In this article I consider women’s relationship to football culture, showing how women sometimes downplay their gender identities to reinforce their fan identities. To accomplish this I interviewed 38 female fans at English men’s football (soccer) matches and analyzed their responses to abusive or insulting behavior by male fans. Women used three strategies to respond to sexism and homophobia. First, they expressed disgust at abuse, sometimes redefining fandom to exclude abusers. Second, they downplayed sexism. Their third strategy was to embrace gender stereotypes, arguing that femininity was inconsistent with “authentic” fandom and that abuse was a fundamental part of football. Finally, I suggest that examining nontraditional male fans using a similar framework might yield useful results.
The author is with the School of Liberal Arts, Philadelphia University, School House Lane and Henry Ave., Philadelphia, PA.