Thursday, 12 January 2012

Why it's a good thing that Paul Jewell is trending on Twitter

On my way to work this morning I saw a sticker in the back window of a car that said: 'My daughter plays rugby' in bold, pink letters.

At first I thought, 'well that's a bit of an odd thing to have advertised in your car'.

But when I thought about it more I realised that, actually, it's not. This couple are doing what they can to dis-spell the myth that women do not belong in sport, or at least in certain sports like football or rugby.

The same could be said for Paul Jewell's calamitious comments last night. At first glance you think it doesn't really mean anything: he was angry at the officials for missing a blatant penalty decision.

I could even go further in his defence and say the reporters question shows the initial signs of 'sexism' by raising her gender into the debate, and Jewell just takes his lead.

But you have to look further into this debate to understand why Paul Jewell has today been trending on Twitter, not just in the UK but worldwide.

In recent months women's sport has taken a few knocks: It was reported only last week that participation in women's football was down by a third. A third! Imagine the football league with a third of it's teams removed.

Girl's and women's involvement in sport has been attributed to a number of things, the media being one of them. But to me what is the biggest cause is the underlying belief that women are inferior when it comes to football.

Meanwhile the nominations for the recent BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards were announced with the notable absence of any female stars at all.

Now I'm not going to take anything away from the nominees themselves, they all earned the right to be there. But the fact that female sports stars were overlooked entirely was significant as it suggested an underlying feeling that women are not as important as men in sport.

Having been going to watch Town play for 18 years, I am happy to say that for the huge majority of the time I have not experienced a negative reaction to the fact that I am a women involved in football. Sometimes people are impressed, but more often than not they are indifferent - which is the way I like it.

But there are still signs that people either disapprove or don't consider me on an even keel with my male counterparts.

Take my journey home from Hull last weekend as a good example: as I passed through Doncaster train station I was joined by a large group of Notts County fans, all male. They were a good bunch, in high spirits from their FA Cup victory and when they sang 'get your tits out for the lads' at me I took it in jest and just rolled my eyes.

But what I did find disturbing from my conversation with them was their absolute surprise that I was not attending the match with my boyfriend. Genuinely, they were astounded that, as a woman, I wasn't by his side and that he had allowed me to go out to watch football on my own. Honest. I'm not even exaggerating.

And as for when I told them he was a Blades fan they were speechless. Presumably, as a woman, I ought to follow his lead and support the same team he does. How can I go against his wishes? Thankfully, Kev isn't like that so I can continue with my independence of life as a travelling town fan.

Referring all this back to Jewell, I don't think those County fans meant any more offence than he did. It was said without a second thought, but that's what I find upsetting. In this day and age, the thought that women in football are inferior to the men is totally abismal and should not be allowed to just go un-noticed.

Paul Jewell should have been more professional. Having already caused a stir at a press conference this week with his apporach to questions, he really should have been watching what he said. I can understand he was angry, we all were because that result was totally unjustified. BUT, the fact that it even crossed his, the journalist's or even the fan's minds is what has made this such an important argument.

I'm not going to say Jewell out. But I'm no longer so forcefully saying Jewell in.

In Jewell I am rapidly losing my faith.

But in the Town players I will always trust.


Paul said...

I saw you on Blogger
Can i talk to you or ask your advice on something?

Alasdair Ross said...

Amy- good post, think PJ was led on by Press questions. The point with Ipswich is that in the past he has not had a go at officials- he is now desperate.

On women in sport- anniversary of Keys episode and PJ's 'past' he was an easy target.
i think PJ should be sacked but because of the football (or lack of) rather than the comments (though stupid) he made

Anonymous said...

Excellent. I personally feel what PJ said wasn't meant to be sexiest but really managers should be media trained and take a deep breath and think!

As for the decision, again, I feel that for years the championship has been subject to poor quality officials. Their inconsistency always frustrates, this should be what is being addressed!

I am not Jewell out or in, he is our manager and I will back him. I believe it's up to us as fans to support our club and lift them when we are down - Amy you do this so well - IBELIEVETHATWEWILLWIN

NYSully said...

Great and insightful post Amy, the fact that PJ made the distinction that the assistant referee was a woman was sexist in itself, he probably meant no harm but the message is wrong and is a reflection on the state of his reign at Town, May be time for him to toddle off now.

Ibrahim Mustapha said...

Alright Downes!

You could/should have taken the opportunity to link to your documentary somewhere in this piece. Otherwise, top work.