Male-dominated sport in ‘sexist’ and ‘nationalistic’ shocker

// 10 April 2008

I love me my darts, which is handy, being a sports journalist, but seriously, the more I go to Premier League Darts the more I wish I didn’t.

If you’re not an arrows enthusiast – and let’s face it, there’s no real reason you should be – Premier League Darts is basically a competition that tours round the UK, with the eight best players in the world playing each other on a league basis. My particular favourite player is a lovely Dutch chap called Raymond van Barneveld, who is the world number 2. So, y’know, pretty good. I’ve not yet been to a single match where Barney hasn’t had to contend with a huge chunk of the crowd booing him and chanting, “Eng-er-land, Eng-er-land, Eng-er-land” before he throws. (His compatriot Roland Scholten had to put up with similar treatment when he was a competitor.)

And of course, the ladies at darts are just for decoration. I had vaguely made my peace with the lovely model accompanying each player in his walk-on (they have nicknames and theme songs, and they walk on before their match to their theme, and…no, really, darts is great!), but now they’ve put a couple of women in bikini tops and hula skirts to walk on with Wayne ‘Hawaii 501’ Mardle and it makes me want to scratch people.

But then, I shouldn’t really be surprised. Last time I went, prior to the start of the matches and the television broadcast, the MC was on warming up the audience, and asked for a volunteer from the crowd. A sea of male hands waved in the air, begging him to pick them for their 15 seconds of stardom. The MC grinned and added, “Should have said – preferably a blonde with big tits.” Hilarity ensued, obviously. And what made it even sadder is a well-endowed blonde woman from the audience was only too happy to join him on stage, flaunt her assets and soak up the heckles and the ‘appreciative’ calls from the rest of the crowd.

I may not go next season.

Comments From You

Carrie // Posted 10 April 2008 at 9:10 pm

OK, here’s an addendum – they’ve just wheeled out a MALE MODEL dressed as a matador to accompany Terry ‘the Bull’ Jenkins…

chem_fem // Posted 11 April 2008 at 10:23 am

I went to the cricket last year (England vs Pakistan) and it was fabulous. I had a really great time, but they kept on wheeling out these orange, blond ‘NPower’ girls every where.

It was just really bizarre as it just didn’t seem to fit. The whole day was lighthearted and fun, not testosterone fueled so I didn’t see where they fitted in.

I’d love to go again though anyway

Carrie // Posted 11 April 2008 at 11:50 am

Oh, the bloody nPower girls, I’d forgotten about them. To be honest, they seem to have little to do but make sure David ‘Bumble’ Lloyd doesn’t get lost between the pitch and the commentary box. I’ve written about cheerleaders before, but I was at the rugby the other week and they’d replaced the children’s cheerleading squad with a bunch of grown women – my friend told me, “Lots of people complained because the local rugby league side has grown-up cheerleaders and we only have kids.” Sigh.

r2c2 // Posted 11 April 2008 at 12:47 pm

I completely share your perspective on this (apart from the Barnie thing as I am a huge fan of Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor)! I really enjoy the game of darts but not the culture in which it operates (which is, as you rightly suggest, prejudice in a whole host of ways). Each time they bring out their ‘trophy’ companions I feel so annoyed and indeed saddenned. What is worse is the fact that no-one else seems bothered about this! At no point does anyone question why an attractive female or two is required to walk onto the stage with the dart players. Once on the stage they are subject to all manner of heckling and cat-calls and again this is seen as acceptable and largely unproblematic. Unfortunately despite our existing in the year 2008 women still see being pretty as a legitimate career option. I’m sure these women are lovely – it is in fact society that is to blame for inculcating and perpetuating the myth that women can only ever be ‘side orders’!! Furthermore, there is absolutely no reason why female and male darters shouldn’t play in the same league but as is so often the case this is clearly seen as one step too far for women who still inhabit a largely male-dominated world. I am a PhD student working towards my thesis, which is heavily feminist in perspective and it concerns me greatly that despite advances and the fantastic efforts from which these arise so many areas remain unchanged. Thanks for highlighting this – it’s only a game but it belies some genuinely serious and important issues for women and society as a whole.

Carrie // Posted 11 April 2008 at 1:05 pm

Thanks very much, r2c2 – this is the kind of stuff my own PhD is on so am hoping to talk about it more in the future!

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