by Amrita Singh
Another weekend passes, another football scandal arrives in the Sunday papers. A young lady selling the intimate details of her sexual exploits with a man she probably wouldn’t be with, were he not a footballer. The majority of people judge these women and they are lambasted in the media, but are they frivolous girls or savvy business women? After all, if a woman is paid for a service by a client and then manages to double the fee on top of it, in any other sector, she would be praised as being a pioneer of her industry.
The WAG – is no longer just a term to refer to ‘wives and girlfriends’ but more so an ideal, a lifestyle, an icon. Similar to the ‘ladies that lunch’ stereotype, there is a degree of aspiration behind it, despite those of us that dwell on the stigma. When we strip down The WAG (excuse the phrase) we see she embodies positive attributes – she is successful, affluent, she looks good, she is often a multi-tasking mum with side projects – so why don’t we celebrate these things? The answer would seem to be because they don’t achieve any of these things through dedication and hard work, they instead essentially live off their partners. However, if we can appreciate a model’s pursuit to success as simply looking good all the time, networking and getting your picture taken, why then can we not appreciate The Wag’s?
Every career or lifestyle pursuit is different, what we view as success can be subjective and while we may not agree with the notion of The WAG, surely we are doing more harm to women and football by judging them. The thinking that most have towards The WAG seems to be they are sexual objects, existing in exchange for money and material possessions. If we adopt the same thinking, are we not all misogynists? Are we not neglecting to consider these women as human beings? As mothers? As people who have devoted their life to get somewhere? Whether, we agree with it or not.
Football is a working class game. Most British footballers are working class, from humble beginnings and backgrounds. What we shouldn’t forget is that their partners are often from the same type of background. So, is this any worse than marrying outside your class? Upward social mobility is often a result of marriage and while it may not be a deciding factor, it is certainly something that women will be aware of sub-consciously. The WAG, however, does not marry outside of her class but rather stays within it. She may acquire money and possessions but her values and lifestyle are likely to stay the same – albeit on a grander scale.
Having attempted to ‘humanise’ The WAG, I am not ignorant to the damage the icon has upon young women. This is not an attempt to defend The WAG but more so to understand why she exists and how little she knows of the damage she is causing to female role models. I work in education and I am unable to ignore how many young women have changed their thinking. There is often this problem of girls ‘playing up’ to the stereotype of being naive and ‘ditsy’ even when I know they are very bright girls. In these cases, I can’t help but think that the imagery from the media and the shift of icons is responsible, namely The WAG.
WAGS have always existed under many guises, such as groupies or socialites and some women have always been attracted to that lifestyle. However it is the sheer number of exposure these women now get that has become a problem. The images young women see are attractive, and when something becomes staple a culture will embrace it. It is important that we don’t attack the women who happen to be WAGS but fight the notion of The WAG as an icon.