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To All The Men Who Think The Football World Cup Is A Hall Pass For Misogyny

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That women face sexism from pretty much all quarters is a known fact. Come FIFA World Cup season, and you get a readymade platter of sexist stereotypes with renewed, pumped up notions of “men will be men” popping up. Now, I’ve been watching and devouring the FIFA World Cup since I was a little girl. My family knows I’m a devoted fan and my friends, well, are surprised.

Recently, I got a WhatsApp forward from some close people (all men), that was in the form of an open letter from a football-crazy fan to his wife, listing a set of dos and don’ts for her for the football season. What’s funny is all of them sent the message to me because I watch football and would clearly appreciate some good ol’ sexist humour: who cares about insignificant coincidences like me being a woman, after all. I love them, which bothered me all the more because I thought they knew better. I think they usually do, but again, sports season is a ready hall pass for misogyny it seems.

I figured it’s best to assess the message and come up with a standard response for everyone once and for all, so here goes:

My Dear Wife

The Fifa World Cup is close by. Let me give you a few rules that will preserve your beauty. (Sure, rules laid out by men is what has helped preserved our beauty over the years. Thank yaar.)

1. The remote control belongs to me for the whole month. (Um, no it doesn’t because we co-own the TV)

2. Tell all your friends not to give birth or wed or die or whatever during the World Cup coz we won’t go. (Maybe you won’t, and maybe that’s why you don’t have any friends, brain, or empathy)

3. You support the teams that I support. (No words. Wait, actually I do have words, but they’re reserved for the team I’ve always supported and, hint hint, it’s not your team.)

4. No talking during the game, wait for half-time or end of the game. (By you? Thank heavens. Oh, but how will I enjoy you unsportingly grunting and whining while your team is losing and mine’s winning?)

5. Repeats and highlights are as good as the main match, so am gonna watch them. (Cool. Hand me the remote while you catch the highlights on your phone.)

6. We can watch daily TV soaps provided actors and actresses are wearing football shirts and they are in Russia. (Great idea. I’ll be on Netflix while you do that: you might just find such a daily soap BTW.)

7. You don’t just pass in front of the TV if I’m watching football, you better crawl on the floor. (And you better crawl back into that hole that’s screaming misogyny and patriarchy and calling you back to your rightful place)

8. Make sure you don’t ask silly questions such as is this Chelsea versus England? (Because you wouldn’t know, because Google doesn’t exist, or because you simply assume everyone is as ignorant as you are?)

9. No funny faces to my friends when they come for football. (Explain “funny faces”. The answer will still be no because, again, your bird brain has assumed you decide who’s invited to our house and when all by yourself.)

10. Smile everytime EXCEPT when my team is losing. (Okay, will be rolling on the floor laughing instead)

11. There shall be no comments about Cristiano Ronaldo’s looks. Professionalism shall remain an absolute part of the World Cup. (Messi’s more my type but at least now I know yours)

12. If you miss the lineup please don’t ask, ‘who is that guy?’ (Of course, I won’t. Unlike what you think about yourself, I’m well aware of your ‘knowledge’ and if you haven’t noticed, I have eyes and ears: surprise!)

13. Ronaldo the Brazilian and Ronaldo the Portuguese are not related, Tanzania and Kenya did not qualify. (Sexist, racist, AND stupid? I’m so lucky.)

Thank you,

GENTLEMAN’S ASSOCIATION. (Haha. Enjoy divorce.)

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Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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