I spent my Saturday afternoon like so many others: slouched on the sofa, watching England capitalise on an Australian back-line that fell apart to give Eddie Jones’ boys another great victory. Later that day, ‘Swing Low Sweet Chariot’ still ringing in my ears, I thought I’d check out BBC Sport to see what their reporters made of the performance.
To my surprise – and gradual horror – the comments section was flooded, not with patriotic comments about the performance, but complaints and sexist slurs about the BBC’s decision to appoint the experienced female commentator, Sara Orchard, for their coverage of the game. Seeking a wider range of opinions, I took to Twitter and ran a search for “rugby commentator”. Once again, I was met with a plethora of eloquently-phrased opinions, such as:
trying to watch the highlights of the rugby its spoilt by a woman commentator turned off…not sexist but come on really
— steve baxter (@conil07) November 18, 2017
Why are @BBCSport so pathetically gutless that they cave to political correctness by having an awful female commentator doing today’s rugby
— colin rooney (@colrooney) November 18, 2017
In 140 characters, Steve and Colin, along with so many others, formed a driving maul which knocked my faith in society’s attitude toward women in sport back to my own 22. They also inadvertently hammered home the continuing importance of the This Girl Can campaign as a beacon of hope that their attitudes may become a thing of the past.
What is the This Girl Can Campaign?
Sport England established the This Girl Can campaign back in 2015, as a response to a survey suggesting that there were two million fewer women participating in sports than men. The ongoing campaign has been hugely successful and is stated to have persuaded 1.6 million women to start exercising, while 2.8 million women said that they have become more active as a result of the campaign. However, the gender gap still exists and work remains to be done.
This is why Oxford SU has created Oxbridge Girls Can week, starting tomorrow. There are tonnes of events taking place around Oxford, open to anyone who identifies in some way with the term ‘woman’, inclusive of non-binary folk and other complex gender identities. Some sessions are limited and you can sign up on the Oxford SU website.
What is the Blue Bird doing?
To show support for #OxbridgeGirlsCan, as well as the wider national movement, we have designated 7th Week as Women’s Sport Week in the Blue Bird. We’ll be publishing a series of interviews with Oxford’s most inspiring sportswomen, as well as opinion pieces and other exciting content. We’ve even put rivalries aside (temporarily) to collaborate with Blue Bird Cambridge, who will be running a similar series of articles.
The event will reach a climax on Wednesday night, for which we’ve teamed up with Atalanta’s to take over Park End and celebrate women’s sport at Oxford over some well-earned VKs. Be there or be square.
Want to have your say this week? We’d love to hear from you! Get in touch via email at email@example.com