Much has been said about the vomit inducing article written last Thursday by the chief sports writer for the Peterborough Telegraph on just how dull women’s sport is. It was an article obviously written to provoke a reaction and for that reason I’m not going to comment on how completely patronising, small minded, sexist and horrendously incorrect it is, there have already been enough awesome blogs and comments on this. I’m not even going to give the article the credit of being linked to on here, go and look it up on Google if you wish to be made angry and also sad that something so irresponsible has gone to print.
One thing I am going to say though, is why is it okay for something like this to go to print? Something that so obviously belittles women and pushes aside their achievements in one sweeping generalisation from an incredibly misguided man? The article is a cesspit of brash and blatant sexism with no attempts to disguise what he’s trying to say, but he doesn’t have to because unfortunately sexism is completely socially acceptable. It’s fine to say half the world’s population are insuperior to the other when you’re basing these statements on those born with XX chromosomes. Hey it will probably annoy a few people, but they’re part of the insuperior collection anyway. But imagine if this wasn’t about gender. Imagine if this article had been written about an ethnic group, or a religion. There would have been a national outcry, shock and horror from all sides (apart from the Neo-Nazis I suppose) and Alan ‘Swanny’ Swan, author of this profound piece, would probably have been put up on some sort of hate crime. He’d probably go to jail. Or be lynched. Maybe both.
Of course, he wouldn’t have gone to jail, nor to the lynching mob because the other editors would never have let a piece like this go to print. They would have deemed it the ravings of a mad man and likely to see their beloved paper closed down forever. ‘Sorry Africa Cup of Nations, you were dull (because you’re african), ‘Sorry India, your cricket’s dull (because you’re Indian)’ ‘Sorry Mo Farah, you’re Olympic double gold medal triumph was dull (because you’re Muslim)’ – see, it would look like the work of someone mentally unhinged. Media law would not protect you if any of these headlines hit your paper, so once again I ask, why is it okay for such blatant sexism to be casually slotted into a paper without fear of any sort of full on, heavy handed backlash. We live in an advanced and supposedly civilised society, yet in some ways women have about as much freedom as they did at the turn of the last century when it comes to competing in what’s deemed a ‘man’s world’. Sometimes it feels we got the vote and that was the peak of things really. Sometimes I feel like hitting my head against a brick wall.
Finally, on what grounds does Alan Swan have to pass judgement on all women’s sport? Okay so maybe women’s cricket wasn’t quite his thing as he likes to see the big hitters pounding out 6’s, but what about every other sport women participate in? Hockey, rowing, cycling for example. I’m not sure anyone could have watched Jess Ennis sprint home in her 800m at the end of her heptathlon and claim they were bored, but maybe Alan Swan will…