Should not still be so focused on this, but as the controversy escalates it’s hard not to get pulled in (and increasingly annoyed). Especially when you not only work in the media industry, but as it happens have somehow got dropped in the middle of Premier League broadcasting.
It’s of course the spectacle ala Andy Gray and Richard Keys, which started on Saturday after some rather boyish (or as Key’s refers to it ‘lad mag banter’) comments disrespecting the female assistant referee’s knowledge of the office rule (and very presence on the pitch).
First of all there’s the discussion of whether or not gals should be working top division male football matches. Personally I see no reason why we couldn’t move football along into the 21st century along with the rest of the sports world. Rio Ferdinand tweeted it best, saying
‘I’m all for women refereeing in football, discrimination should not happen in our game at all… prehistoric views if u think otherwise.’ and ‘They should be judged like the men… on the basis of their performance!’
Even Fabio Capello (current England manager) made a statement, saying –“”I hear there is a sexism row but I played a lot of games with a woman linesman in Italy… Every time she was focused and made the correct decisions. The women linesmen are good.” .
And Kenny Daglish of Liverpool queried the Sky reporter on whether he was alright with there being a female journalist in the room (brilliant!). And comments like these, from top players and coaches mean the world because the young ‘lads’ and gals will look up to them and think ‘Huh, well, Rio said it was cool so…’
Still, there are pleanty of opposing views to match Gray and Keyes, for example BBC Scotland rep and former Hibernian assistant manager Brian Rice –
“I don’t like it, I must admit,” he said. “To be fair to the lady, it was a great call she made on Saturday. But I think if she had got that wrong, she has opened herself up for a lot of criticism. I think they obviously know the rules. They will know them better than us. I think it is the pressure they put themselves under. They are as fit as any guy can be and can run as quick as any male referee, but putting themselves in the spotlight like that might affect them.”
Is the ‘concern’ for their psychological well being enough of a reason to ban them from the (male) game though? Or just an outdated excuse, especially if they’re making the right calls? Surely Sian & CO (in whatever speciality/industry) should be allowed to make that choice for themselves. No femme ref walks into a PL match without being fully prepared for a potential backlash/innuendos and infinite comments/shit storm of epic proportions. But at the end of the day, if she does the job just as well as a boy why should her presence be condemned?
But regardless of your views on this matter, that’s just part of the discussion. Andy Gray got sacked part due to the PR shit storm he landed in his employer’s (BSkyB) lap, and partially because he made very few allies during his 20 (!) yrs of service at the sports desk. And I bet you quite a few of these frenemies were women, see we may grin and bear it to a great extent as part of daily working life (bah humbug), but we don’t forget, it does grate our nerves, and we’re not gonna throw the life raft any more then you would.
Sports Agent (one of only 10 female pro agents in the UK) Georgina remarks: “I’ve had far worse said to my face… Sian Massey made the right calls in a big game – she was great… In fact, you could say she had the balls to deal effectively with matters.”
“People think I am a wife, girlfriend or in meetings they assume I am the tea lady or secretary. It doesn’t bother me – I like to be underestimated – it’s a good place to start from.”
This, and the video of Andy Gray asking Charlotte Jacksson (fellow Sky presenter and femme fatale) to ‘tuck it in’ motioning to his crotch with his mic, is in no way uncommon. In fact, days without a few everyday sexist remarks that could lead to a fairly successful law suit are more of a surprise than those filled with them. But, like Georgina says, it can be used as an advantage because you’re always striking from below… And everyone loves a successful underdog!
Maybe it’s just the media industry, but more likely it’s a national boys perspective on gals. Whether it appears charming, gentlemanly ground-work, as unwanted flirtations, or downright uncomfortable comments none of it belongs at the workplace. Quite a big part of that is on us gals to shake our heads and say ‘no, actually, we’re stepping right on into the 21st century… you lot coming along or not?’. If they enjoy spreading their ‘lad mag banter’ so much then they can stay while the rest of the world moves slowly past them. Bottom line sexism, racism, homophobia, etc etc etc etc has no place at work, out on the streets, or in sports. Yes, maybe we’re making too much of a small comment, but a million of those comments over a long period of time is what made this news-frenzy flood burst, not just banter gone wrong on a Saturday afternoon or a gal’s presence in a ‘man’s world’.
On a side note, the Football Association put in a ban on women’s football between 1922-1960s (ladies were not allowed to practise the sport on the grounds of the FA and their affiliates). This after they had produced a team known as the Dick, Kerr’s Ladies back in the 1910s that whopped not only most UK male football butts, but in fact toured the states and did quite well! They also played at Goodison Park in 1920 to raise money and had a crowd of 53,000+ (with reportedly another 10-15k turned away due to lack of space). But just in case they were still unsure about that darn offside rule the FA stepped in and quickly hindered any further embarrassment.
Just saying… Over and out