Section 8. The Corner. The loud area. Whatever you want to call that bleachered corner of Soccer Park, it’s home to the St. Louligans. All of the St. Louligans. We are an exceptionally inclusive and welcoming group to all people and communities. We pride ourselves on saying, “Racism doesn’t have a place here,” and, “We are LGBTQIA+ inclusive.” And we 10000% back that up. But what about sexism/misogyny?
Now I’m not talking about the blatant “Get back in the kitchen where you belong” or “Go make me a sandwich” comments that were directed more to past generations (although I bet every single female you ask has had one of those comments directed to them at least once in their life). I think every Louligan would become “Trokey-Unleashed ™” if such things were heard in The Corner. I’m talking about what we face today. It’s usually not outright and in your face. It’s a belief that women are only there to ogle the players, it’s the assumption that every girl/woman that walks by is on some sort of dating catwalk, it’s shock that females run large parts of Supporters Groups (if not the entire thing), and it’s the belief that women have no understanding (or less of an understanding than you) of the sport they’re viewing. Let me provide some examples.
A few years back, I was watching some STLFC pre-season action on a collegiate pitch – very up close and personal. As it was pre-season this was our first view of most of the roster, so we were excited to see what the new guys had to offer. One of the new players, a midfielder, made the most amazing slide tackle I’d seen, up close and in person. Of course I’d seen better on TV, but this was literally right in front of me, maybe 50 feet away. Impressive up close. I remember commenting on it to the person standing next to me and, instead of the analytic response I expected, I received a, “Woah girl, he’s not single.” Um…..WHAT? That’s…that’s not what I….oh nevermind. And as society has taught many of us (let’s not breach THAT subject here), I smiled and laughed and we moved on to another subject.
As most know, I run the St. Louligan Instagram account. But when telling new members, or even players, I occasionally get a shocked look. I’ve even had a person or two respond with, “Really?” Yes. Yes, really. Yes, a female can run a social media account for a supporters group in American soccer on her own. And I know these instances happen to all of us. Along the same line, a female friend of mine helps run a Premier League team’s official local Supporters Club, and in fact, their entire group is ran by women. Some people are shocked, stunned even, that women run it.
In my years on this planet, I’ve found myself in male-dominated groups or fields a time or two. I was on a very highly skilled, male-dominated drum line in high school, I was a Security Supervisor and ran an entire casino for over ten years, and now, I have a part in the St. Louligans. I’ve seen and experienced the underlying misogyny for years now, but I’ve learned how to either speak up or let it go (sometimes it’s not worth the argument). But we must remember we’re all ambassadors of the St. Louligans – ALL of us. Calling dibs on women that walk by probably isn’t going to be received well by the female ManU fan that decided to give STLFC a try and is standing right in front of you. Explaining what (you think) offside is to a woman that happens to be a Fire & Ice player who didn’t even ask isn’t helping our Supporters Group appear more forward-thinking than most. Assuming the new lady that showed up to Section 8 with her friends for their first game since graduating from SLU wants to date you and would welcome your advances in the middle of a strong drive toward the opposing team’s goal isn’t going to show them we’re a safe place they can hang. And for all that is holy, leave the creepy/sexual assault/roofie jokes at home. They are NOT welcome with us.
We, as women, must do better as well. Exclaiming “I want to climb player X like a tree” would be scoffed at if it came from the opposite sex. We must pay the same respect we demand back and, to be honest, we get that respect from the majority. Look, I’m not asking for a completely stagnant, sterile environment. Far from that, in fact. Every game, Louligans make new friends, chat with old friends, and even find love. We pride ourselves on being SiLLy and that must continue. Sometimes we even make it weird. I’m just asking that we be respectful of all people, no matter their status in any aspect of their life. Any race, any sexual orientation, any sex…even Chealsea fans. As my buddy Mark Regester says, don’t be a wolf in woke clothing.