Do You Even Like Football?

There is still a huge stigma attached to women in football culture, whether that’s players, fans or women in the industry. Although we have come so far in recent years, it’s still not where it needs to be.

‘Do You Even Like Football?’ is a photographic series aiming to expose everyday sexism and typical presumptions about women involved in football. Stemming from personal frustrations of being a lifelong football fan, who just so happens to be a woman, this series questions and challenges the way women are still slurred and underrepresented.

In 1921 women were banned from playing football in all FA grounds, the ban lasted for 50 years, which resulted in a huge setback for the women’s game. Even 30-40 years after the ban was lifted football wasn’t in many schools PE curriculum for girls, instead I was ridiculed by boys in the playground for being ‘a girl who likes football’ and even to this day some countries still don’t allow women to go and watch football games at stadiums.

Since working in a football environment remarks and sexist comments are something I have experienced on almost a daily basis. With “Do You Even Like Football?” being a common question asked whilst in the work place. By spending a number of months documenting these remarks made towards me, this project came to life. With particular focus coming from my perspective of being a female fan and the frustrations built up over a life time of supporting my local team, this project aims to bring down the stigma and raise the question of what does it really means to be a female fan today?

The series mainly documents official ‘girls’ merchandise on sale from Premier League clubs during the 2017/18 season, including a pink lace Tottenham branded underwear set, a West Ham branded wedding garter and a low cut and tight-fitting Manchester United replica shirt. Amongst this I have also documented other products marketed towards females, including a Barbie doll from the careers range who is wearing a tight-fitting kit accompanied by a matching pink ball. By portraying the objects as products, they have been stylised to be highly feminine and uber pink, looking more ‘appealing’ to the eye.

Part of the series is a direct response to the Sussex FA’s recent suggestions on increasing female participation in football. The suggestions are individually found to be degrading and shocking, which included using pink whistles, having Twitter breaks, using female friendly branding and colouring, wearing colourful and nice smelling bibs, not using large heavy balls because “females are put off by the prospect of being hit by one” and having incentives to make girls want to attend sessions to play football, all of which were heavily accompanied by images of pink coloured items.

Pink merchandise, low cut shirts and the need for different branding for women and girls is a prime example of how we are still treat differently in football today. We watch the same game, follow the same team, and know the same rules, what’s the issue?

Remarks that have been made to myself whilst in the workplace have been documented alongside some of the comments that have stuck with me for years. This photographic series is me speaking up and fighting back against everyone who has ever made me feel uncomfortable and wrong for being a women who likes football.

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