PART 2 of 3 (Part 1)
[References to gendered slurs and misogynistic language ahead.]
So, why did both John Terry and Anton Ferdinand choose that word to use as an insult to the other, and why doesn’t anyone care?
During the trial, the prosecution was quizzing Terry on the normal stuff that is said on the pitch: “I’ve shagged yours, that sort of thing?” Terry responded, “Fair game.”
Of course, not totally fair game, as the headbutt heard round the world reminds us. Zinedine Zidane refused to apologize to Italian defender Marco Materazzi for the headbutt in the World Cup final in 2006 because “I can’t regret what I did because it would mean that he was right to say all that.” Materazzi apparently called Zidane’s sister a “whore”. So, personal gendered insults cross the line.
No, Materazzi shouldn’t have said that word. But if “I’ve shagged yours” is “fair game,” then one can imagine why Materazzi wouldn’t have expected “your sister is a whore” to result in assault. “C___,” a word thrown around much more casually in England than the US, would be next to nothing in that verbal repertoire.
Whether the word is popular in England, though, does not take away its sexist roots, especially when used primarily to insult another person. Melissa McEwan:
If you’re turning part of a woman’s body into a slur to insult someone, the implication is necessarily that c___s are bad, nasty, less than, in some way something that a person wouldn’t want to be or be associated with. That’s how insults work. When c___ is used as a slur, it is dependent on construing a woman’s body part negatively – and it is thusly misogynistic, because it inexorably insults women in the process.
The reason that Terry et al. choose to use this particular word when on the pitch is because it is efficient. It implies that the other player isn’t just someone they don’t like, but rather someone who is equivalent to that part of a woman’s body. It cuts quick, fast, easily.
Why does this matter if it’s just dudes playing the game?