Howay the lasses
I am many things. A woman. A mother. A daughter. A sister. A student. An activist. A football fan. A domestic violence survivor. A rape survivor.
I am passionate about many things. My children, who I hope will become strong, independent women. Women's rights. Smashing the patriarchy. Crimes against women. Newcastle United. Rangers. Buying as many mad socks as I possibly can.
I was first taken to Ibrox as a tiny baby. It's a common sight up in Glasgow. Teeny weeny babies among the crowd. It's something that starts from the moment you are born. I can't remember my first trip to St James' Park. My dad took me, passed me over the heads of those in front of him at the Gallowgate and I sat at the front with other children while behind us a sea of Geordies roared on the toon.
Women at football, despite what Sky Sports would like us to believe, is not a new thing. I know many women who have been making that trip up to Strawberry place every other weekend for the majority of their lives. They are just as passionate as their male counterparts, just as knowledgable, just as loyal.
But women still experience immense sexism at the game. Chants of "get your tits out for the lads" are commonplace. There is one female official in professional football, Sian Massey, who I believe to be one of the best assistant referees in the game. She had to endure pathetic comments made by former Sky Sports presenters Richard Keys and Andy Grey, who were sacked after Andy Grey stated "Can you believe that? A female linesman. Women don’t know the offside rule.” Keys replied: “Course they don’t.” They also Wolf whistled at another Sky presenter Clare Tomlinson and directed that awful "get your tits out" chant to her. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/news/get-your-ts-out-for-the-lads-andy-gray-and-richard-keys-direct-sexist-chant-at-clare-tomlinson-in-new-footage-9098633.html
These are only limited examples of what goes on in football. It was no surprise when reactions to Ched Evans' rape conviction was met by declarations that the victim was a "slut", a "slag" and a "money grabbing tramp." What was horrifying was the sheer amount of abuse that this victim of rape received. Over 6000 tweets in the immediate hours after the conviction was announced. Since Ched Evans was jailed a constant stream of victim blaming has ensued, usually complete with derogatory sexist insults towards the victim from both men and women.
Now TV presenter Charlie Webber has become a target of some of these misogynists. Her crime? Being a lifelong Sheffield United fan and Patron of the club, a member of the Ministry of Justice's victims panel, an ambassador for Women's Aid and a sexual assault survivor. She has been the only person involved with Sheffield United to have stood up and give a clear response to the Ched Evans quandary.
Charlie Webster spoke to Radio 5 Live, her opinion being “You will have young people cheering him on when he scores a goal. Not under my name, under my club or community.” I cheered when I heard that! Someone actually say "No! This isn't right. We can't have an unremorseful convicted rapist representing our club!" after the men who represent the club, Kevin McCabe and James Phipps have fudged the issue, making no definitive statements on the re-signing of Evans.
Some Sheffield United fans have reacted to Charlie Webster's opinions with venom. She was targetted with tweets, including one from Ched Evans sister, Kylie, calling her a hypocrite as she had once tweeted she should have asked Mike Tyson for an autograph. Webster responded about that particular tweet "In hindsight, I’m not proud of that tweet but the response has been another unfortunate example of berating someone for speaking out against rape."
A quick Twitter search of Charlie Webster's name brings up the following tweets as some examples of the abuse being flung at her.
Can't stand Charlie Webster the hypocritical cunt
— Ryaaaaan (@ryryutb) October 24, 2014
@bbcthisweek Did that bird Charlie Webster make decent sandwiches for the blokes?
— Dave Turner (@cmdocker) October 23, 2014
Charlie Webster is a twat
— daniel (@fuckoffdanny) October 21, 2014
@bbcthisweek @CharlieCW She says 'I believe in rehabilitation ....' But if #ChedEvans gets a contract I am leaving !! What a vengeful bitch!
— marc (@barhamm) October 23, 2014
Now naked pictures of Charlie Webster have been circulated on social media. The Twitter user responsible for distributing the photos was immediately rebuked byl Sheffield United Co-chairman James D. Phipps who tweeted Webster an apology and promised to ban anyone involved in tweeting the photos from Brammall Lane football ground. The Twitter user subsequently deleted his account.
I totally agree with Charlie Webster's stance. Her Tyson tweet was stupid but we have all said stupid things that we later regret when we think them through properly. Charlie Webster is ensuring that the victim is not being forgotten in this media circus. She realises that in this furore a young girl has had her live irrevocably changed. Her concern is not whether an overpayed, over-entitled man puts a football in the back of a net, but how a young woman is coping with the continued pressure of living life as a rape survivor whose assailant is present in the media spotlight. And so I stand beside Charlie Webster, as a woman, as a sexual assault survivor, as a football fan, as a female who has received vile messages on social media for publicly supporting a rape victim. We cannot allow a rapist who hasn't learned his lesson back into football. We need to put victims before rapists!
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I as man stand beside Charlie Webster.
Exactly right! Charlie Webster is an intelligent young woman who has got her priorities right and she has my full support. Why are people still threatened by intelligent women like Charlie? It’s bad enough when these disgusting comments come from men but I can’t understand a woman defending a rapist’s rights over a victim.
Notice the women hating insults hurled at Ms. Webster. If these insults had been racist ones then police would have investigated but because pandemic male hatred of women continues not to be viewed by our wonderful Male Supremacist System as male hatred of females’ then men will continue with impunity to publicly state they hate women because women are female not male.
These insults are not ‘just words’ they are mens’ methods of maintaining male domination over all women and yes they do work because innumerable women are being silenced by male threats of violence and male vindictive insults.
Ms. Webster is a very, very brave woman because she has dared to challenge men and this in itself is why the menz are reacting so hysterically. I support Ms. Webster.
The issue is one of pandemic misogyny which means male hatred of women not ‘sexism.’ That term ‘sexism’ is useless because it can and is used by men to claim they experience ‘reverse sexism’ but misogyny cannot be reversed by the men. Misogyny exists as evidenced by those male initiated women hating tweets.
It’s the degree of hostility and anger directed at Charlie Webster and other women who dare to speak out about the behaviour of men towards women; rape, misogyny, violence against women that both chills and frightens. It reinforces “women have no idea how much men hate them” if I ever doubted this were true (I never doubted it) I lacked a real appreciation of how true it was and how deep their hatred runs. The language of these men is couched in gender specific terms and the threats carry implict or explicit threats of sexual violence with them. Even more troubling is that these men walk amongst us, they are husbands, fathers, brothers, sons, partners and work colleagues, reminiscent of the smile that does not reach the eyes.