There's no off-switch for sexism. The Premier League should have sacked Scudamore

You can't champion women’s equality in your professional life - and discuss women in these offensive terms in your personal life.

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The Independent Online

Like so many men who express sexist views, Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore seems more sorry that he got caught than sorry for what he said. The apology he’s made over the emails he was party to, in which women are referred to women as “gash” and “big-titted broads” who become “irrational” after having children, just isn’t an apology.

"I accept the contents are inappropriate and apologise for any offence caused,” Scudamore said.  “It was an error of judgement that I will not make again." But it’s not clear whether the error of judgement was in his view of women, or that the view was exchanged over email. 

The episode has - predictably - been met with the argument that these were personal emails and therefore Scudamore’s views don’t interfere with his job. The story goes that you can call women whatever names you like in your personal life, and it needn’t have any bearing on how you conduct your professional life. But that’s just nonsense. 

If you think of women as ‘gash’, if you think women are ‘irrational’ or that women are just there for your sexual titillation, then you don’t wipe those views from your mind every time you step into your office. There isn’t a sexism-amnesia formula that misogynists can take every time they go to work – the effects wearing off just in time to let them send some personal emails packed full of their actual views of women. If you dehumanise women in your personal communications, if you reduce women to objects and orifices, then that will impact on your ability to see them as fully human in your professional and your personal environment. 

Scudamore, as boss of the Premier League, is responsible for promoting equality in football. It’s up to him to support efforts to ‘kick out sexism’ from the game. How can he do this, when he willingly shares such nasty and offensive views of women? You cannot be a champion for women’s equality in your professional life and discuss women in these offensive terms in your personal life.

Someone who dehumanises women in this way should not be trusted to promote equality in a sport where inequality between male and female teams is already such a huge problem. After all, a recent survey showed that two thirds of women employed in football had experienced discrimination. Meanwhile, Sue Tibballs, former head of the Women’s Sports and Fitness Federation, called the Premier League’s support for women’s sports a ‘nonsense’ and Scudamore a ‘dinosaur’.

It’s not enough for Scudamore and the Premier League to talk the talk about raising the profile of women’s football in front of the cameras. Not when the man responsible for that effort holds such sexist and mocking views of women.

The word ‘gash’ literally reduces women to a hole. A man who happily exchanges emails where women are dehumanised in this way should not be in charge of promoting equality anywhere – let alone in an already grossly unequal industry. Women footballers – and women everywhere – deserve better than this. Women Premier League footballers and wannabe footballers deserve a boss who sees them as fully human. 

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