Friday, September 10, 2010

Time to kick sexism out of football | Beatrix Campbell | Comment is free | The Guardian

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Excellent piece about sexism, racism, football, Rooney, Ferguson...

Time to kick sexism out of football Beatrix Campbell Comment is free The Guardian

Football has dealt with racism on the terraces, but still ignores sexism among the players

The News of the World devoted its first five pages today to yet another sleazy story about a footballer's private life (sordid allegations about
Wayne Rooney this time). But for all the sound and fury, footballers' misogyny is apparently sanctioned. When footballers sexually exploit women, go to lap dancing clubs, buy sex or "harvest" local girls to line them up for shagging parties, it still doesn't count, somehow, as sexism. It attracts only a fatalistic sigh; a notion that there's nothing you can do about young men with more money than sense – often shadowed by a kind of class contempt that these working-class heroes can't cope with the ludicrous wealth that people who are born to rule somehow manage instinctively.

The campaign against
racism – once routine, embedded and sanctioned in football – has been a triumph. What was once regarded as ungovernable and inevitable in popular culture has been transformed – football's governing bodies have been forced to confront it. Now, clubs, players and fans all know what racism is, what it does and why it won't be tolerated. Everyone has been enlightened, and football culture has been redeemed. Why then does sexism – an equivalently embedded culture of contempt – attract so little interest, so little comprehension? Why does anti-sexism carry no commitment or confidence in football?

Footballers' ridiculous and indefensible earnings apparently generate a sense of masculine entitlement. And there's nothing in the club culture that challenges that: managers don't engage with players about what sexism is, or why it is unacceptable, nor do they take responsibility for helping these young men "not to be sexist and not to behave like a pillock", as one Man U fan put it.

Clubs do not, it seems, include sexism, sexual exploitation and sexual betrayal in the portfolio of their duty to care. They certainly don't see it as part of their duty of care to the game itself. It is as if blokes cannot be blamed for blokey bad behaviour.

But racism was once an ingredient of popular culture, too: racism and sexism were the vernacular of sport talk. Now racism has lost its legitimacy. Fans explain that booing the black players in the other team lost its logic when black players acquired critical mass, when all the great teams hired black players. Mark Perryman, the convener of the London England Fans supporters' group, reckons that the anti-racism is fragile, but agrees that it became nonsensical with the rise of black players.

Perryman does see some cultural shuffles around sexism, however. Ashley Cole lost his allure not because of his performance as a player but because of his performance as a man, he says: "Cole was very rich, very bling, but he became one of the most unpopular players in England because of his treatment of Cheryl Cole."

Sexism may not yet be recognised for what it is, but something about masculine attitudes to morality is shifting on the terraces. Men taking their kids to the game don't want them to hear the c-word any more than they want to hear the n-word.

But if there is a critique of sordid, cheating, whoring sexism, then it isn't coming from the places with the institutional power to do something about it: club management.

When Sir Alex Ferguson was asked at a press conference to comment on the
scandal involving an estimated 30 Manchester United players whose Christmas 2007 bash resulted in allegations of rape and "roasting", he said he had nothing to say about it, except that he'd been "dealing with situations like this for 21 years. I know exactly what to do." He fined the players – who included Rooney – and ruled that the next Christmas knees-up would be a family affair. The club announced: "He doesn't expect them to be virtual saints but he puts a lot of store in them involving partners, and knows it will keep them all on the straight and narrow."

The fact is, Ferguson doesn't know what to do. He refuses to know: "I will not be guided or instructed by anyone," he said after the Christmas bash. And so he continues to rely on the Wags to sort out a cultural crisis that he won't confront.

Promoting re-use with award-winning art by local artist and designer

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A local reclamation company are working to raise the profile of re-use. They have started working with award-winning Bristol artist Claire Danthois who re-uses reclaimed materials in her designs. See

Bristol's Claire Danthois is at the forefront of the sustainable design movement and expresses her personal belief in environmental responsibility through the creation of provocative, functional sculptures built exclusively from reclaimed materials. Danthois’ philosophy is rooted in the belief that the former lives of found objects provide a rich context and an intrinsic beauty that enhances her work.

Finding inspiration in human anatomy and the natural world, Claire began working with metals during her time at Plymouth University, shaping furniture into organic forms, using steel rods. This experience fuelled Claire’s further exploration in building three-dimensional forms, ultimately resulting in her reclaimed timber series titled "Once Discarded"(see pictures). Danthois first gained recognition in 2007 for the "Once Discarded" collection; the "Once a Door" chair in particular was awarded first place in British newspaper The Guardian’s "Top 10 Eco Furniture" article and METRO Home magazine named it one of "Finest Recycled" designs of the year.

Claire’s works have been displayed primarily in London, at the Eco Design Fair, New Designers Fair and The Islington Contemporary Art Fair, to name a few. In late 2007, Claire’s award-wining piece, "Once a Door", was exhibited at the Utterubbish SIT UP [re]Design in Singapore. A recent project was a collaboration with Newton Vineyard entitled "Re-Inspired Elements: A Tasting Installation."
Robert Mills Ltd is one of the largest suppliers of architectural and decorative antiques and is one of the original reclamation companies in the UK. In partnership with Robert Mills Architectural Antiques, Claire is currently producing custom commissions of her award-winning "Once a Door" chairs. In the coming year Claire aims to create a series of public art pieces in partnership with communities that share her hope for a more sustainable future.