Friday, 13 January 2012

Women are from Venus, Men are from Mars Hill

I've just been catching up on the latest Internet and media storm around the relationship between men and women. Once again someone has come out and made some surprising comments on the vexed subject of the respective roles of men and women. But it strikes me that the concept of "complementarity" is very important here.

Paul Jewell, I suspect, has just said something off the cuff and amusing. A journalist remarked about the penalty decision that  Amy Fearne didn't give for Ipswich that the crowd "to a man" would have given the penalty. Mr Jewell's response was to remark that - to a man, yes - but to a woman, no.

Now it could be argued that Jewell was just using a convenient way of picking out the assistant referee. It could be pointed out that when he referred to "the lineswoman, or whatever she's called" he was struggling in exactly the same way as every other person involved in football in the country as they say "linesman", then remember it's an "assistant referee or whatever they're called". For myself i'd suggest to FA two alternatives - either take a leaf out of the Fire Service and refer to them as "line-runners", or follow the universal and gender-neutral term that is actually used  across the country, and call them "lino".

But I digress. The whole argument, as I say, ignores the concept of complementarity. There are roles that must be held in such a way that they complement each other - not that one is more important and the other lesser (although they are) but that society may function in an orderly way. I refer, of course, to the relationship between referee and lino.

In the beginning it was ordained that the referee is the head of the team of officials, while the lino is subject to the ref's authority. We do not allow the lino to be in authority over the ref, for the referee's decision, no matter how wrong, is final. And we do not know the secrets of the conversations that take place between ref and lino. For all we know it had been ordained by Robert Lewis, the referee at the game, that the linos were to make no decisions other than offsides and whose throw-in it was. Some refs do this, and they are within their rights - though we may disagree with their views. But it does ensure that everyone knows their place. And if that were the case, then the responsibility for the non-penalty was thoroughly with the ref. The linos (both of them, male and female) were mere adornments on the side of the pitch in this case.

Now I like to think the best, so I'm going to assume Paul Jewell wasn't being sexist. I'm going to choose to believe that, like Diane Abbott tweeting, he fires off his thoughts without them actually going through the "thought" process. I'd like to think if the lino had been in possession of a Y chromosome then Paul's response would have been "obvious to a man - but not that man." For if history has taught us one thing, it is that  football managers are bad losers no matter who the officials are.

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