On Bantergate

January 31, 2011

David Mitchell in the Obo Gray and Keys have met their Waterloo:

These men weren’t making sexist jokes or taking the piss. They seem genuinely to believe that women can’t understand the offside rule. Not just women who don’t like football or only watch the occasional match; not just scatter-brained sculptresses or isolated Pacific island tribeswomen; not just Katie Price or the Queen; but women who have worked their entire careers to get a job in football, been fully trained as referees and officiated in hundreds of matches. They think even those women can’t understand the offside rule.

It seems reasonable to conclude that these broadcasters are implying that women are, at the very least, slightly less intelligent than men. But possibly only slightly: maybe they reckon that the offside rule is the most complex and difficult concept known to, well, man. They may think women can do anything else men can do – right up to rocket science, brain surgery and transubstantiation – but that female intelligence cuts off just before that most elusive and nuanced of human ideas, the offside rule. If that’s the case, Keys and Gray are a bit sexist, but their main mental health problem is believing a slightly tricky rule from an incredibly straightforward game – a notion on the level of buying hotels in Monopoly – is like existentialism, string theory, the double helix, long division and backing-up-Nokia-phone-contacts-on-an-Apple-computer all rolled into one.

But it may be that they’ve got a better sense of proportion about the trickiness of offside, yet still consider it to be beyond any woman’s intellectual grasp. If that’s the case, they must spend most of their lives looking around in horrified bewilderment. They think women are imbeciles and yet there women are, walking around, wearing clothes, holding down jobs, being allowed to vote – driving around in cars, for God’s sake! Gray and Keys must be terrified.

Could chimps be taught the offside rule? Or dolphins? That octopus seemed to know a lot about football. How basic an organism do Andy and Richard consider the female of their species to be?





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