Everyday Sexism

A university American Football team over to the west has been banned for the rest of the season because of a sexually-explicit and aggressively-motivated Facebook post by their social secretary.

Normally in the interest of context I’d put it here for reference, but it was the sort of thing that a person reads once, reads a second time in shock, and hopes never to have to see or read or hear anything so repugnant ever again. It really was one of those things that falls under the ‘Things We Wish We Could Un-See’ umbrella and whilst I’m sure its author (and to be honest, it brings down the term ‘author’ in a big, bad way) didn’t mean for this kind of kickback from the American Football world, in light of this happening over the weekend I feel it’s important to make the club’s stance on these kind of events very clear.

Unfortunately we are an extremely male-dominated organisation; we currently have four women working in volunteer roles, all of them administrative and all four women are wives of players or coaching staff. We sometimes have a female official on game days but apart from that, we currently have no female coaches, and no registered female players.

This is something we as a unit are working hard to change, because we believe very strongly that women in American Football differ only from the men in what WC door they go through when such is necessary. We do not believe that they are there solely for the off-field amusement of the players, which was the opinion of the social secretary whose team is, temporarily, no more. Such attitudes have absolutely no place in our organisation, in our league, in our sport or anywhere in this country. It’s not banter, it’s not legendary. It is harmful. It hurts people.

We are absolutely delighted to have drawn the attention of three individual females during this off-season who have made the time and effort to come down to our taster sessions to give the sport a go. Our only stumbling block to providing a dedicated women’s team at the Essex Spartans is coaching resources; nothing more. If you are reading this, male or female, and looking for somewhere to join, we encourage you to knock at our door.

An apology is due from the aggressor, to the potentials who may have considered American Football before this incident, and now will not. We hope that, on behalf of more than 70 varsity teams and 60-ish senior teams around the UK that you do not revoke your interest on account of this – whether you are male or female, interested in playing or just hoped you could go along to a game and enjoy yourself without being made to feel uncomfortable.

I’m not sure if it’s immediately obvious but the club media person behind the blog, the website, the Twitter accounts and the Facebook pages – me – is very, very female. I volunteer here at the Spartans because my gender completely failed me as a qualified sports journalist out in the public domain, and one of the first questions I was ever asked at an American Football game was,

“If you aren’t a cheerleader, what the hell are you even doing here?”

Everyday sexism can be squashed and crushed out of sport, and events like this are thankfully rare, which proves we’re managing it. The ban on the team proves it isn’t tolerated either, which is all we can ask for.

This isn’t a PR post in response to something arbitrary that happened far away – this hurts.

This hurts a lot.