Rumours of the death of sexism have been greatly exaggerated. Now that Sky Sports presenters Andy Gray and Richard Keys are reduced to playing with themselves in the changing room, the world has supposedly been made safe for feminists. Laugh, I nearly did.
At the risk of boring everyone who knows the details, Gray and Keys lost their jobs after videoclips were leaked of them making disparaging comments to and about women. Regarding lineswoman Sian Massey, the pair questioned any woman's ability to understand the offside rule. Was anyone else reminded of those ads that imply men can't wash dishes without making a botch of it? But double standard aside, how can such a cliche have such power to offend? When someone says, "Girls don't understand offside," you feel much as you do when someone says, "Paddy Englishman Paddy Irishman Paddy Scotsman..."
Another few dozen brain cells are lost to chronic boredom, but it's intended to be 'funny', so you prepare a polite smile. Keys also said, "Do me a favour, love" in response to an article complaining of sexism by Karren Brady, West Ham vice-chairwoman. Brady wrote: "Over the past few weeks for the first time in my life I am experiencing sexism at its rankest." (Italics mine; dubious use of "rankest" not mine, thank you.) On Tuesday Gray lost his £1.7m a year job after a clip that was leaked of him inviting Charlotte Jackson, fellow presenter and sometime 'stunna', to tuck a microphone pack down his trousers. Jackson was stone-faced. Her look said: "This is not the first pervy old geezer I've had to contend with and he won't be the last." There was no suggestion she complained of sexual harassment. I mean, can you be accused of objectifying someone who's already done such a bang-up job of objectifying herself?
Keys quit the following day after footage emerged of him teasing fellow pundit Jamie Redknapp about his ex-girlfriend, asking him, "Did you smash it?" This, because it was leaked, broke the primary rule of male-female interaction: namely, that it's best if we don't know how they talk about us in private, and vice versa. Keys spent an hour apologising on BBC's Talksport. Kneel on sugar, boy. The whole thing came as a blow to women who like soccer – it doesn't like you back! – and grew into an argument about sexism generally.
Somehow, uncouth remarks by football types off-air became the pinnacle of western misogyny. Really? Some men are grunts, hold the front page? It's okay now, the grunts are gone... Really? Sky recruits female sports presenters for their looks – heck, why bother with the word 'sports' there? – and female sports presenters go along with it. Charlotte Jackson is happy to be photographed in only her knickers. So we want someone fired for being creepy around women but self-motivated glamour girls are fine?
Women who follow soccer don't appear to mind the fact that it's a man's game. No, stop shouting. Footballers are men, and most pundits are men, being former footballers. Neither do female fans appear to mind the fact that men don't repay the compliment. If it ever happens that men will pay to watch women kicking a ball around, female commentators – earning £1.7m a year, naturally – might say: what's the world coming to?
Admittedly, I speak as someone for whom the very definition of sexism is that, any time a man hits a ball, anywhere, we all have to hear about it all bloody weekend. Fortunately the world has now been made relatively safe for men who feel the same, though not entirely. Charlotte Jackson (I'm not picking on her – she's just a convenient stereotype) once complained about an ex-boyfriend who only watched soccer because she wanted to. "He was a man," she said, "so he should have wanted to." Now who's antediluvian?
In a similar vein, a woman on Newstalk explained the offside rule with an analogy about shoe-shopping. I ask you. By all means, fire ahead and imply that women can only understand offside if you make it about shoe-shopping, but don't come running to me complaining of typecasting.
A man like Andy Gray doesn't discover that sexism isn't cool until the day dawns when no woman will sleep with him because of it. He has five children by four women. No sign of that day yet, then. Do us a favour, love: if you're looking for the road to full gender equality, I wouldn't start here.
Microsoft has revealed sagging profits. Boring, yes, but I really want to go somewhere stupid with this. Revenues grew in its entertainment division, but in its Windows division they fell by 30% to (a measly) $5bn. Obviously it's too soon, but having waited years for a chance to say it: could this mean curtains for Windows?
Jennifer Sleeman, the 81-year-old Cork woman who organised a boycott of Sunday mass last year, has announced she's running for election (ah!). But she's entering the electoral black hole by declaring for the Greens (oh). ow she'll never be seen again. What a waste of a good woman.
Meanwhile, David McWilliams has denied all those reports that he was planning to run as an independent in Dun Laoghaire. "I am not a politician, unfortunately," he said. What does he mean, "unfortunately"?
Speculation grows that people are only buying tickets for Spider-Man, the most expensive Broadway musical in history, in the hope that they will see one or two of the cast falling and breaking their heads. What goes around comes around for Bono and the Edge, who wrote the score. You save on tax, you get screwed for insurance.
Una Mullally is on leave