It’s been really great wandering around the blogosphere (hang on, MS spell check recognises ‘blogosphere’ as a word..?) during the World Cup.
I don’t follow league football, but I’ve always watched the international competition. I remember watching the World Cup in 1986 and having my tender, six-year-old heart broken by the Hand of God. I remember the Italians diving like an Olympic swimming team in 1990 and that penalty shoot-out in 1996. I’ve had my heart broken every two years since that moment in 1986.
Since moving away from home and onto the Internet, I’ve become used to being in a minority. My love of the beautiful game is something I’ve had to keep close and safe in a world that thinks it’s a pointless waste of time, an indicator of low-intelligence and backwards tribalism. Since the majority of the English-language Internet seems to be taken up by Americans, I was expecting a brief outpouring of scorn at ‘soccer’ followed by apathy. I’ve been pleasantly surprised. Lavie Tidhar (not an American, I know) wrote some World Cup fiction, Jeff VanderMeer instituted a kind of ‘World Cup of fiction’ to celebrate, and even Wil Wheaton is Tweeting about it.
This article was linked from Fark today: Why it’s okay for women to ogle the football players. Hey, even American pop-culture feminist site Jezeble is watching the World Cup!
The Fark thread was predicable: ‘Oh, right, so when women do it, it’s okay, but when men do it, it’s sexist… farking hypocrites.’
There is something wrong with that, and it’s only when I sat down and tried to comment on the thread that I managed to put into words.
The basses of -isms (sexism, racism, ageism, classism, etc) isn’t, ‘person x is treated different from person y in the same situation’. It’s, ‘person x in a position of privilege unfairly exerts that privilege over person y’.
In the meta Western society, men are in a position of privilege over women. Objectifying women is an assertion of that privilege–it’s yet another drop on the prayer wheel which says a woman’s value is determined by what other people think of her body. When women objectify men, they’re not exerting privilege, so it’s okay. As Jezeble points out:
“In our current universe, men do not have trouble being taken seriously based on their looks or perceived sexiness, nor is their worth in society primarily judged by them… They will not be told their primary value is based on whether women want to fuck them. They will not be paid less on the dollar or subject to violence in representation or acts. They will not be treated like meat or chattel.”
In other situations, women objectifying men isn’t okay. In a female-dominated workplace when the women hold the privilege and agency, it’s not okay. They’re exerting their privilege. In a relationship when the woman holds all the power and agency, it’s not okay. They’re exerting their privilege over their partner. The partner is being told, ‘I’m only with you for your looks, and I can leave you if I ever find someone who I think looks better than you, and there’s nothing you can do about it’.
So anyway, England are playing Germany tomorrow. Our performances against the US, Algeria and Slovenia left a lot to be desired, so I’m not expecting much. It seems a little unfair that we’ve met German so soon. Germany always feels like the final game boss in our Championship campaigns.