Sometimes I really hate being a female sports fan. Really, all I want to do is to be able to appreciate my team, watch games, euphorically celebrate wins and cry my eyes out over losses, the same as any (male) sports fan. But usually what I get is a load of shit instead. No one ever assumes that a guy watching sports inherently doesn’t understand the rules. No one ever assumes he is solely watching the sport because he thinks the players are hot. (Which, in addition to just being stupid and sexist, is really heterosexist. So, in this world where women apparently only watch sports to ogle attractive men, lesbians don’t exist, and if they do they apparently dislike sports). People assume if a guy is watching sports it’s because he’s asserting his masculinity the way men are supposed to do. The concept of men as sports fans is a norm in our society. There are books about it, there are movies about it, and guys can feel free to talk about sports ad nauseum. Not to mention, once men get over the apparent anomaly of a female sports fan, the final reaction is something along the lines of “woah, that’s hot.” Score! (Pun intended, sorry, I had to do it). Clearly that’s what I was going for. It’s not that I actually enjoy watching soccer, it’s that I think the men on the field are pretty fucking fine, and that I want to bask in the attention from men who decide I’m hot because I enjoy a sport.
Take the picture linked to in this post: a charming, witty “World Cup Guide for Women” featuring a mostly naked woman sitting on a bed, twisting her hair, staring at the ceiling. Because just in case you didn’t already know, women are clueless morons, especially when it comes to sports. Clueless morons who should exist only to be a pair of equally sized, large but still perky tits. Clueless morons who are just so annoying, not being able to understand sports the way men can. And then you have to go explain the rules to them because otherwise they nag and nag and nag! It is hard, the life of a cisgendered heterosexual male. Every section of that article is beyond misogynistic and patronizing. And their explanation of the offsides rule is simply baffling. (If you have trouble reading it in that picture, check out this equally offensive link which offers a similar explanation “for women”). I have no idea what their explanation is trying to say, and not because I am an incapable woman, but because it is poorly written. In the words of my friend Kenzie, just because you change a soccer ball to a purse does make your shitty writing easier for women to understand. (The offside rule means, by the way, just so that I can prove that I understand despite my gender identity, that if a player is offsides—on the opponent’s half of the pitch and closer to the opponent’s goal line than the opponent’s second to last defender—when the ball is played, they cannot become actively involved in play). Furthermore, look at the questions that this male writer assumed a woman would ask, for example, “Why does Wayne Rooney always seem so angry?” Really? REALLY. Women do not care about the sport, clearly, they just give a shit about trivial things like Wayne Rooney’s famously shitty disposition. Not to mention, male sports fans, if this is what you really think of women, then why date them? If women really are annoying vapid idiots who interrupt your sports, then why bother?
The societal cliché of women being vapid idiots who only watch sports to see hot guys is one of the toughest hurdles for female sports fans. You are constantly questioned about whether or not you’re a real fan or if you’re just a bimbo interested in hot men. Which just ends up being another manifestation of the madonna/whore dichotomy—you are either a good, knowledgeable, pure fan or you are a silly, sex-obsessed slut. What pains me most about this is that much of the “whore” accusation comes from within the female fan community. I completely understand why though: as female fans we constantly have to defend our love of whatever game in a way that men don’t have to do. (Sure a man may have to defend loving Chelsea instead of Arsenal, or something, but he never has to defend why he loves soccer itself). In blaming some other girl as a “fake fan” who only watches because she loves Cesc Fabregas, my love for Arsenal begins to seem more legitimate. The thing is, though, as pointed out by Kenzie, sports are entertainment. They are passion, they are fun, they are stressful, they are wins and losses, but they are meant to be entertaining. So why shouldn’t someone watch “superficially” if that’s what they enjoy? If some girl likes watching Fabregas run around on a field why shouldn’t she be allowed to do that? Just like if I enjoy watching the “beautiful game” itself, I should be allowed to watch it without being objectified or having my interests be delegitimized.
This discussion of delegitimization brings me to another issue: women’s sports. Women’s sports are notoriously undervalued and underappreciated. Maria Sharpova is not internationally known because she is an amazing tennis player, but because she is attractive. When people mention her, that is usually one of the first things they say. No one brings up Roger Federer’s looks in relation to how he plays tennis. Because looks are irrelevant to how one plays a sport. But for a woman to be of any value in our society, she must look good. At all times. It doesn’t matter what her job is, if she doesn’t look pristine and fuckable while doing it, she’s not worth anything (and as anyone who plays sports can tell you, it’s kind of hard to look sexy while sweating and trying to kick ass). The World Cup this year was a HUGE DEAL, the way it usually is. Because men play in the World Cup. Just in case anyone didn’t know, after the men’s World Cup this summer the women’s U-20 World Cup aired. (Albeit on ESPN3, which is usually just streaming online, not actually on TV). And in case people were wondering, the U.S. Women’s National team made it to the quarterfinals, which was farther than our men’s team made got in South Africa. Not that it matters, though, because it is less impressive and less interesting and so on when women play sports. Anyone remember when 50 Cent mocked Venus Williams for being intimidating and buff? Usually when one excels at sports they end up being fit… normally that helps them win games and that kind of thing. His comment was merely a way of trivializing her talent and her prowess in a male-dominated field. To scare her away, because what happens when women are better than men at the things that men are supposed to excel at? Every comment made to mock female fans serves the same purpose. We’re moving in on men’s territory, and that scares the shit out of them. What I’m trying to say is that next time someone tells you how nice your tits look in that jersey or they ask if you only care because so-and-so is hot, ask them if they even actually know what the offsides rule is. And if they don’t, explain it to them. Maybe using an example with something manly, like cars. Because men are simple, you know.
* For some fun extra reading, check out Kenzie’s tumblr and her comments (with my other friend Anila) on the “real fan” vs. “fake fan” issue.
Edited at 11:47 a.m. to add: You all should also check out redcardhomophobia.org, a group working to eradicate homophobia from soccer.
5 thoughts on “The Shocking Truth about Female Sports Fans”
I think it’s interesting that where and whenever women intersect with something of “male interest” like sports, videogames, gun magazines, etc. they become instant sex objects to propogate that interest. Conversely when men are interested in, oh say fashion, cooking, child care, and all those other lovely things women are supposed to like, they are asexual or “so gay”.
Hi – Im’ working on story for the Richmond Times-Dispacth about femal sports fans. Would live to interveiw you for the story. Shoot me an e-mail if you’re interested in talking with us. -Sundra Hominik, senior editor, RTD, firstname.lastname@example.org
agree with KillerTofu, i was ogled all summer while I was at the World Cup due to my extensive knowledge of the manager and players on the pitch. conversely, i didn’t see a “gay” man there. clearly there’s no room for any of those men to do anything remotely feminine in the most important month in four years.
Federer is a totally hotte. And roddick. But of course i’d still love tennis even if they weren’t