David Preece: Let’s not turn clock back to 1970s – David Moyes’ comments wouldn’t have been funny then, either

Comedian Jim Davidson sprang to David Moyes' defence
Comedian Jim Davidson sprang to David Moyes' defence
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There are still some men who think there is no place in football for women. It’s a man’s game, you see.

In their mind, women shouldn’t be playing football. They shouldn’t be officiating games. They shouldn’t hold positions in the boardroom. They shouldn’t be in the stands watching football. And God forbid should they be presenting radio and TV programmes and talking about football. I mean, what do they know?

You know, they trot out their “get back in the kitchen and put my dinner on, love,” line with a congratulatory, self-satisfied smug grin on their face, thinking “I’ve told her, haven’t I?”

Yeah, right, mate. You have just told her. You’ve just told her and everyone else who reads it what an idiot you are. Thanks for flagging that up and making us all aware so we don’t make the mistake of taking you for someone we’d waste our time talking to.

Not so long ago, I really did get to the point where I thought we were getting somewhere in driving out intolerance and prejudice from the game but either we got lazy and took our eyes off the proverbial ball or we became too soft in dealing with those who take free speech as an opportunity to exercise their discriminations.

Football has never fully rid itself of the ills that have inhabited the game for decades and until stronger action is taken against those who exhibit them, they will continue to breed.

You might argue that things aren’t as bad as they used to be, but if you think that’s a good enough defence then you’re wrong.

A new generation seems to have grown up thinking it’s fine to act in a way that breaches the boundaries of what is acceptable.

It’s a societal problem, not just in football but ours is the perfect vehicle to educate and be an example to those who are easily influenced. We can teach right from wrong to those who haven’t had the greatest guidance. We can lead by example in showing them their way of thinking and the words they use is harmful to others and is restrictive.

Racists, sexists and homophobes aren’t born. They are moulded and learn by what they see and hear. I am thankful of my genes for two reasons; that I was over six foot (handy as a keeper) and that I had parents who never discriminated. I feel lucky that I grew up with parents who didn’t use bigoted language, neither did I see them treat anyone differently because they weren’t their mirror image.

Take a look at the replies of female journalists, sportswomen, any woman in the public eye really, on social media and you’ll see plenty of evidence that whatever is being done to banish sexism and abuse isn’t going far enough and we’re in regression, going backwards. Just because we are free to say anything we want doesn’t mean that we should.

The rhetoric that was deemed unacceptable in the past has gained an unwelcome familiarity again as the internet has provided people with a platform where they feel brave enough to be able to say what they want, free of consequence. I say “brave” because the faceless personas they adorn seem to give them a confidence that makes them feel as if they’re brave, that they’re somehow throwing off the shackles that rational, right-minded thinkers have placed on their prejudiced perceptions.

In the wake of Brexit, I hear this line of wanting “our country back”. Of a return to our “old values”. That we are “too PC” these days.

Really? We want to turn the clock back to the 1970s and 80s, do we? These who do either weren’t there or can’t remember.

Why would we want to go back to a time when discrimination wasn’t just casual, but vitriolic? Why would we want to go back to a time when women within football were treated with even more condescension than they’re sometimes shown now? I wouldn’t and don’t intend to.

People make mistakes and David Moyes’ apology may well be sincere but when the likes of Jim Davidson are heading the defence team then your feet are firmly in the wrong camp.

It’s the defenders who have disappointed me more than anything. Men I have respected saying it was OK. Take a look at Refuge’s website. Google “Living Without Abuse” and tell me how funny the content on their website is. It isn’t.

Why would we want to return to a time when men joked about giving a woman a slap was deemed acceptable? Is it OK to say it because you’d say the same thing to a man?

How about not saying it at all, be professional and answer perfectly reasonable questions?

If the line of questioning isn’t to your liking then you’re free to say so, but there are acceptable ways of expressing it. Bringing gender and a mild threat of violence into it isn’t one of them though.

Joke or no joke, nobody is laughing now.