The triumph of women's football represents a covert feminist revolution.


The triumph of women's football represents a covert feminist revolution.


Perhaps victory is a dish best served cold, just like retaliation. It was the country's women who brought home the victory, 56 years after England last won a significant footballing trophy—a period during which, as May Robson notes, women were still prohibited from participating in competitive sports.

At the 2019 Women's World Cup, the women's game had not yet swept the country three years prior. Women's football now appears to be important. It is difficult to emphasise the revolution this symbolises, yet it has happened essentially covertly. The problem is that women who dared to occupy space have infiltrated football, which is a sport in which men revere the male body and what it is capable of, as well as a topic of debate that frequently excludes women. They did not protest or demand inclusion. They toiled away at it for years, through the embarrassment of watching from the sidelines and being dismissed as not fascinating or significant enough, and yesterday night they stormed onto the field.

Women of a certain age around the nation are already exchanging tales of being denied the chance to participate, recalling their football-loving great aunt or grandmother who would have been overjoyed to witness this victory if she were still living. Isn't it absurd that we weren't allowed to play football at school, they ask? Football was something we grew up knowing was definitely not for us. If the circumstances were right, we might be interested in it and be allowed to play it with our friends, but the major leagues, superstardom, and adulation were all reserved for guys.

This victory alters everything for both guys and girls. The thrill of witnessing the Lionesses' victory and watching both men and women celebrate it is undoubtedly comparable to witnessing a woman hold elective office for the first time. The wonderful game is now open to both genders as of last night. My five-year-old daughter frequently informs me that football is only played by the guys at her school. But she informed me yesterday that she too wants to play for England as she celebrated the victory. Girls and boys' perceptions of one another will be drastically changed if female football players succeed.

Of course, this isn't the Hollywood film about women's football that has a happy ending. The sport continues to get chronically insufficient funding and support. Ian Wright stated during the match on Sunday, "This generation of females have had to fight and scrap for everything." Prior to the World Cup the following year, he urged the Premier League to take over the women's game. Even in women's football, diversity issues persist. Additionally, "true" football is still played by men, which is another factor. Why else would the game played by women require a unique designation, lest someone mistake it for the genuine article? Why not call them Lions instead of Lionesses, a moniker that borders on patronising?

This victory cannot by itself bring about gender equality. However, there is something particularly appetising about the win and the associated dismantling of gendered norms. The players can be seen dancing and singing around their manager, Sarina Wiegman, in a video of them celebrating after the game. Their delight spreads quickly. They radiate a feeling of liberation. And it's not only an exciting experience. Five weeks after the US Supreme Court limited women's rights, a football team in England has increased ours as a result of years of covert labour.

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