Time to show the red card to all this football hysteria

Posted on February 3, 2011

Guess what? I not only haven’t a clue what the offside rule is in soccer, but I also could not care less.

I do care that the sport is so obscene that footballers are sold for £50 million when so many people in this country are losing jobs and living on or below the breadline.

I don’t even know the names of the two Sky TV presenters who were either sacked or who resigned for making sexist remarks, and I don’t care enough to look it up.

Last week I told you how much technology had changed in my lifetime. Now, as I approach 61, the events of this week have made me think about how life has changed for women – and it has!

I’m not sure if it is true or not, but when I started work as a young journalist in South Africa in 1969, I was told that only in journalism and among doctors were women equally paid.

That hasn’t always been the case in my lifetime either. I have since worked in companies where men were doing less of a job and getting paid more.

On one newspaper for which I worked, the chief sub-editor refused to have women in the subs’ table. It was not until the mid-80s, when he retired, that female subs were allowed.

I think I have mentioned before, too, how the arrival of trousers and trouser suits for women was not universally welcomed.

I was turned away from a cinema because I was wearing a rather expensive and extremely modern trouser suit. I was told that I could not enter unless I was wearing a skirt or dress.

That was in the late 1960s. It wasn’t in my grandmother’s time. It is so incredible how attitudes have changed.

In fact, the other day I was wearing a skirt and my youngest adopted grandson asked me what it was and demanded to know why I was wearing it. His mum, like me, spends most of her time in trousers.

I worked while my kids were little, but I was luckily able to work from home. When I did go full-time, it was always me who had to take a day off if the kids were sick or had a dental appointment or whatever. It did not even occur to either me or my husband that he should be the one to ring in sick.

At least I was able to have a husband. When I was little, many trainee nurses were not allowed to marry while they were training. I even know of one woman who was married but still had to stay in single nurses’ quarters.

Women didn’t go into pubs, or if they did they certainly didn’t go into the public bar. Lounge bars were where the “ladies” were found – and it was okay to call us ladies in those days.

You can imagine therefore how thinking women, like myself, welcomed Women’s Lib with open arms in the early 1970s.

Not quite.

To my shame and that of many of my peers, the Women’s Libbers were considered “too extreme and probably lesbian” – we didn’t have the word ‘gay’ then.

I at least embraced the theory – to a certain extent anyway – but I couldn’t be militant and I was NEVER going to burn my bra!

In the wake of Women’s Lib, “affirmative action” and “glass ceilings” became the buzz words.

Affirmative action used to worry me. Just as a man should not have got a job just because he was a man, neither should a woman get a post solely based on her gender.

Now, with hindsight, I can see that it might have been the only way to change attitudes and to give women a chance to prove what they could do at the time.

So, where are we today? Well, two male presenters have lost their jobs for making stupidly sexist remarks when they thought they were off air.

They really needed to be reprimanded and they really needed to apologise.

They were certainly fools; more to be pitied than punished. With their fat salaries, losing their jobs will not be as difficult as it is for most others who are losing theirs in these difficult economic times.

We need to keep a sense of perspective, however.

Sexual harassment of any type in any place, at any time, is completely unacceptable. A woman should be able to take any steps necessary to stop it.

But when a man is doing no more than making himself look an idiot, do we have to have the hysteria that we have seen over the past week?

Frankly, I have more things to worry about; like how we can get a football club to spend £50 million to help those in need?

*Posted on http://www.timesandstar.co.uk

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