Men are the worst.
Ok so that’s a massive, sweeping generalisation (being a man myself I’d like to say that quite a few of us are ok!) but one Twitter post earlier this week has confirmed that there are still a number of colossal muppets out there.
What was a largely innocent, breaking news tweet on whether the current WSL season could be cancelled due to Covid-19 quickly turned into quite a fierce battleground.
Within minutes the comments section was full of remarks that were, at best, undermining and, at worst, cruel and sexist.
That sparked a number of retorts from the general public and a number of professional footballers calling these people out for what they are – morons.
— Remi Allen (@remi_allen) May 18, 2020
It was fantastic to see so many from both genders sticking up for women’s sport but, at the same time, it is worrying that they needed to in the first place.
What makes it worse is that comments like this are still a regular occurrence whenever a major outlet posts about female athletes, especially footballers.
References to looks and weight, pointless insults and sexist remarks consistently prevail.
And what’s worse is that, as women’s sports gains more coverage, the more this type of crap gets written.
It’s interesting that it was on this post that people have decided to take a stand and put the bullies firmly in their place. Perhaps it’s because lockdown means we are spending more time on social media and have more time to fight back; perhaps it’s because we’ve finally had enough of seeing such rubbish.
The most fascinating aspect however was seeing the number of current footballers and fellow female sporting stars prepared to tackle the idiots.
As someone who works with professional athletes, this is not what we would normally advise. These individuals are looking for people to bite and most of the time it really isn’t worth getting drawn into an argument as it may not end well.
But on this occasion those who did speak up did so brilliantly. It was refreshing, honest and powerful.
The 52 writer and Reading midfielder Remi Allen, Liverpool’s Kirsty Linnett and Lewes FC forward Katie Rood were just three who responded to the taunts. GB Hockey’s Olympic gold medallist Hollie Pearne-Webb also expressed her dismay.
Furthermore professional boxer (and former footballer) Stacey Copeland provided her own fantastic take on the situation, outlining how female athletes ‘are not looking for negative folks on twitter to validate us. Instead we have an inner drive they wouldn’t understand, and a whole generation of girls to inspire’.
Tottenham goalkeeper Chloe Morgan made perhaps the most interesting argument, which you can read below.
The state of some of these comments is ridiculous. Not only is this news about people’s jobs and livelihoods being threatened, it is also a significant disappointment to women and girls who have worked hard to build and achieve something special #fa #wsl #womensfootball #BeKind https://t.co/wGiWed1B0S
— Chloe Morgan (@Morgie_89) May 19, 2020
This is a very similar point to one made by Yorkshire cricketer Katie Levick earlier this month, when she wrote a strongly worded piece criticising those cheering the postponement of The Hundred.
Were people celebrating when British Steel collapsed last summer? Are people partying as a result of the potential loss of thousands of jobs due to the current global pandemic?
Of course not. So why do people feel it’s ok to celebrate the fact that hundreds – if not thousands – of women’s livelihoods could be under threat?
Women who have worked exceptionally hard to get to where they are, possess sporting talent most can only dream of and inspire millions of people.
Not everyone is going to like women’s football. That’s a fact of life – you can’t please all the people all the time.
People also have the right to express that opinion. But to insult, demean and belittle is not on, especially when more than just football could be at stake.
Unfortunately however it’s likely to continue for the foreseeable though thanks to the relative anonymity of posting on social media.
So many of these comments come from men who hide their real identity but either not sharing their full name or having a profile picture or something other than their face.
In addition, often their bio says something that simply doesn’t make sense or clearly signals that they are a prat.
We certainly would like to see if they said the same things when placed face-to-face with these women.
The comments on this post about women’s sport are awful. Thankfully as female athletes we’re not looking for negative folks on twitter to validate us, instead we have an inner drive they wouldn’t understand, and a whole generation of girls to inspire. So, that’s what we’re doing. https://t.co/O4jInwMtul
— Stacey Copeland (@scopelandboxer) May 19, 2020
But how do we get over this problem?
Quite simply, female athletes have to keep doing what they are doing and eventually the positivity will drown out the crass.
It’s been so awesome to see the acceleration in the acceptance and following of women’s sport in recent years. Of course it should never have had to happen in the first place but, after so many years of oppression, it’s fantastic to see the recognition start to appear.
There are always going to be those who try to undermine it; it’s the same with everything.
Yet instead of let them rile us, let’s use this drivel as ammunition to keep promoting women’s sport, keep showcasing the brilliant individuals and one day achieve the ultimate goal – sporting gender equality.
And finally, a message to all female athletes out there at any level…
Please continue to keep proving the t**ts wrong & inspire the masses.