The governing body of World Cup Soccer, FIFA, is under fire this week for an article on the organization’s official website that describes Alex Morgan, the star of the U.S. Women’s Soccer team, in a dismissively sexist manner.
The article started this way:
“Alex Morgan is one of the most popular players in USA women’s football. A talented goalscorer with a style that is very easy on the eye and good looks to match, she is nothing short of a media phenomenon.”
Many have correctly pointed out that it is no longer acceptable to write about women that way. Morgan is a highly accomplished player and she is the star of the team based on her athleticism and success on the field – not her looks.
Julie Foudy, another U.S. player, tweeted after reading the article: “And she cooks and cleans like no other. Her ironing? Flawless. #Welcometothe21stcenturyFIFA”
I am of course completely supportive of the FIFA-bashing. They’re pigs.
They had no right to talk about Morgan that way, even if she did pose nude for Sports Illustrated in 2012. It’s true! She was one of the female athletes who agreed to pose in body paint for the magazine’s annual swimsuit issue that year. Nothing wrong with that – women can do what they want with their bodies. We live in the modern world where that dichotomy exists: Posing nude used to be demeaning and now it is empowering. Commenting about a woman’s good looks used to be a complement and now it’s demeaning.
Whether you approve of that reality doesn’t matter. The lesson is this: Writers always – always — have to consider context and perspective. If you’re a writer, you have to think about who you represent, what your objective is and how your audience will react. Is your intent to annoy people? Do you want them to wonder whether FIFA is run by men who will never treat women as equals? In this case, the answer is undoubtedly no. The author merely didn’t put enough thought into his words.
And for writers, that will always get you into trouble.