Confessions of a Female Sports Fan

Being a fan of sports is amazing. Unless you are female, then there are centuries old social rules which are stacked completely against you. Even worse, trying to write or podcast about sports shines a light on the societal beliefs which exceed stereotypes and elicit such shocking levels of hate and abuse. Despite many other women telling me that women simply need to insert themselves in order to affect change in regards to sexism in football, I don't know a lot of women who would be willing to put up with what I have for nearly ten years now just to blog and podcast about my favorite team. And I know zero men who would put up with it, either, or even understand the deficit my gender creates for me before I even open up my laptop.

Female fans often stand alone, metaphorically

After reading about this experiment on Twitter, a male friend agreed to try a couple of experiments of our own. First, we each tweeted the same tweet within 15 minutes of each other, (ladies first.) Despite many mutual followers, and although I actually had more followers than him, he got more than double the interactions. 

Another experiment involved him tweeting my exact words, a joke about a subject I was commonly abused for. His tweet got at least ten times the reactions of my average tweet. My words, his account.

My male peers are treated differently than me.

If you weren't being sexist then, you certainly are now

I also conducted a couple of experiments of my own: once, I wrote a post in my own voice, but with a male pseudonym, saying it was a guest post. I got double the pageviews of my average, as well as a completely different reaction in the comments and on Twitter. 

Earlier this year, on Twitter, I used exclusively female memes and gifs for three months. I lost 100 followers. As soon as I used primarily male or gender neutral images again, my followers went back up.

I am treated differently than my male peers.

More followers, less interactions? Must be a whore.

Then there are the infamous "twenty questions." Whether people slide up into my DM's or even those I have invited to be on my podcast, they all ask the same, non-football-related questions: "How old are you?" "What do you look like?" "Can I have your number?" All the way to "What is your bra size?" As a woman, when I am not being abused, I am constantly hit on. When I don't return the interest, then I am either ignored completely or abused.

This does not happen to my male peers.

The irony is that the second guy did and continues to do exactly what the first said

Men are very concerned with what I look like, always begging for pictures or asking me for an Instagram or Facebook account. Many have harassed me or publicly complained that I don't have my picture as my avatar, something that is intentional for safety and as an attempt to avoid gender bias. Over the years, when I have checked the stats on my blog, many times I have seen that people have searched for "nude pictures of Elaine."

This does not happen to my male peers.

Actually, a number of people have met me, just not those who would ever publicly attack me

Speaking of pictures, I have received a number of unsolicited pictures of male genitalia over the years. Dick pics. Men have told me that my voice is "sexy" or that it's "working for me" on my podcast, or that they get turned on by it or even masturbate to my podcast. Many have told me that simply messaging me or having a conversation with them turns them on.

This does not happen to my male peers.

If you call it coochie, you'll never get any

In a male dominated world of sports, I am constantly exposed to sexualized or explicit pictures and conversations about women in my timeline. Most often from married men, ironically. I am always told "boys will be boys." No. The Neanderthal Period ended 30,000 years ago. It is no longer acceptable to sexualize women.

This (I'm told unfortunately) does not happen to my male peers.

Do you see them as fans or sex objects?

One unfortunate thing about social media is that what people say about you says more than anything you say yourself. This is particularly true as a female in a predominately male environment. One tweet can negate thousands of blogposts or hundreds of podcasts, representing countless hours of work. I find this happens to me on a regular basis, with people tweeting, subtweeting, and generally gossiping about me, even six or more years after I have had any interactions with them.

This rarely ever happens to my male content producing peers.

Six years later, I don't even remember you, but you are still gossiping about me

One of the best ways to spot a misogynist is when they say "I'm not sexist." This, despite the fact that their timeline indicates that they are indeed very sexist. I have had many experiences with "not-sexists" who respond completely different to me or other women than they do the males they interact with. Whether it be abusive, condescending, flirting, or any other form, these men treat women entirely different than men. Even those who follow a disproportionate amount of females to males on social media and insist that they have "many female friends" are actually sexists. They do not need to threaten or stalk or abuse women to treat women differently based on gender, which is the very definition of sexism.

Many men treat women much differently than men.

Advantageous birth

One thing I find that males particularly seem to enjoy is telling me what my opinion is. Or abusing me when I do not share their opinion. Often, they will then project this back onto me, saying that I am the one who refuses to accept a difference of opinion. This is one of the most common things that happens to me. One such instance led to one man stalking me and repeatedly hacking or attempting to hack into my blog over the course of six and a half years.

My male peers are allowed their own opinions and do not have stalkers.

Sure, let's trust the person gossiping like a schoolgirl about someone they know nothing about

Some of my most extreme experiences involve rape and death threats to me and my children. Men repeatedly tell me "It's just Twitter," but those men have never feared for their safety or had to file police reports because of "just Twitter." They also do not understand that what limited support Twitter offers women against abuse is based on blocking and reporting. Screenshotting convos, blocking, and reporting has taken up countless hours of my time. Yet men constantly gossip, harass, and abuse me for taking these precautions to try to ensure the safety of myself and my family.

None of this has ever happened to any of the male peers I know.

Not even ashamed

I have thousands of screencaps. I have a block list on Twitter consisting of hundreds of accounts. They are not all from sexists, some of them are just from horrible human beings. But I also have police reports, dick pics, and so very much more. Those things are absolutely exclusive to my gender. All for simply wanting to share my love of football and AC Milan. I see my male peers complain when someone says something mean to them or challenges their opinion, and I get it. It sucks when people are being mean. It sucks so much worse when people are sexist. As a woman, I work ten times harder to gain any respect for my work.

These experiences are not even comprehensible to my male peers.

Sliding up in my DMs and getting blocked, claiming to know more about my marital status than me, but hey,  don't take it personally

I created this blog, my podcast, and built my following on Twitter with my own sweat and blood and much abuse. Many of my male peers rely on existing blogs or podcasts or followings that others have built. I do not tag people in my tweets or beg for retweets like so many men I know do. But I have consistently promoted, encouraged, retweeted, and had males be guests on my podcast who are fellow content producers, despite the fact that so many of them do not do the same for me. Of course, some of those same people do regularly promote and share content from their male peers.

I do not receive the same level of support as my male peers.

The players thank all fans, regardless of gender

Women must be punished for speaking out. Women must be punished for speaking. Women must not speak. The idea that we must scream your name during sex or ask you if you want another beer, yet have no claim to speech outside of those events does a disservice to both genders. We can do those things for anyone. What is to stop us from finding someone else who actually provides us with the motivation, as well as the respect, outside of those two minutes per day? Why would we do those things for any man when we can do so very much more?

I am not a feminist. I do not believe in quotas, I do not believe in asking for favors because I belong to the "lesser" gender. I do not believe that men and women are equal. We have our differences. But I do believe that we deserve equal respect. Differences are not wrong. They add interest and diversity to our world and make all of us better human beings.

I really need to make this my profile

I am a woman. A passionate, football-loving, outspoken woman. I am not afraid to call out poor character from organizations, teams, players, or fans. I am willing to state unpopular opinions when others cower behind complacency. I understand that some people will take offense to some of those things, and I accept that some will abuse for my opinions alone, regardless of gender. 

What I don't understand is why so many males take such offense to the first part. The obsessive need men have to try to dominate and control women affects women all over the world every single day. As a woman, I am also a person. A human being who deserves the same respect as other human beings, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or any other classification. Differences should never be punished. We are all better when we celebrate differences, when we seek to understand one another. Not as male sports fans. Not as female sports fans. Just as sports fans.

All of the screencaps in this post are from the 200+ screencaps from Twitter that I took within one single 48 hour period earlier this year. They are also all from fellow Milan fans, not rivals. There are thousands more where these came from, some more innocuous, others requiring Twitter and law enforcement interventions. 

This post inspired by 9.5 years of blogging and tweeting, as well as 7.5 years of podcasting about AC Milan

Confessions of a Female Sports Fan Confessions of a Female Sports Fan Reviewed by Elaine on 1:19 AM Rating: 5
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