Warning – angry bird in the house!

Jane KenyonI have tried but the duct tape has gotta come off! First came the revelations surrounding Saville and his cronies, then Stuart Hall attempted to wriggle out of abuse charges with a few low tactics including bribes and finding a barrister who felt the age of consent should be lowered to 13, so he would be innocent! Just as we were praying this level of institutional exploitation was a 1970‘s phenomenon enter John Inverdale and his offensive comments about Marion Bartoli after the ladies Wimbledon final and now we are expected to simply accept that the British Open Golf Championship, teed off at a male only golf resort, Muirfield. Am I alone in my disbelief, fury and despair that this level of sexism is still alive and kicking in 2013?

So why are the women in sport silent? I am not a keen sports enthusiast but even I am angry about the way women are completely marginalised, patronised and often ignored in the sports arena.

This week, The Sun, bless em! Invited several prominent women in sport to write an article on this sexism. Clare Balding, Gabby Logan, Judy Murray and Virginia Wade were amongst some of the women that said no thanks. In fact, The Sun could not find one women other than an MP to comment, Marie Miller, the Minister for culture, media, sport and women. A questionable job title in anyone’s book!

Why the silence ladies?

Are these women afraid of a backlash? Or are they simply trying to protect their delicate positions by becoming ‘one of the lads’. If they spoke up are they worried about losing their jobs and/or lucrative contracts? Well ladies, I will say what you feel you cannot or will not say…..

We are living in the 21st century. Equality at a basic level should be in the bag. Male only sports venues – are you kidding me? If this was a venue that excluded gay people or asians would we as a nation accept this too? I think not, there would be public outrage. We are not even a minority group, we represent 51% of the UK population!

Do you think a male, top executive in corporate UK would get away with making derogative, sexist remarks about a female colleague, in public and not be reprimanded for gross misconduct or in many cases sacked?

Do not tell me the battle is won. Don’t tell me it is OK because Sky Sports presenters are all pretty dolls; don’t tell me it’s not a big deal because women don’t really like sport anyway and don’t even suggest I am over reacting and it is all harmless fun. Our complicitness is putting us in reverse. We need to stay awake, alive to the cause and use our collective voice. There has never been a more important time to unite and Sisterhood needs to be back on the agenda if not for us, then for the next generation. If the women before us worked tirelessly to make it possible for us to sit around the top table the very least we can do is open our mouths when we get there!

So what do I want?

Inverdale needs to be sacked.

Someone needs to be answerable for Muirfield.

And women at the top in sport need to start talking.

Breath Jane, breath!

4 Comments on Warning – angry bird in the house!

  1. Anne Casey // August 5, 2013 at 6:20 pm // Reply

    You are so right Jane, we need to keep up the pressure by speaking out on what are patent injustices. Charlie Brooks in the Telegraph said: “For the sake of horse racing fans, let us hope she is unsuccessful” of Maria Miller’s attempt to have him sacked. Of course, horse racing fans cannot be deprived of his “professionalism” yet surely his comments were a complete lack of the same.

  2. karen birch // August 7, 2013 at 4:08 pm // Reply

    I hope that the women in question refused the request as it came from The Sun rather than because they were afraid of any backlash.
    But yes, we need to be fearless.

  3. Clare Logie // August 11, 2013 at 3:21 pm // Reply

    Jane, I can sense your rage and it’s not misplaced conceptually; however I would like to stick up for at least one of the women you berate here – Clare Balding. I think she has done a fantastic job of making comment on things she believes to be unacceptable, such as attacks on her own sexuality and appearance, whilst retaining a calm, intelligent and un- raging harpy attitude. I don’t think she steers away from these issues at all. Likewise on R5Live, Eleanor Oldroyd is often to be found picking up her male colleagues on unacceptable statements during commentary, interview or panel shows such as Fighting Talk. I don’t know about the others you mention, but I do feel it is a responsibility of Judy Murray, for example, to stick her neck out and say something as she is leading a team of young women. That seems to me to be more valuable for the country than her working on her own image with Simon Fuller (if reports are to be believed)… Like Karen, I suspect (and hope) it is an unwillingness to engage with such a ludicrous, hypocritical piece of gutter trash that is the Sun, rather than a weakness. And everyone should remember it was the Sun’s coverage of the Olympic 2012 females and concomitant pictures of bare breasts in the same paper that inspired Lucy Anne Holmes to start the ‘No More Page 3’ campaign, which I mentioned in 3rd i last year – sign the petition if you haven’t yet done it! http://nomorepage3.org

  4. Gerry Bunten // August 17, 2013 at 12:13 pm // Reply

    Where do you begin?? Of course there are still lots of inequalities that still need fixing. I am a man by the way. Equal pay is the first one that springs to mind. Having said that, women need to be careful not to go the other way and start “excluding” or belittling men from their sports or gyms or any other supposedly all female activities, such as Zumba or cooking or hairdressing, or nursing, etc. So equality is not as simple as you may think. I agree with you on all your points made though. If you want to ban page 3 then fine but you must also ban Playgirl or any women’s magazines that exploit male models. I know there are just a few in comparison to the men’s publications but they are still there. By the way I am not gay either not that I would have a problem if I was. I am afraid though there are still a lot of hyporcritical women out there. For example why is media attention not given to women having sex with underage boys??? or women who falsely accuse men of rape?? or women who actively and voluntarily participate in porn. These things are still going on, It happens and we don’t really hear much about it. Not that I am justifying any type of that behaviour from any person. However equality is equality, there can be no half measures. Do you still believe in doors being held open for women or being given a seat on a bus or train or paying for meals and drinks ??? You also mention the male executive not getting away with sexist remarks, but how many female executives get away with the same thing. In fact it is seen as something funny. So yes – all for women having equal rights but they must also tow the line otherwise it will never ever happen.

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