Saturday, 29 January 2011

A man's world?

Centre of a scandal ... Sian Massey
Hidden away in a Sky Sports studio, two men have a private conversation. It's a casual bit of banter between two mates, but unbeknown to them their every word is being recorded. The tape lands into the hands of the tabloids and a scandal is born... a scandal which will ultimately cost both men their lucrative careers.

Andy Gray would undoubtedly have kept his mouth taped shut had he known his comments to colleague Richard Keys would escalate into one of the biggest sexism rows of recent years. Probably only because the scandal got him axed from his cushy job as a pundit for Sky. Because there's no hiding the nonchalent way in which he speaks on that audio clip... those were the kind of throwaway comments he would make any day of the week. And he meant them.

Despite the outrage sparked by the pair's jibes, their behaviour really isn't surprising. In the world of sport, along with as most other male-dominated industries, casual sexism is commonplace. The only thing separating Gray from his pundit counterparts is the fact he was caught red-handed.

Undoubtedly there will be hordes of other sports presenters and commentators quaking in their boots - wondering if a camera was still rolling or a microphone had been left on the last time they joked about a woman's bra size. Terrified they'll be next in the firing line. Because although Gray opened a sizeable can of worms, he certainly isn't solely to blame. Others have laughed along with him and engaged in his sexist banter. The issue here is that, despite strong measures to stamp out sexism in the sporting world - and every other workplace for that matter - there are still large numbers of prehistoric creatures who think a woman's place is to look pretty, keep quiet and remain chained to the kitchen sink.

These misogynists' tiny minds are only capable of judging women on their looks rather than their professional capability. Never mind Sian Massey's exceptional achievement of becoming a premiership lineswoman at the tender age of 25. Not to mention that Karren Brady's talents landed her the role of MD at Birmingham City FC aged only 23. And let's ignore research showing females perform better in exams and have a stronger ability to multi-task in the workplace. 

It's about time these chauvinists looked beyond their own egos and at the bigger picture. Yes, there are more bimbos than you could shake a Laboutin at whose sole ambitions are to star on Page 3 and become a WAG. But there are a hell of a lot of other ladies who have much to bring to the boardroom. Yet these hard-working, successful women are often forced to prove their worth by slaving in the office whilst their male counterparts puff on cigars and back-slap each other in the lapdancing club.

The truth is, sexism is part of our everyday lives. It's ingrained into society. You need only scan a magazine news stand, watch a TV advert or Hollywood film to see how women are represented as either a sex object, a housewife, a victim - or, worse still, all three put together.

Women have a big battle on their hands. Because sadly, until society views women and men as equals, dinosaurs like Andy Gray will always be allowed to roam the planet freely. 

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