Dear sexist men, I don’t chant “Hala Madrid” to compete for your heart

Published: October 21, 2017
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A Real Madrid football team fan holds up a scarf to celebrate the team's win on Plaza Cibeles in Madrid on May 22, 2017 after the Spanish league football match Malaga CF vs Real Madrid CF held at La Rosaleda stadium in Malaga on May 21, 2017. PHOTO: GETTY

I had never been much of a sports fan. My father loves cricket and whenever he watched it, I either watched it half-heartedly with him or just left the room. It never interested me like it interested many of my friends. I thought maybe I am not into sports; maybe the extent of me liking sports is restricted to playing basketball.

I was introduced to football back in school. It seemed so new to me, I had never explored this game. People at school talked about it and apparently watching it was cooler than watching cricket. I tried watching it and I realised that I actually love it. The game, the players, the fans and the loyalty one possessed for their club, fascinated me. Everything that I experienced while watching a football game was new and real, and for the first time in my life, I felt connected to something.

However, what bothered me was the way men in my life responded to my interest in football. Yes, I am a girl and yes I love watching football. How does that make me better than every other girl who doesn’t? And how does that make me an ‘ideal girl to date’? I never understood why being a girl and watching football was such news flash to men.

I remember back in university, I was talking to a guy and we ended up discussing El Clásico (Real Madrid versus Barcelona) as it was coming up; he told me that he couldn’t believe that I watched football. He said that for him, a girl who watched football was an ideal girl, a date-worthy girl. He proceeded to explain how he does not know a girl who did watch it and told me that he was really interested in me because I knew so much about football. Also, he was pretty excited that I was a Madridista, same as him.

There couldn’t be any more red flags there, so I tried to explain and reason with him, but his fascination of me, a girl watching football, did not go away. He said,

“If you keep talking to me about football, I’ll fall in love with you!”

Photo: Giphy

I have never blocked anyone faster than I blocked him.

The fact that he thinks I am ideal because I watch a certain sport while other girls don’t, does not seem cute to me; it is absolutely sexist. The statement “girls don’t watch football” is not true. I know so many football fans who are girls, Pakistani girls, hence his generalisation was flawed. He said,

“You’re not like other girls!”

Photo: Giphy

Yes, I am not like other girls because everyone has a different personality, but by saying this if you are implying that I’m better than other girls, then no. You can’t demean my gender and then expect me to fall head over heels for you just because you think I am superior to other girls. This is an extremely ignorant thing to say and I know a lot of men and even women think that this is absolutely romantic, but it is not. Stop pitting women against each other. We are not here to compete for your hearts.

These are not only men but women too who have internalised this notion of a woman watching sports to be better. A friend of mine was recently talking to me about how she cannot wait for me to get married. She told me,

Tum toh football bi dekhti ho, aadhay ladkay toh wesey hi pasand karlengay!

(You also like football, half of the men will already like you because of that!)

Photo: Giphy

This statement wasn’t funny to me. It made me feel sad knowing that my friend believed that watching football made me a ‘better catch’ for guys. Something that should be a normal hobby had turned into this incredibly different trait that would give me an upper hand in matrimonial situations.

I have seen those ‘if she watches football, marry her’ memes all over social media and each time it made me furious. Men apparently think it is a good idea to base their future on whether someone watches a certain sport.

Clearly, we all know who the smarter gender here is!

Photo: Pinterest

This does not end here.

Apparently, when I tell men I watch football, I need to prove that I do.

I was at a cafe watching a football match with a friend and his team was playing. He knew I liked football and asked me if I even knew the names of all the players in my team. I looked at him and tried to decipher if he was joking or being serious.

Nai yaar, mujhay kahan pata. (Of course I don’t, how would I now?) I only know Ronaldo because you know, he is hot!” I replied, to which he smirked.

Another instance, a fan of a rival team (yes, Barcelona) was arguing with me about a certain player (no, not Ronaldo). During our little spat, he knew he had lost the argument and so asked me,

Tumhain bara pata hai na football ka (you know so much about football, right), then tell me, do you even know who is the highest goal-scorer of your club after Ronaldo?”

I knew the answer – it was Raúl – and I answered his question too, but why do I always have to prove to people that I actually do like and follow football? Why do I have to prove to people that no, I don’t watch it to impress guys? Just because I am a girl, I am automatically under scrutiny from all the male football fans who still think that I love Real Madrid because I have a crush on Ronaldo.

It’s high time that men come out of the giant rock they are all living under and see the reality of the world. Girls watch sports, girls play sports and girls talk about sports. All of this is absolutely normal; this is not a personality trait to have. It is okay to like a girl if she watches football but it is not okay to deem her better than girls who don’t.

And please, when a girl tells you she watches football, don’t put her under investigation. Acknowledge it and move on. We don’t want special treatment for this and we do not want you to be sarcastic imbeciles about it.

Maznah Shehzad

Maznah Shehzad

The author has graduated from LUMS with a BSc in Economics. In her spare time, she likes to go on feminist rants and take random quizzes on Buzzfeed. She tweets @Maazzzzyyy (twitter.com/Maazzzzyyy).

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Utsav Sharma

    ok maamRecommend

  • Abdul moiz

    I don’t like women, whether they like football or not, … Guess i’m not sexistRecommend

  • Custard_Pie_In_Your_Face

    In short:
    Self confessed feminist goes on a rant over male plastic football fans expressing an interest in a female football fan.

    Recommend