Today is International Women’s Day and as such is a day to take notice of all the ways women move through the world. Today, I’d like to focus on WoSo, big surprise.
This is the time of year and the time in the international cycle when women’s soccer is highly visible and scrutinized; by fans and foes, by broadcasters, and journalists, and sponsors. A large part of that scrutiny is carried out over social media; Twitter, tumblr, instagram, snapchat, Facebook… and as much as it is a boost to the sport and the players it is increasingly becoming a place where that boost is being cancelled out by the very personal and very demeaning comments about players. Nothing new, you say? Just read any sport site comments, you say? Well, you may be right, but the difference here is that many of these personal and demeaning comments are coming from other women.
Don’t get me wrong, I think criticism is good for the sport and certainly should be engaged in openly and freely, I just have to draw the line at personal and demeaning. Negative comments and resulting barbs and jokes about someone’s appearance, their mental state, their age, or their faith – to name a few – should be considered offside and therefore not allowed.
When comments go from professional to personal is when we as women cross over to the “mean girls” mentality and undo all the good that it takes thousands and thousands of positive comments to build. Think about it, all it takes is one negative personal comment about a player that other social media users repeat and share to bring the wrong kind of scrutiny to the sport. Negative comments aren’t only seen by your followers or friends they’re also seen by broadcasters, journalists , and maybe more importantly to the players, sponsors. It doesn’t matter which player those comments are directed toward because even though it may hurt your target more, it affects all the players.
I know as a group we’re better than that. ‘Mean Girls’ was just a movie, but I think as time has passed we’ve forgotten the real intended message. The movie wasn’t intended to glorify meanness, it was to point out how truly harmful it can be.
So on this International Women’s Day I want to challenge all fans of WoSo, but especially other women, to be as professional in your criticism as you expect players to be on the field. To bypass the easy personal jab for a more enlightened comment. To raise the level of discourse one social media post at a time.
I’m inspired and impressed by all the women involved in the game and I truly want that to extend to the women who comment on the game as well.
Celebrate International Women’s Day by being a better woman.
*Full disclosure: I’m not perfect, I’ve made a few comments from time to time I’m not especially proud of. But I try hard not to, I wouldn’t ask you to do anything I’m not asking of myself.