As an avid football fan who happens to be female, I didn’t realize Sunday was National Shut the F*ck Up Day for women until comedian Kevin Hart inaugurated it so on Twitter. According to Hart’s 'mansplanation,' the STFU Ladies holiday is celebrated by the unification of men everywhere to “enjoy the ‘fruits’ of what [they] call football on this glorious day.” Now before you go complaining that I can’t handle a “joke,” just hear me out.
I’ve been a football fan my entire life. As a baby, my father would lay me on his chest leaving him hands free to flip from game to game every football Sunday and so my love for the sport began. Growing up in a family full of women who are rabid fans, I never knew girls were supposed to shut up while the men watched the game. In my family, my aunts yell “OFFSIDE” just as loud as my uncles and my male and female cousins know the difference between Cover 2 and Cover 4 defenses.
A daddy’s girl (for life), my father never differentiated between myself and my two older brothers who both played college football. I was expected to call out plays and participate in very long, very detailed, and sometimes heated game day analysis in the family room or at the dinner table. And while I’ve long left my parents home for college, adulthood, and beyond, I still call my father weekly to break down the games of the week and make predictions for the next.
Naturally my first reaction to Kevin Hart’s comment was one of annoyance, but I also realize that it’s bigger than him (pun somewhat intended...couldn’t resist).
Although I grew up in an environment that didn’t assume all women hated football and wouldn’t shut up about it, misogyny seems to go along with watching the game as nicely as a cold one. Season after season the trash talking seems to curiously and unrelentingly slant towards women bashing.
Even though it took a [redacted] to push out the 250lb linebacker whose jersey is worn any given Sunday, it doesn’t stop fans from saying the opposing quarterback plays like one. A turnover can easily warrant a player being called a b*tch. And there's the oft-said quip that the Cowboys play like the Cowgirls, which I have to say that as a girl and a perennial Cowboy hater, I deeply resent.
The sexism present in the way we cheer our teams on has become so second nature that it almost feels like breathing -- but sucking in all this manly air leaves many women gasping. It’s easy to dismiss Hart words and sexist banter as being a part of the game, but we know that the consequences of these expressions often run higher and cut deeper than we imagine.
Recently, the National Basketball Association (NBA) united with the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GSLEN) and the Ad Council began a public service campaign to end the use of homophobic slurs on courts around the nation. After Kevin Hart’s tweet produced 4,673 retweets and 752 favorites and ignited the umpteenth Twitter gender war, I can’t help but wonder if the National Football League (NFL) should partner with the National Organization for Women (NOW) to create their own anti-misogynist PSA.
Jamila Aisha Brown is a freelance writer, political commentator, and social entrepreneur. Her entrepreneurship, HUE LLC, provides consulting solutions for development projects throughout the African diaspora. You may follow her on Twitter: @MsJamilaAisha and contact her via www.hueconnect.com.