Australia’s national women’s soccer team – hotly tipped for a medal at the Rio Olympics – has been thrashed 7-0 by a team of under-15-year-old boys.
Students at Yale University have petitioned their English Department for a change of curriculum. They want fewer “white male authors” and more contributions by “women, people of color and queer folk”.
Does anyone want to hazard a guess as to why I’ve linked these two stories?
Yes, that’s right. It’s because I am sexist, racist, homophobic pig.
Also, because I am a shameless elitist.
I actually believe that whether you’re talking international sport or you’re talking about literature then it is quality – not how many gender or diversity boxes it ticks – that should be the criterion that counts.
What this means, in practice, is acknowledging that Shakespeare is better than Maya Angelou, English literature is better than Nigerian literature, Pride and Prejudice is better than Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Paradise Lost by straight dead white male John Milton is better than anything by lesbian Poet Laureate Carole Ann Duffy (or indeed, probably, by any other lesbian poet in history, ever, including Sappho) and that all women’s sport (apart from showjumping, the only one where girls can compete with boys on equal terms; and possibly women’s beach volleyball) is basically a waste of space.
This doesn’t mean, as far as sport goes, that women should be discouraged from playing it. On the contrary, anything that gets women out of the designer shoe and handbag emporia, away from internet victims’ groups and onto the playing fields where they can work off the rage, bitterness, and insecurity which would otherwise be vented against men has got to be a good thing.
Plus, if any of our daughters were to become a top international sporting champion (which by the sounds of it is pretty easy, if you choose something like football: you just need to shift a spherical object vaguely in the right direction with your foot, taking care to avoid any 15-year old boys) then obviously it would be fantastic news because they’d probably make enough to pay for their own weddings instead of asking their impoverished, long-suffering parents to stump up.
That apart, though, there really isn’t much to be said for women’s sport. As a hobby, yes. But not as a thing to be taken seriously at an international level. Not even tennis where, frankly, they grunt very unattractively, the rallies go on for way too long, and the hottest looking ones almost never make it to the highest levels.