Men are Fans but Women are Groupies?

International Women’s Day is marked  on March 8th every year.  It is a major day for the global celebration of women.  In different regions the focus ranges from a general celebration of respect, appreciation and love toward women, to a celebration of women’s social, economic and political achievements. 

I’ve been reading articles about the hardships that women face in many different parts of the world; the social, religious and economic oppression, as well as the physical abuse that calls itself “cultural tradition” – the mutilation of women’s genitals at the hands of their own families.   

I have  also just finished reading Portia de Rossi’s book Unbearable Lightness, about her struggles with anorexia and bulimia in an attempt to mold her already beautiful body into the form that was “acceptable” to the entertainment and fashion industry.   At her worst she weighed 82lbs – this is an adult woman – and yet was still being asked to do “fashion” spreads because she looked so good.  

Below  is a picture of Lara Flynn Boyle, also famous for being the “skinniest” actress of her time.   It’s horrific that anyone, anywhere, could find this attractive and not only encourage, but demand that women literally starve themselves to death to obtain this “perfect” look.  And so many people go along with the fiction that they are “just naturally skinny” and that these woman are not starving themselves to maintain this look.  Portia wrote  that she was eating under 300 calories a day to maintain her weight under 100lbs.  300 calories – that is a starvation diet.  

So where am I going with this little rant, and how does it relate to sports fans and groupies?   Women, and the men who choose to support them, can take up the cause for equality not only in the big issues, but also in the many small, culturally ingrained slights that we might not even notice.  Misogyny is defined in Wikipedia as

“. . .  a cultural attitude of hatred for females because they are female, it is a central part of sexist prejudice and ideology and, as such, is an important basis for the oppression of females in male-dominated societies. Misogyny is manifested in many different ways, from jokes to pornography to violence to the self-contempt women may be taught to feel for their own bodies”
One of the things I really enjoy doing is going to see live music.  I go because I love music and I love the excitement and drama of live concerts.  And as anyone who reads my blog knows, I go to a LOT of shows.  But that’s it, I go to shows, I dance, I  have a lot of fun, then I go home – alone.   Yet time and time and time again people say to me “Oh you are one of those groupies” and there is always a derogatory and sometimes faintly, but often overtly, sexual innuendo in that label, like I am doing something dirty and inappropriate.   And there is absolutely no basis for that innuendo, other than that I am a single woman who goes to listen to music.  
 
Yet a man who spends thousands and thousands of dollars to go and watch sporting events is never, ever called a groupie – they are a “fan”.  There is no derogatory sense or sexual innuendo in that word.  The NHL season is about 80 odd games.  So a season ticket holder would go to see about 40 hockey games, not including playoffs.  And while I usually have to listen to all sorts of “teasing” about traveling out-of-town with friends  to see a concert, no-one, that I’ve ever heard, questions when a group of men spends thousands of dollars on ONE ticket and travels to see the  Superbowl, or the US Open, or the Masters.  They are fans, I’m a groupie.
 
Do you see where I am going with this?  There is something profoundly one-sided in the equation.   Men can spend as much time and money on professional sports as they see fit, but as a woman I am continually having to defend my own personal choice to spend my own money, on my own time, to see rock concerts.  It’s misogynistic and I am quite willing to say that to anyone, man or woman, who ever calls me a groupie again.   It’s about fighting the small battles for respect and equality, as well as winning the big wars. 
 
So on International Women’s Day, let’s treat everyone as just, simply, a  person;  equal and equally entitled and carry that through not only to the big issues, but the many little ones that make up our daily lives.
 
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2 thoughts on “Men are Fans but Women are Groupies?

  1. Thanks Beth, I agree about the sports – haven’t had a game on in my house in almost 4 years! If that’s what people (men or women) want to do with their time and money, good for them. But it really bothers me that I take so much grief for going to concerts; I get comments like “how often can you see one band” to which I say “how often can you watch one hockey team”. No-one thinks that’s weird.

    And for sure we don’t have as many of the big issues that women in other countries face, but it doesn’t mean we don’t have to deal with more subtle discrimination and issues. Our daughters are not there yet . . but it’s closer all the time.

  2. Way to go, Hazel. That was a well-thought-out and well-written article. I personally think that men who spend that much money on sports are a little soft in the head. 😉 But, to each their own, right?

    I was thinking about International Women’s Day this evening and was seriously thinking that it’s not that bad here. But I you make an excellent point. There are still so many ways in which men and women are are not treated equally, even in western society. Double standards, sexual harassment, wage inequities, glass ceilings, fashion, and so much more. I am grateful I don’t have to worry about having my genitals mutilated or my feet bound. But we’re still not quite there, are we? I wonder if there is a society in this world that actually does treat women and men equally.

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