Women Going Wild

Laurie and Debbie say:

Turkey has been having a lot of trouble with fan violence at and after soccer matches, and one of the solutions being tried is all-woman audiences.

Travis at Think Progress shared this brief video of a local Turkish soccer game attended by some 40,000 women and children, along with some thoughts about it:

The most important takeaway from the game, however, wasn’t that female sports fans are less violent than their male counterparts. It’s that they’re just as passionate.

In international soccer, there are especially large barriers to women’s equal participation as fans or players. The Brazilian men’s national team is the pride of the country, but the women’s team barely receives enough funding to train. In Iran, women are banned not just from attending men’s matches, but from watching national broadcasts of them as well. FIFA, the sport’s international governing body, banned the Iranian women’s team from an Olympic qualifier because its members refused to play without wearing headscarves.

But even when countries and cultures make it harder for women to be fans and players, it’s amazing to see how female athletes and sports fans are pushing for equality. Brazil’s World Cup team narrowly lost to the well-funded American side in the quarterfinals of this year’s tournament. Iranian women risk severe punishment by dressing up as men to attend soccer matches there.

It’s a truism in the disability activist world that whatever you do to make the world more accessible for disabled people ends up benefiting some group you didn’t expect: curb cuts for wheelchairs help parents (and nannies) with strollers, they help businesspeople with rolling suitcases, etc., etc.

Gender segregation has a long history of being either an ugly use of privilege (like the Bohemian Club) or a response to misuse of privilege (as seen in various forms of feminist separatism). In this case, however, reducing violence is a goal and excluding men is a strategy. From a violence-prevention point of view, the strategy worked. And the unexpected benefit is how much passionate fun everyone is having. You don’t have to be a soccer fan to want to be there.