It became so commonplace that she stopped noticing it

More bro culture and its hostility to women, from Gemma Clarke.

Football has a problem with women. It was there every day, in every training ground, every stadium and every press box I entered. The five years I spent working as a football journalist were so steadily and fiercely degrading, they very nearly destroyed me.

A good day meant being belittled, having my knowledge questioned, or my attire, or being complimented on the quality of the pastries at half-time because I stood too close to the catering table. A bad day meant being harassed, phoning a player for an interview to be told he was naked and intending to discuss a very different kind of performance.

I could try and recount all the times I was pressed up against or lunged at or spoken to or about with unbridled vulgarity but, after a while, it became so commonplace that I stopped noticing it. And therein lies the problem.

It’s appalling and it’s utterly commonplace. This isn’t right. It should not be routine and normal for women to be treated as contemptible underlings rudely keeping their own genitals out of the hands of the real human beings, men.

This is a world where normal rules appear not to apply, as the Ched Evans case demonstrates. In the regimented world of football, freedom is what happens in dark nightclubs and dim hotel rooms: freedom from coupledom, from fatherhood, from accountability.

Freedom for men, in short. Men only. Not women.

Locker-room banter is boardroom banter is press box banter is standard banter in every corner and corridor of every institution in the football world. Locker rooms should not be safe spaces in which sexism and misogyny are free to exist. Discrimination of any form should be challenged.

It should. That’s a big job. We may be some time.

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