Stenhousemuir captain Nicole McPhee become victim of vile trolling following their match against Rangers in the women’s Scottish Cup on Sunday. Tweets after the game started pouring in from male Rangers fans calling her ‘out of shape’, body shaming her and even saying she ‘doesn’t look like a professional player.’
Unfortunately issues like this are very apparent for women in the public eye, especially in sports and entertainment. For decades women have been critiqued for their looks more than their ability and life skills.
If the criticism Nicole received was about her ability rather than just her appearance, then outrage wouldn’t have been sparked. Every time issues like this come to be it is met with anger which begs the question, why does this keep happening?
Systematic misogyny and sexism are often attributed as the reasons why people feel happy to broadcast these attitudes unnecessarily but in terms of women’s football the issue isn’t as cut and dry.
Women’s football is a sport that is often put down and berated with some even refusing to watch the female equivalent of their men’s team. This was seen in April 2021 when Forfar Farmington goalkeeper Lauren Perry scored a terrific goal from her own box. BBC Sport Scotland posted a clip of the goal which was met with large amounts of backlash demeaning Lauren’s goal and her as a female player. The replies to the clip featured things such as ‘this is why women’s football shouldn’t be taken seriously’ and that ‘female goalkeepers are trash’.
The lack of interest in the game as well as one’s own perception of how a female and by proxy a female athlete should look is what causes so much anger in the community when female players are targeted. Often when a player is targeted, they are used as a reason to hate or diminish the quality within the female game, or it is based on their appearance.
Some try to counter argue the negative treatment of female players by saying ‘well men players get criticised for similar things and no one gets angry.’ Which Is true male stars do get criticised unfairly sometimes but it’s a different scenario as these individuals do not get used as examples to hate all of men’s football.
Stenhousemuir Ladies are a part-time side playing in the SWF Championship- South and as such have different resources and protocols than their full-time opponents on Sunday. McPhee had trained on the build-up to the game and was deemed to be in form and in good shape to play by her coach, the shape of her body shouldn’t matter.
The club have made statements on social media saying: “Some shocking and disgusting comments being made on social media since the Rangers Women’s game about some of our players. Our players do a fantastic job and don’t deserve that sort of abuse, they work hard and deserve nothing but respect.
“We appreciate all the support from the football community. Sadly, while these instances of abuse towards players are not from the majority, they are common, in particular towards women. More respect needs to be given to women in sport.”
Others involved in women’s football in Scotland showed Nicole support with former Scotland internationalist Leanne Crichton saying:” Utterly outrageous that any player or person is subjected to online abuse. The application, commitment and resilience of players is admirable and if only other parts of society could match that, the world might be a kinder and more tolerable place.”