Friday, 24 September 2010

On how rebellion against stereotypes maintains their power, with Football and Feelings

One of the more peculiar aspects of being a Person Who Talks About Gender, A Lot, is that you're almost constantly aware of how your actions/hobbies/opinions/abilities will be interpreted as representative of all ladies everywhere.

So on one level, I take a perverse delight in subverting people's expectations, because that thing guys do when they find out you like football (or any traditionally Masculine endeavour, but in this edition of A Romantic Comedy About The Patriarchy, we will mostly be focusing on football), do a double-take, and gaze at you like you're a magical unicorn hitherto assumed to be a myth - it's fucking hilarious. And any time you can disrupt people's ideas of What Girls Are Like can be an opportunity to chip away at the ridiculous structure of oppositional sexism, and that's always fun.

But it's actually pretty sad, because by positioning yourself as the Exceptional Girl, you are accepting that Girl Stuff is fundamentally uncool; the very concept of the Exceptional Girl is predicated on the idea that girls, as a rule, are boring, bitchy, annoying and frivolous, and I think there's a word for that.

1. Once upon a time, while discussing La Liga with his associates, my manpanion turned to me and explained that "El Clásico is when Real Madrid play Barcelona."

My actual response was "I KNOW, dickwad, remember how JUST THIS MORNING you saw me reading a book on the EXACT SUBJECT of rivalries in Spanish football? I have, in fact, many interesting thoughts to share about the interplay between nationalism and football fandom! Also on the way in which some clubs can be wildly successful and yet still maintain the 'underdog' narrative as a central part of their identity! ASK ME ABOUT THE NOMENCLATURE OF JOHAN CRUYFF’S SON!”

But what I should really have said was

“Oh really dear? Can you explain the offside rule to me again?”

2. Watching said manpanion play football, while knitting the welt of a jumper - the stereotypes play out beautifully; not only for the gender-segregated choice of leisure activities, but for my exemplary demonstration of Feminine Multi-Tasking (okay, you try knitting perfect 1x1 rib on skinny little needles while following the finer points of a seven-a-side match).

3. Cooking the manpanion dinner while he watches a game on telly. The details are a little fuzzy, but I'm willing to testify that I was wearing an apron.

Needless to say, I was also making exactly this expression.
So there I was, contentedly humming to myself while imagining the children I will doubtless be raising in the near future, when my domestic bliss was shattered by the thumpthumpthump of hurried feet, heralding the entrance of a discomfited manpanion. He needed me to save him. From a spider.


Consequently, whenever we watch Match of the Day with company, I am now amusing myself by demanding "Goddd, stop watching football, talk about my feelings, talk about your feelings, why aren't we married yet, I want a baby, FEELINGS."

Because sometimes the only way to smash gender stereotypes is to parody them to the point of Bridget Jones.

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