Hey, summer. It’s nice to see you. A big ‘yay’ to the appearance of that elusive orange thing in the sky and with it a welcome tsunami of sporting treats for us to get our glut on – Wimbledon, Tour de France, Euros, Cricket, Athletics, to name a few.
Excitement is in the air and it’s time to bang the drum for the biggest battle in the sporting world: the fight for gender equality. Ye-ha. It’s a tirelessly long game where women continuously fight to win something close to equality in sport while fielding foul play at every turn. That this is still ‘a thing’ is an utter mind-boggle but then again, as recent times prove, equality across the board still has a way to go. In years to come, kids will study our period of history and for a compendium of reasons will be utterly WTF.
In peak sporting season, the spy-like algorithms of my social media bait me. My feeds are awash with an array of ‘you might like this’ pieces on women in sport, all of which seem to follow the same theme – the ongoing disparity between men and women, sexism and general bullshit busting on those who to try and slap down the achievements of females. There is a plethora of articles out there which are amazing in their ability to make me shake my fist with red hot rage while simultaneously firing me up to be even more right-on in my support of females in sport.
Right now I’m side-eyeing the likes of John McEnroe who, as you might have already heard, while acknowledging Serena Williams’ status as an incredible female athlete, simultaneously belittles her achievements into oblivion by stating that she wouldn’t be nearly as successful if she played men. In fact, he claimed, she’d probably be seeded at about *plucks high-figured number from thin air*, 700. She may be good when competing against other women, but she’s nothing compared to a man, right?
This is the most stupid argument that seems to turtle-head out of troglodyte mouths with such predictability you almost feel sorry for them. Just look at any article online about women in sport, especially ones which serve to raise awareness about the inherent challenges, and scroll down to the comments. Teems of anonymous avatars spitting draconian venom about women’s inferiority to men, with the occasional splattering of sexually violent threats chucked in, just to cherry-top the bitter mix.
Ok, so how do I put this? Men and women compete in different classes. They are different and therefore do not compete against each other, much like the different weight categories in boxing. You don’t compare a boxer in one weight category to that of another. But, of course, because women play sport against other women they should be looked at via the gaze that they’re never going to be as good as men, right? Pish. Women’s sport, despite being a separate entity to men’s, is somehow always comparable in twizzled minds.
There’s a range of articles out there which detail the intricate landscape of women’s sport much better than I. These articles seamlessly destroy many of the arguments both keyboard warriors and those with power and money at the top of the sporting world try to put forward to justify holding back the momentum of women.
Ultimately, what I’m urging you to do is to give women’s sport your eyes and ears this summer and beyond. The more we consume, the more we demand, and the more respect we give will mean the powers that be will be forced to sit up and adjust their disparity.
But let’s end on a cheery note. Interest in women’s football continues to defy the odds in terms of growing popularity. The upcoming UEFA Women’s Euro Finals coverage ended in a bidding war with Channel 4 successfully poaching the television rights from the BBC. It’s on this month so vote with your TV remote and big up the women.
Cycling photos by Chris Payne