After an interview, David Moyes said to Vicki Sparks ‘You were just getting a wee bit naughty at the end there, so just watch yourself. You still might get a slap even though you’re a woman”. Later, after apologising and referring to the incident as a mistake, Moyes said “I’ve apologised to the girl.”
It sounds to me like his mistake is that the words that came out of his mouth revealed a sexist attitude that he would prefer had been kept hidden. Moyes’ later reference to Vicki Sparks as a ‘girl’ is a further indication that, the 53-year-old male does not see this professional adult human female as an equal.
Saying that Sparks herself laughed overlooks that many woman laugh off sexist and misogynistic comment from men on a regular basis, sometimes because we want to avoid further abuse, sometimes because we simply don’t think they’re (the men) worth the bother of taking on. When we refuse to laugh and instead challenge or confront such ‘banter’, we’re often told to get a grip, that we’re making something out of nothing and that we should get a life.
Making a joke out of the violence against women is another way of normalising men’s violence against women. It helps create a context in which domestic violence and abuse and sexual violence are tolerated rather than seen as abhorrent.
Male violence against women does not exist in a social vacuum, it simultaneously reinforces and is reinforced by inequality between women and men. The two go hand-in-hand and Moyes’ slip from referring to giving a woman a slap straight in to referring to her as a girl is an illustration of this.
I’m not laughing – and if you are – perhaps you should ask yourself why you’re unable to see the connection between making light of violence against women and a society in which men’s violence against women flourishes.