Robbie Fowler’s simile was bad, not sexist

30 September 2013

Viewers of Saturday’s edition of Final Score on BBC 1 would have seen former Liverpool and England striker Robbie Fowler apologising (doubtless after a prompt from the voice in his ear-piece) for using the expression ‘like a couple of girls’. He was referring to Jan Vertonghen and Fernando Torres’s silly tussle during the 1-1 draw between Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea, in which Torres was harshly sent off.

Mr Steerpike is all for war on clichéd simile (and for telling preening footballers where to get off), but ‘like a couple of girls’ is not sexist. Fowler was picking at the pettiness of Vertonghen and Torres; he was not damning the massed ranks of the sisterhood or women’s football. As for the suggestion that his comment reveals a subliminal sexist attitude, come off it. ‘Like a couple of girls’ is an innocent phrase of the playground; a simple way to say that the two players were a nuisance. That’s all it reveals of Fowler’s mind.

A week tomorrow Lord Hall will outline his vision of the BBC’s future. Mr Steerpike wonders if his lordship will address the corporation’s tedious attitude to the inoffensive.

Give the perfect gift this Christmas. Buy a subscription for a friend for just £75 and you’ll receive a free gift too. Buy now.

Show comments
  • Teddy Bear

    A week ago cretinous Chris Evans thought it would be humorous to imitate Jimmy Savile on air. Despite justified complaints, the BBC made no response.

    But somebody using a phrase wherein everybody understands the imagery, and no sane person could find offensive, the BBC immediately calls for an apology.

    I suppose the commercial that uses Joan Collins to show just how much of a diva a particular sportsman gets when he doesn’t eat the product should also be banned – according to the BBC.

    Society here would be so better off if the BBC was closed down or sold off.

    • Kennybhoy

      Ceterum autem censeo BBC esse delendam.

  • Jambo25

    BBC Scotland suspended the pundit, Tam Cowan, from ‘Off the Ball’ for writing a slightly off-colour column taking the mickey out of women’s football, in the Daily Record last weekend.

    There seems to be a serious attempt at thought control going on from the BBC anti-sexism polis at present.

    • Angry Harry

      “There seems to be a serious attempt at thought control going on from the BBC anti-sexism polis at present.”

      It’s been going on for decades – not only at the BBC – the worst culprits – but in all mainstrream media organisations.

      Indeed, believe it or not, when the Daily Mail first came on online – some 9 years ago – even the mildest of antifeminist comments were blocked.

      • Jambo25

        I was banned from the Guardian (Where else?) merely for calling an article that spoke of Anglo-American women as being imprisoned in a ‘rape culture’, “A load of old femo nonsense.” Those were my exact words: no more, no less and they got me banned.

  • Angry Harry

    How many times have we heard BBC pundits refer disparagingly to “White-haired old men” when referring to politicians?

    No apologies demanded about this sort of sexism, I notice.

    • Jambo25

      Or ‘suits’.

  • keith

    would it not be simpler for the commissars at the BBC just to give their guests the prepared scripts to read from when they appeared it really is pathetic, if someone rang up complaining about that use of words they really do need to get out and get a life, what was worse is that Robbie fowler bowed to the dictate, he should have ignored them and repeated it, its not like he needs the BBCs shilling being a multi millionaire, just shows the power of those hidden voices

    • Angry Harry

      I once complained to the BBC about jokes being made about men in prison being raped.

      The reply that I received stated that the public in general did not find such jokes to be offensive and that, as such, the BBC would not censure those who made such jokes.

      When I pursued the matter and asked if jokes about women being raped were also OK with the BBC, I received no further replies.

  • S Ennis

    A few years back another bbc “pundit” Carlton Palmer bizarrely described a team’s performance as a “holocaust”. Recantation was there none, as far as I recall.

Can't find your Web ID? Click here