaments that doesn't mean their interest isn't sincere.

And then the second category, of women who manage to:

Quote:
"convince... those around them that they have a true knowledge of football"

Well if that's the case then maybe they do! While some may be self-righteous, that's not necessarily incompatible with having a knowledge of football.

The paragraph about them despising everything working class I read in the same way as rebelde initially did - having read the comments I'm willing to accept I'm reading it wrong. But this bit:

Quote:
"they genuinely believe that they are genuine football fans. They've been supporting a team for, ooh around 10 years"

I find really grating. How long do you have to support a side before you're a "real fan"? Does it have to be from childhood? Can no one develop a new interest sincerely?

The categorisation also makes the

Quote:
"average matchgoing female football fan"

someone who is not bothered by

Quote:
"Offensive chanting, moody atmospheres, screaming abuse at players..." [etc]

And this serves to delegitimise any contrary view. And because the other categories of women fans are already painted as figures of fun or hate, the only female fans who will be heard are the ones who agree with the author.

Most importantly, because female fans apparently fit into three categories - vacous and insincere, self-righteous false fans, or "real fans", the idea that maybe men can also be inconsitently interested in football, or also be false fans, is never considered. And if you do consider it, then you find it's not about the feminisation of football at all, but about the gentrification of it: it's about pricing out working class fans, and sanitising the atmosphere. While that may coincide with marketing the game to women, it's not one and the same.

And since when are "nice toilets" and "comfortable seats" feminising? Why are stewards feminising?! And how on earth is this compatible with her later argument for "comfort and safety"?

Obviously, I agree that women shouldn't have to experience discrimination or harrassment, but the rest of the article makes women who don't fit the author's arbitrary idea of a "real fan" scapegoats for all that is wrong with how football is being gentrified. Gentrification becomes feminisation.

Evie
Mar 6 2012 18:23

I understand what the piece is about. But the author doesn't target the use of feminisation as a cover for gentrification, it targets the women themselves.

And fine, she doesn't like it that all female fans are considered as part of one of two categories, but instead of challenging the categorisation of women, she just creates a third. So now we have another arbitrary category, which is just as unrepresentative and unrealistic.

Also, it is possible to hate fans who are only occassionaly interested in the game without using misogynistic, and even dehumanising, language ("creatures") against them.

And yes, I get that the second category of women are the middle class, swearing averse fans who want to sanitise the atmosphere. But the fact that they're women is secondary here. It's not making football accessible to women that's the issue, it's the making it inaccessible to the working classes.

Quote:
"Now you can say that "who is she to say that moody atmospheres and shouting abuse" are okay and don't need to be changed, so that people have comfortable seats, don't stand up and the game is played to polite respectful applause or chants of "Go on football and score a goal""

Thank you for giving me permission to say that, even though that's not what I said at all.

I guess the major problem I have with the article is the total lack of nuance: Women are one of three types; only those who want gentrification (specifically middle class women), could possibly dislike elements of football culture; If you don't like offensive chants you must like sitting down and politely speaking your support.

Yes, it is patronising, it is offensive that women are portrayed as unable to cope. This is agree with. But the author attempts to make this argument by using sexist stereotypes of any women who don't fit her idea of a "real fan".

Evie
Mar 6 2012 18:59

It may well be that taken out of the context of the zine it appears much worse than it is.

But as it was posted here as a single article, and having read it as an individual piece, I engaged with it on those terms. And I found is misogynistic, simplistic, and in some places incoherent and inconsistent (as previously explained).

Now it might be that if I read the rest of the zine I'd find it less offensive, but it wouldn't solve the contradictions within the article.

Ed
Mar 6 2012 19:06

So I've got loads to say on this but not really got time just yet.. in the meantime, we can all content ourselves with the 100% true fact that someone at the BBC reads libcom:

Fever Pitch and the rise of middle-class football

jef costello
Mar 6 2012 19:13

When I first read this I did think is was misogynistic but I re-read it and although it uses words like bitches it is mostly a very strong invective against a particular type of female fan. As it's written from a female fan's perspective I can see why she'd be pissed off at being lumped in with a bunch of people who, in her opinion, are fucking up the game that she loves. I don't think it's particularly macho, to be honest I find that to be a rather unhelpful catch-all term. It's full of invective but to be honest when I talk about where I grew up I get the same as it's gentrified to the point where I can't afford to live there any more.
I don't think it's macho for a woman to believe that people should be able to hold their own within a particular environment that they choose to enter. Obviously racist/sexist chanting behaviour etc need to be dealt with but what's the point in going to football if you aren't going to take it too seriously and sign and shout your head off?

This is making me want to go to football again, but I'm not sure I can really afford it right now.

Evie
Mar 7 2012 23:50

Ok so I've read the whole of the zine, and you're right, she does "consistently assert [her] opposition to sexism" in the rest of it. However...

...in this article (the *lead* article) she uses misogynistic language, characterising women as either 'whores', i.e.'category one', or (middle class) mothers, i.e. category two. So while she states she is against sexism, she also identifies women who are not like her as either sex objects or maternal care-givers. This is massively problematic, and this is not alleviated by the rest of the zine. To me it basically reads the same as a "i'm not sexist but..." comment.

That said, I'm not suggesting she is an out-and-out misogynist. What I'm suggesting is that it's possible to state you hold one opinion (and be sincere) and yet speak/act in a contradictory way. And this article is full of misogynistic language - the author being a woman doesn't change that.

Edit: for typos and clarification

Serge Forward
Mar 8 2012 02:08

I actually find some of the comments in this thread a bit disturbing, it's as if that blog is being slated for not using some kind of right on jazz hands narrative. Like as if anyone actually talks like that outside of activist circles anyway. Not that I'm judging that kind of right on patter, hey it might even be better if we all did talk in that measured non aggressive manner (or is it just measured passive aggression?) but the fact is we don't. But belittling clued up anti-sexist women who happen to be into real football as part of working class culture instead of the Sky, Premier League, ESPN, all seater, prawn sandwich, sanitised, patronising, gentrified profitfest... from people who appear to be totally fucking clueless about football is all a bit rubbish.

Terrace Bint is okay. I might not like everything she says or the way she says it, but she's infinitely preferable to some of the smacked arse 'disgusted from Tunbridge Wells' type comments from her politically aware superiors who seem to think they're better 'feminists'.

In a word, arse.

Crow
Mar 8 2012 03:39
Serge Forward wrote:
I actually find some of the comments in this thread a bit disturbing, it's as if that blog is being slated for not using some kind of right on jazz hands narrative. Like as if anyone actually talks like that outside of activist circles anyway. Not that I'm judging that kind of right on patter, hey it might even be better if we all did talk in that measured non aggressive manner (or is it just measured passive aggression?) but the fact is we don't. But belittling clued up anti-sexist women who happen to be into real football as part of working class culture instead of the Sky, Premier League, ESPN, all seater, prawn sandwich, sanitised, patronising, gentrified profitfest... from people who appear to be totally fucking clueless about football is all a bit rubbish.

Terrace Bint is okay. I might not like everything she says or the way she says it, but she's infinitely preferable to some of the smacked arse 'disgusted from Tunbridge Wells' type comments from her politically aware superiors who seem to think they're better 'feminists'.

In a word, arse.

Whatever. I find your defence of this trashy, sexist article just as unpleasant. It seems to be OK to use sexist, dehumanising and demeaning language 'because that's how we speak in real life', which I don't accept. I couldn't give a shit if it sounds 'right on'. I bet if someone spoke to the author of the piece the way she herself talks about women ('creatures, mongs, bitches') I'm sure they'd get a punch in the mouth.

As for the article, there seems to be little to no awareness of class issues except for a general uneasiness about better facilities at football stadia, and a proulier than thou ("lol they've only been supporting a team for 10 years and they don't like the rough and tumble of the stands they're not 'real' fans") feel to the whole thing that just leaves a really bad taste in my mouth.

A lot of what she's saying comes off as reactionary and just clutching at straws - as if upgrading toilets is in some way an affront to the traditional, beloved game. I find this a little ridiculous when fans are willing to spend more than what I earn in a week on a ticket to watch multi-millionaire manchildren compete at a club owned by other multi-millionaires. Don't take our crusty old toilets away or stop us from singing about tits though, that'd be a step too far!

On that note, she specifically rejects the feminist/ middle-class distaste for songs with "tits" in them. To me that is a problem, and something that indicates a wider sexism in football fandom, just like racist chanting or gesturing does for racism. How can you reasonably expect an end to discrimination/ abuse/ harassment (that she herself notes as widespread) if half the ground are singing sexist songs, or using sexist language?

Serge Forward
Mar 8 2012 12:06
Crow wrote:
Whatever. I find your defence of this trashy, sexist article...

I give up wall