A society that always sits on a pedestal and speaks about moralistic values, often ignores the rights of women and encourages gender based violence. Sad, but true. And somewhere along the way, there is a sense of acceptance to this violence in the name of emotions, love etc.
We have given name to violence and even carefully framed our reasons to justify it. ‘Men will be men‘ – a wonderful tagline, often used to sell products as a marketing strategy, has become a well crafted marketing strategy to promote gender based violence, inflicted by the gendered heterosexual male on other communities.
Terms like ‘real men don’t cry’ or ‘don’t cry like a girl’ are often being used in our society to stop a boy child from exploring and expressing his emotions, because we have categorized certain behaviours for men and women. And when a man or a woman does not behave according to the categorization, it is met with resistance, only to maintain that order. We are not creating human beings in a man, we are creating a violent robot, a terminator, who will be willing to do anything to keep the order defined.
As I write this piece, several women will be raped, several more trafficked and molested, and many will be beaten up by their husbands or boyfriends because their favorite sports team or sport star did not perform well.
Men and their display of toxic masculinity goes hand in hand with sports.
We just finished the FIFA world cup season now and as soon as the season began, we saw several sports reporters molested, a few groped and am convinced there were a lot more that never made to the mainstream news media. It is toxic masculine culture that gives the right to a sports player to openly sexually objectify a sports reporter interviewing him. It is this behaviour that enables him to be blind to any other characteristics of that woman other than this ritualistic format of seeing her as an object of his desire.
That probably explains the concept of cheerleading in cricket. Obviously our nature does not just allow us to show our love for cricket by inducing self inflicting violence on each other in the name of a game but also some sexually objectifying commodity served to us as woman gives the men a bonus thing to add to.
And, where does this violence get directed when we face an outcome in a game we did not expect?
Reports indicate that the emotion of losing a game often is transformed as a method of violence against the women. According to a report, when England loses a match in football, domestic violence in the country increases from 56% to 70%. When a team loses a match the male fans often direct their emotion as an angry outburst towards the women. Most of the times when big sports tournaments are arranged, in parallel department brothels are also set up silently. Here the women from the exploited regions and communities are brought in for further exploitation.
Did you know that during the Brazil World Cup, according to several reports, prostitution doubled in the cities because the tourist often desired for women after the matches. She becomes the punching bag for the male ego which is taken out on her. This boosts the overall trade of sexual trafficking.
According to a report by The Independent (19th June 2018) the police in UK were preparing themselves for the sharp increase in domestic violence during the football world cup. Even in other local sporting events there is a massive surge in domestic violence when the home team loses. This also happens because often most of the sporting events are choreographed for the male viewers and male ego so when a home team loses this huge compiled ego of the male supporters needs to come out and hence they use physical violence, vandalism and sometimes sexual violence as an emotional outlet for themselves.
In a report published by NCBI in 2011 which uses police reports as a raw data states that there is a 10% increase in the rate of at-home violence by men on their wives when a shocking defeat comes for the home team in contrast to the expectation of their winning.
Coming to India, specifically Kolkata, where football is a core culture, this rampant sexism and misogyny is clearly visible in every household. Domestic violence erupts in every home regarding the viewership and often this ends with casual sexist jokes that men make on their wives. Every now and then we can hear someone in the street on phone with his friend or brother culture mate mocking his wife how he prefers to stay away from her. We regularly hear them and walk away but not once do we realize that this casual sexism that men often impart on their wives or girlfriends over sports, causes a chain reaction which leads to a global systematic oppression of women.
Why cannot we enjoy a game without taking it as a hyper masculine statement?
Let us enjoy the companionship of each other as football lovers instead of glorifying sexual objectification of women and mocking the female fans as just the cheerleaders for good looking footballers. Break the sexism and misogyny, and do not make football or any sport a mascot for domestic violence and sexual abuse.
Victor Chakraborty calls himself an Atheist, Feminist, Amateur Astronomy lover, football enthusiast and a bookworm. He works as a Youth Mobilizer in an organisation and loves teaching physics to children. He is passionate about women’s causes and stands up for them any chance he gets.