1 April 2016

Football vs Feminism: A Response

I was dismayed this morning to read this piece by Toby Young. I had hoped to discover that it was written as an April Fool's joke, but sadly it seems this is not the case.

I'm not responding in order to attack Toby himself because, though I know his views often ruffle feathers, ad hominem is poor form and is not my style. Besides, I like Mr. Young as a writer, and think he brings a lot to the table on a range of issues. I'd happily listen to him on the EU, or schools, and so on...

But he's wrong this time. My primary objection to the article is straightforward and so I shall be brief.

Mr Young complains that the 'politically correct brigade' - by making themselves visible at football matches - are encroaching into unwelcome (male) territory. I believe there are two key errors made in the article which concede ground where it need not be conceded.

The first error is that political correctness is equated (unintentionally or otherwise) with concern for justice, compassion and the welfare of others. These things are not the same, and some would even see them as being in opposition. Secondly, having thus defined political correctness, it is then placed over and against what is called 'traditional masculine behaviour'. Thus, there is the suggestion that there is something un-masculine about breast cancer awareness initiatives, 'anti-racist and anti-sexist messages', and the FA's Respect campaign.

'Overt masculinity'?
So, what does it mean to engage in 'overt masculinity'? What are we offered by the writer as an antidote to this supposed feminist ascendancy? Not much. Here are some of the suggestions made in the article: 'intense competition', 'physical aggression' and 'chest beating'. And of course it all has to take place 'away from the family home', because, you know, we men only take part in the raising of children because we have to. We'd much rather be outside growling in the mud.

I'm not of the opinion that there is no such thing as masculinity, or that gender is inconsequential, but I do think that to equate masculinity with aggression and dismissal of concern for the welfare of others is to give up the fight. I'm a man and I'm no knuckle-dragger. And, may I say, Toby Young is no knuckle-dragger either, but he hasn't helped anyone's cause here.

What I'd like to see is a stronger male voice on issues of equality, justice, integrity and fairness. Masculinity ought to mean tackling these things head on for the benefit of the whole of society. If that happens at a football match, then I'd be happy to support it. Let's not suggest that we, as men, are more interested in getting away from little wifey for a couple of hours so we can beat one another up.

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