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Dissecting the infantile opposition to women’s football

Look at the comments section of any tweet about women’s football from a popular outlet and you’ll see dozens of negative replies from men.

Some will say they “don’t care” about the story when they haven’t even bothered to read it, others will call all women’s football “terrible” without being asked and many will bring up a friendly that led to the US Women’s national team losing to FC Dallas U15s boys unprompted.

You’ll find these replies on posts regardless of what the story is about, and many of the men have wives and daughters, so why are they such loud opponents of women’s football?

Masculinity defined by anti-feminism

When coming across a story you have no interest about, the typical response is to give none at all. You don’t announce your disinterest in every news article published, so why can’t these men resist responding when it’s women’s football?

The answer is because their fragile masculinity is defined by their anti-feminism. They won’t respond to a story that doesn’t interest them, but women’s football needs to be denigrated, mostly to get validation from men who think the same as they do.

Misogyny is described as the ‘hatred, contempt or prejudice against women or girls which enforces sexism by punishing those who reject an inferior status for women and rewarding those who accept it.’

It’s why so many men respond badly to those vocally supporting successful women but enjoy those who criticise the game. A common saying is ‘you will never be criticised by someone who is doing more than you’, so jealously absolutely comes into it too.

They’ve never played professional football but criticise those who are, so the irony levels are off the chart. Trying to gain self-esteem from making negative comments about women’s football says a lot about internal fragility too, but the criticisms from these men don’t even make any sense.

‘Don’t care’, ‘It’s terrible’, ‘They lost to kids’

We’ve touched upon why men can’t resist commenting “don’t care” on stories about women’s football, but why do so many believe it’s necessary to compare it to the men’s game?

It’s an objective fact that the top-level of men’s football is superior in terms of finances, popularity and quality, but that shouldn’t be used as a critique. It’s actually a damning indictment of how few resources go towards women and a result of the 50-year ban on women’s football in 1921 when it was as popular as men’s football.

Professional male players are full-time footballers, but women often have second jobs. This means they can’t train every day like men, so the quality will naturally suffer. Some argue that clubs in the women’s game should generate more revenue to give women a better wage, but that’s impossible until broadcasters start investing – thankfully Sky Sports and BBC Sport finally are.

The third argument that gets brought up is the US women’s national team losing to teenage boys. What conveniently gets ignored is that the game was an exhibition match from 2017, played in a jovial atmosphere. But opponents use that one game as a way to suggest women’s football isn’t worth investing in.

Why do men hate Megan Rapinoe so much?

But not only do these men hate women’s football, they hate seeing women be successful in a sport once male-dominated. And they certainly hate seeing a woman use their platform to speak up about social issues.

Megan Rapinoe has won two World Cups with the US, three league titles at club level and won the 2019 Ballon d’Or. She’s the most recognisable face in women’s football and a loud voice on progressive issues which garners a lot of criticism.

Unsurprisingly, these men can’t stand seeing Rapinoe attached to an article and all respond the same way. They’ll say ‘can’t stand her’ or ‘always seeking attention’ when she speaks for those silenced in society, mostly because her views don’t align with theirs.

It’s also because they don’t believe women should be seen and heard in our society. They don’t like coming to terms with the idea of a patriarchy and marginalisation because their own gender has never held them back, so Rapinoe’s presence is a threat to the status quo and makes them angry.

But whether or not they’re on board, women’s football will continue to grow and they’ll have to come to terms with it.

My message to the ‘nobody cares’ crew

I know you’re in denial and feeling fragile, but please can you stop denigrating the women’s game at every opportunity? The FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2019 was watched by 1.12 billion viewers, so it’s clear there’s a lot of interest.

If you don’t care about women playing football, that’s your free will. But we don’t need to know about it. Just keep quiet and stop making comment sections a toxic atmosphere.

The only people that validate your negativity are other men who apparently don’t care about the thing they can’t resist talking about either, so perhaps you should trade insults about women’s football via text while the rest of us actually support women.

On Monday, it was reported that Sky Sports agreed a three-year deal that allows them to broadcast at least 35 Women’s Super League fixtures from the 2021/22 campaign, so now watch the game improve in all facets.

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