Woman’s sport successes have become more acknowledged and celebrated worldwide in the last two decades, which begs the question why are female athletes and fans not given the same respect as their male equivalents?
It is not uncommon for girls to attend football matches and even play for football teams growing up but unfortunately the silly and childish attitude of ‘football is a boy’s sport’, ‘no girls allowed’ seems to never grow old, even if the men using these phrases have. Often when a girl says she supports a team she’ll almost always get asked ‘Yeah but do you go to games?’, ‘do you actually support them, or do you only care during derby games and cup games?’, ‘name the full team’.
Twitter user @kaylamurphy_04 knows these questions all too well. She said: “For being a rangers fan I’ve been criticised so many times it’s a joke! I’ve just been brought up to love the team my family supports n that’s that. There’s no need for people to criticise just because they are a girl, yes, some girls don’t know all the details about their team, but it doesn’t mean they should be judged or made to feel uncomfortable. You should want to welcome other fans into the club, not drive them away”.
Glasgow City girls centre back and founder of @thefemalegame on Twitter Courtney McKenzie said:” As a player I have had many of insults thrown at me from other players and coaches alike.
‘if you want to look like a man then go and play with the men’ because I am a centre back and have short hair, I get that one a fair bit, could also be because I’m quite tall and built so I’m not afraid to make tackles.”
Similar experiences were shared by @BroganmcKay2 on Twitter. Brogan said: “I played football from the age of 12 until I was 15 and I always received comments from male classmates at school giving me the usual ‘you shouldn’t play woman are awful at football’, ‘leave it to the boys, girls are p*ssies’. ”
A former female player and avid football fan that wishes to remain anonymous said: “Whenever I play football at school, I was constantly told I’ll never be as good as the boys, yet I would score the most goals in a penalty shootout. Even watching football, I always get told ‘you only do it for attention from boys yet I grew up with football and constantly going to games”.
These negative outbursts are also common towards female fans, especially online. Another female fan that wishes to remain anonymous revealed that she had been repeatedly called a tramp, was told she was an embarrassment to her club, a sl*t and other derogatory insults solely based on her football views. Twitter user @leahsmithh7 also revealed similar experiences. She said: “Looking back you can laugh at it but in the moment, it does really make you feel bad, there’s a difference between patter and insults.
“People have even gone as far to say I’m a waste of oxygen and I should kill myself.”
It is alarming the amount of female on female hate between women using the same misogynistic insults men fans tend to use. Screenshots provided by Leah show grown women calling her a “waste of space” and ugly. Within the at times toxic environment seen in Scottish football woman should engage in sports debates with each other without having to broadcast such hateful thoughts, especially online.
Unfortunately, this incident hasn’t been the only time where adult football supporters, who you would think would know better, have shown complete disrespect to the younger generations. Brogan said:” Last season I was leaving McDiarmid Park after a St Johnstone VS Rangers match and I had commented on how badly Rangers had played and made a joke about how I could play better, and I had a male rangers fan spit on me.”
Twitter user @mfclauren has experienced grown men insult her. Lauren said:” There was once these two old men with grandchildren older than me who were sat calling me ugly because I had said something about the playoffs”. She also revealed that the most frequent insults her and her friends receive are related to their appearances and assumptions about their sex lives.
However, it isn’t all doom and gloom as many girls have been able to form friendships through their love of football with both males and females. Although football creates tensions between rival fans it also has a beautiful ability to unite people with a common love. The joy and excitement felt between friends in the supporters’ pub before a game is astronomical and the atmosphere is always buzzing and positive.
Women’s role and experience in football fan culture may not always be positive but seeing your team succeed when you’re with your friends or sitting drowning your sorrows after a rough game is part of the main appeals of football. Football teams create a sense of community for their supporters and the feeling of acceptance and love felt amongst like-minded supporters and team mates is what makes being a football fan worth it.