‘World Cup widows’ miss the point – football isn’t the main draw at all
As well as the sexism and self-importance of World Cup widowhood, it fails to see what the coming month is really about
As if there aren’t enough contrivances in the world already aimed at splitting the sexes
World Cup widows. ’Tis the season. For survival guides and agony aunts dishing out tips on how to cope. For tossed-off articles wondering “Is your relationship strong enough to make it through the World Cup”? For “23 things to do while your useless plug of a fella is watching the footie”. Because God forbid modern life would ever allow a global event to pass without paying due deference to the eternal quandary of “what about me?”
World Cup widows. Even the very phrase is enough to make a sane person stare off into the distance and reflect on the Bill Hicks line that humanity is just a virus with shoes. The self-importance of it, the pure-spun calculation, the joking-but-not-really-joking guilt-trippery. Its message is so simple – hey, just so you know, your devotion to the World Cup makes us feel as though you are actually dead.
Not to mention the insidious sexism. As if the month splits the globe in two, with pizza-slobbering, can-swilling, barely sentient males in one room and eye-rolling, perpetually-put-upon, patience-of-saints women in the other. As if there aren’t enough bullshit contrivances in the world already aimed at splitting the sexes without co-opting one of the very few genuine pan-planetary shared experiences.
Makes you wonder what actual widows make of the appropriation of the word. The poor unfortunates who would delight in having their chosen life accompaniment back stuck to the couch, eyes glazed over while Chile and Australia play out the evening’s third game. They must look at the casual, light-hearted use of the term and dream of a life with so few problems.
We didn’t start the fire
Look, we get it. The World Cup is a behemoth. For a month every four years, it’s a bushfire that knows no outer boundaries. Walk a street on any corner of the planet from Urlingford to Ulan Bator over the coming weeks and it will crackle out from living rooms and shacks, from pubs and portacabins. It’s far too big and far too all-consuming. Do you imagine we don’t know that?
But here’s a question. Do you get it? You, in your airy “ugh, football” sulk. You, with your presumption that it’s the silly meanderings of 22 men and a pig’s bladder that has us rendered catatonic. Do you get what the draw of this event is for us?
Because here’s the thing. It’s not actually the football. We can watch soccer any time, and the God’s honest truth of it is that most of us can broadly take or leave it. We actually watch far less of it than you might imagine.