WHEN SEX­ISM IS THE NAME OF THE GAME

Cape Times - - OPINION - MARK KEO­HANE

Ghalib’s life was his mes­sage. One of his most pop­u­lar and per­cep­tive cou­plets is about the de­sires and greed of hu­mans:

“Haazaron khwaishe aise ki har khwaish par dam nikle

“bahut nikle mere ar­maan lekin phir bhi kam nikle.”

“My wishes are in thou­sands, and each wish is worth dy­ing for; I got most of what I de­sired, but still de­sired more.”

The deep phi­los­o­phy de­picted through Ghalib’s cre­ations is ever rel­e­vant.

His in­stinc­tive un­der­stand­ing of hu­man na­ture and the abil­ity to ob­serve it as if from a higher state of con­scious­ness made his po­etry both rich and lay­ered.

And the fac­ulty to present such ethe­real thoughts in a sim­ple and com­pre­hen­si­ble lan­guage made him hu­man.

While we hu­mans are busy push­ing fel­low crea­tures, plants and an­i­mals on this planet to the brink of ex­tinc­tion, one cou­plet from Ghalib ren­ders a crit­i­cal as­sault on the un­re­strained and un­fet­tered con­sumerism of our times.

“Chand tasvir-ae-bu­tan, chand hasino ke kha­toot, “Baad marne ke mere ghar se yeh saa­man nikla.”

“A few pic­tures of the beloved, a few let­ters of the beau­ties; these were the items I left be­hind when I died.”

Shukla is the In­dian Con­sul Gen­eral in Cape Town FRANCES Silva, a re­tired pro­fes­sional foot­baller, tweeted: (sic) “Imag­ine win­ning the first ever women’s Bal­lon d’Or. Then giv­ing an un­be­liev­able speech about how big this is for women’s foot­ball. Then ask­ing lit­tle girls to be­lieve in them­selves. Then be­ing asked to tw­erk. [email protected]#k off dude…”

The dude in ques­tion is French DJ and ra­dio host Mar­tin Solveig – and de­spite all his protests of mis­in­ter­pre­ta­tion and hu­mour, he can in­deed f*** off. Sport, as with so­ci­ety, has no place for the lack of re­spect shown to Ada Hegerberg at the Bal­lon d’Or awards.

Hegerberg, the scorer of 250 goals at just 23, in her his­tory-mak­ing mo­ment of tri­umph as the in­au­gu­ral women’s Bal­lon d’Or win­ner, had to be sub­jected to such prej­u­dice, sex­ism and in­ap­pro­pri­ate crass­ness.

It was de­plorable and an­other re­minder of just how sex­ist the man’s world of sport still gets so proudly and pub­licly pa­raded. It sim­ply can’t be ex­cused or tol­er­ated.

Former ten­nis world No 1 and three-time Grand Slam win­ner Andy Mur­ray was em­phatic in his dis­gust of Solveig and the shame­ful way Hegerberg’s finest mo­ment played out. “Why do women still have to put up with that s***?” he wrote on In­sta­gram. “What ques­tions did they ask (Kylian) Mbappe and (men’s win­ner Luka) Mo­dric? I’d imag­ine some­thing to do with foot­ball… and to every­one who thinks peo­ple are over­re­act­ing and it was just a joke… it wasn’t. I’ve been in­volved in sport my whole life and the level of sex­ism is un­real.”

West Indies crick­eter Chris Gayle got his (Aus­tralian) Big Bash T20 con­tract can­celled and was kicked out of the tour­na­ment for his sex­ist be­hav­iour when he in­vited tele­vi­sion com­men­ta­tor Mel McLaugh­lin out dur­ing a live in­ter­view and then told her “not to blush baby”.

Dis­turbingly, more than 50% of polls on so­cial me­dia felt Gayle had done noth­ing wrong. Equally, more than 50% felt McLaugh­lin had done the flirt­ing and “wanted it”.

The cringe-like and de­press­ing so­cial me­dia com­ments con­firmed the con­tin­ued strength in so­ci­ety of the Ne­an­derthal male nar­cis­sist.

The 2018 Soc­cer World Cup in Rus­sia was an­other re­minder of just how lit­tle so­ci­ety has pro­gressed in ac­knowl­edg­ing the equal­ity of a woman to a man and also of re­spect­ing this equal­ity in a pro­fes­sional work­ing en­vi­ron­ment.

Tele­vi­sion re­porter Ju­lia Guimaraes was sub­jected to a fan try­ing to kiss her while she did her live cross­ing. “Sad… shame­ful…” she tweeted. A pro­fes­sional col­league, Berlin-based Colom­bian jour­nal­ist Juli­eth Gon­za­lez Theran, was also groped and kissed by a man dur­ing a live cross­ing. No male re­porter gets in­sulted in such a way and no male soc­cer player gets asked to tw­erk when named the world’s best player.

Cos­mopoli­tan sur­veyed 2 235 full-time and part-time fe­male em­ploy­ees aged 18-34 and found that one in three women ex­pe­ri­enced sex­ual ha­rass­ment at work, yet only 29% were con­fi­dent enough to re­port the is­sue.

Sex­ual ha­rass­ment now passes in the guise of soft sex­ism or sim­ply as a “mis­un­der­stood joke”, to quote Solveig. It cer­tainly doesn’t help women’s soc­cer’s fight for equal­ity when Fifa ex-pres­i­dent Sepp Blat­ter goes pub­lic in say­ing that fe­male play­ers could have “tighter shorts” to help boost rat­ings.

It also does noth­ing to pound to pieces the on­go­ing prej­u­dice when the win­ners of the men’s soc­cer World Cup get 60% more than their fe­male equiv­a­lents.

Lo­cally, South Africa’s finest women’s play­ers were sub­jected to sim­i­lar hu­mil­i­a­tion. They were mag­nif­i­cent in mak­ing the fi­nal of the Africa Cup of Na­tions for Women, but the vit­riol on so­cial me­dia was ob­scene be­cause they dared ask to be re­warded in a sim­i­lar fash­ion to their male coun­ter­parts. To quote (Andy) Mur­ray, “why do women still have to put up with that s***?”

Keo­hane, a mul­ti­ple award-win­ning sports jour­nal­ist, is the head of sport at In­de­pen­dent Me­dia

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