Women in Football

Unfortunately our Lionesses were knocked out last night in the Euro semi-finals by the Netherlands. But regardless of that ‘failure’, they still reached their second semi-final in three years. They should be proud of this. We all should be.

“If the men’s team were doing this well, they’d have changed the name of our currency to Raheem Sterling.”

But our country should also be ashamed. Ashamed of the state football is in today, the inequality and the large sum of unsustainable money in the game.

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Over a hundred years ago we invented the glorious game, but in 1921 the FA banned football for women. A couple of weeks back Clare Balding hosted a great programme on Channel 4 – ‘When Football Banned Women’ . If you’re into football and or a feminist, get it watched.

During and after WWI women’s football was very popular but then all of a sudden they were banned from playing the sport for a whole 50 years because fuddy duddy men in the FA did not want women getting paid for playing football. Outrageous!

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As much as women’s football is now legal, the game is still far from being equal. Just this week Neymar was sold to PSG for a record breaking £200mil, he’ll be earning £782k a week! Compare this to the highest paid female footballer, Steph Houghton who earns roughly £60k a year… again… outrageous!

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In Clare’s documentary she visited a girl’s team, when asked who their heroes and heroines were they replied Stevie G, Jagielka, Joe Hart etc. Not very many heroines, and why would there be? Women’s football gets very little coverage. The past few weeks the Euro’s have been taking place in the Netherlands, I’ve seen very little of the tournament on the back pages of newspapers, I’ve not seen one St George’s flag in a super market, or dangling off people’s car. How can the future stars of England’s women’s team have a heroine role model when the media don’t cover their game?

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The FA have set a target for 2020 to double the number of women and girls playing football, they have also been running a girl’s football week (16th July – 6th August) with the aim to raise the sport’s profile. It would be great to see at the next women’s World Cup held in France a bigger hype, helping improve equality and respect in the sport.

Good luck to all working to achieve that, and chin up Lionesses! x

May and June Book Review

It has been over two months since my last book review. Following on from #GIRLBOSS I’ve continued with the feminism theme…

Handmaid’s Tale

Written by Margaret Atwood, this book was chosen by Emma Watson’s feminist Good Read‘s book club, Our Shared Shelf, as the May read. The book has also recently been turned into a TV series staring Elizabeth Moss (currently on channel4).

Set in an alternative USA dystopian future, Handmaid’s Tale explores a scenario where the population is declining and the ability to reproduce is super sacred. The elite class in this future society employee Handmaid’s (fertile women) to get pregnant, give birth, and then hand over their child.

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The book is deep. And in today’s society with Trump in power, it really makes you think. The women in this book are forced to give up their identity, their power, their families to procreate for a higher class. Maybe not a book to read by the pool this summer, but definitely worth a read. Both the book and TV series I give a 5/5.

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Mad Love

On the other hand, Mad Love by Nick Spalding is definitely a book to read by the pool. I’d classify this book as ‘chick-lit’. Not the best written, however certain parts were very funny.

The book is about a dating website that match up two people, that have never met before, to get married. You can probably see where it leads… they don’t get on, they do get on, they hate each other, they live happily ever after…

If you want an easy read, this is most certainly that. I give it 2/5.

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We Should All Be Feminists

My amazing friend Antoinette bought me this book as a present. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, a Nigerian writer, puts a very funny spin on the truth about 21st century female discrimination. I give it a 5/5. Here are some of my favourite quotes:

“We spend too much time teaching girls to worry about what boys think of them. But the reverse is not the case. We don’t teach boys to care about being likable. We spend too much time telling girls that they cannot be angry or aggressive or tough, which is bad enough, but then we turn around and either praise or excuse men for the same reasons. All over the world, there are so many magazine articles and books telling women what to do, how to be and not to be, in order to attract or please men. There are far fewer guides for men about pleasing women.”

“A woman at a certain age who is unmarried, our society teaches her to see it as a deep personal failure. And a man, after a certain age isn’t married, we just think he hasn’t come around to making his pick.”

“And then we do a much greater disservice to girls, because we raise them to cater to the fragile egos of males. We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller. We say to girls: You can have ambition, but not too much. You should aim to be successful but not too successful, otherwise you will threaten the man. If you are the breadwinner in your relationship with a man, pretend that you are not, especially in public, otherwise you will emasculate him.” 

“The sad truth of the matter is that when it comes to appearance, we start off with men as the standard, as the norm. Many of us think that the less feminine a woman appears, the more likely she is to be taken seriously. A man going to a business meeting doesn’t wonder about being taken seriously based on what he is wearing—but a woman does.” 

“There are slightly more women than men in the world—52 percent of the world’s population is female—but most of the positions of power and prestige are occupied by men.” 

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Harry Potter

Monday marked 20 years since Philosopher’s Stone was published and I genuinely cannot believe it!

Harry Potter has been such a huge part of my life. My Gran bought me the first book for Christmas back in 1997 (I was just 7 years old!). Every summer holidays I would read the whole series in wait for the latest book release (that agonising queue at Waterstone’s in Durham). The last time I read all 7 books was 8 years ago.

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Yesterday in honour of the 20th anniversary I once again opened the first book, and will continue to reread all 7 of them this summer. It just never ever gets old. And with J.K Rowling being a super feminist, it seemed fitting that these books were included in this post. I rate all 7 books a 10/5!

“I’ve got two daughters who will have to make their way in this skinny-obsessed world, and it worries me, because I don’t want them to be empty-headed, self-obsessed, emaciated clones; I’d rather they were independent, interesting, idealistic, kind, opinionated, original, funny – a thousand things, before ‘thin.’ And frankly, I’d rather they didn’t give a gust of stinking chihuahua flatulence whether the woman standing next to them has fleshier knees than they do. Let my girls be Hermiones, rather than Pansy Parkinsons.”

Be Bold For Change – International Women’s Day

Tomorrow is International Women’s Day. A day to celebrate the past, present and future achievements of women, and a day to remember how far equality has still yet to come.

I celebrate the fact that ever since I was little I have always believed that whatever a man can do, I can also do. Whether that be playing football, decorating a wall, drinking beer, wearing brogues, getting a good job, carrying heavy bags, travelling the world or paying bills. These things have been instilled into me by both the women and men around me growing up. And for that I am very very thankful.

As much as equality has come so far, especially in the UK, many girls and women today still do not have that support or opportunity. The things I take for granted are a millions miles from reality for some.

For some the ability to choose who to marry, have a vote, have a child or not, get an education, earn a decent wage, learn to drive, speak openly or wear what they want is unheard of.

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Even in the UK many women do not have the same job prospects or the same pay as men. Despite having a female Prime-Minister women are not always taken as seriously for fear ’emotion’ will get in the way. Heels, make-up and skirts are expected to be worn. Pressure is still given around marriage and having children.

International Women’s Day is asking us all to #BeBoldForChange. On their site you can vote for how you will take action. I decided to forge women’s advancements and pledge to:

  • buy from companies that support women
  • support or back a woman-owned business
  • invite women into situations where they’re not already present or contributing
  • measure and report on gender parity gaps and keep gender on the agenda

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Go ahead and make your pledge and Be Bold For Change.