Is What Niamh Horan Wrote Really That Bad?
I’M not an athletic girl. I’m five feet tall and zero inches but while I can’t run down a pitch, (though I’ve tried) I can shout on the side-lines as good as anyone else. Personally my favourite sport is rugby and I couldn’t care less if it’s played by men or women. Just give me an oval ball and people slamming into each other with reckless abandon and I’m happy.
But when I read Niamh Horan’s article about women’s rugby on August 10, I’ll admit it made me angry. Here was this journalist talking about women who, in my opinion, should be heroes for beating the New Zealand women’s rugby squad – a feat never achieved by their male counterparts – and she’s reduced them to tan-wearing bimbos.
But then I read the article again. And then I read the reactions to her article and many of the follow up pieces. Seeing as I have thoroughly calmed down now, we should discuss what Ms Horan wrote.
If we read it closely, there is very little about actual rugby in this piece. There might be 13 sentences in total that are about rugby and I’m being generous with that number. The portions of the article genuinely focusing on rugby and women in the sport aren’t half bad. I mean, there are moments of sheer ignorance about line-outs and tackling. I mean – come on, Horan – if you tell a player not to go easy on you, did seriously think she was going to stop when you held your hands up in defence? There are even some great points about women in the Railway Union and how sometimes women are easier to train.
My point is, this article isn’t all bad. However, the rest of the piece and Ms Horan’s follow-up reaction in this week’s Sunday Independent are not good. Reducing well-respected women to sex objects is unacceptable. If one were to make comparisons about the male teams scrum being similar to sex and getting felt up, you wouldn’t be published because our men get more respect.
I don’t care that these are ‘effortlessly pretty women‘ (although, good for them), I do care that they are badass players who have done something their male counterparts have never done. I care that these women should be respected for more than the ability to keep their hair looking good on the pitch. When Niamh Horan played with the Railway Union she should know better than to picture Simon Zebo for inspiration in a tackle. Be inspired instead, by the woman who is going flatten your ass if you don’t pay attention.
Then there was her own response to tweets and other articles criticising her. To deem people who find the belittling of talented women as ‘needing a good lay‘ or ‘boring‘ is just childish.
But to a degree I get her point. She does say that these women are ‘kick-ass‘ and ‘good at sport while still looking attractive‘. Like I said, I’m delighted the players are so good at being hot and badass at the same time (if Wonder Woman can do it), but I still think Niamh Horan could have delivered that point without over-sexualising the whole situation.
But one thing I can’t abide was Horan’s reference to a sore spot in Munster rugby history and you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about if you’ve read the articles. That’s right – the threesome. I cannot, for the life of me, see what the point in mentioning that was.
Sure, go ahead and make jokes about moves being a little sexually orientated. I mean, if you’re uncomfortable in a moment, which you might be in your first scrum, you’ll make a joke. By all means tell us how badass the women are, while still maintaining their femininity. But why, oh why, are you asking if they get up to threesomes?
Why do you care? Why the hell should any sports fan care? Just because some other players (who shall remain nameless) got caught doing something that is their own private business, does that mean all rugby players do it? I don’t think so.
So before I dig my own grave going any further into this topic I’m going to stop. As I said, I kind of see where Horan is coming from, I just think she went about it in the wrong way.
Photos c/o independent.ie, gumtree.ie