By Joyce Rubotham
On a recent trip to Lidl with my children over the Easter break, we couldn’t help but notice the over-sized, in-your-face style advertising on the front of the store. Lidl are apparently, proud to support women in Sport, the poster read.
This slogan caught the attention of my nine year old son. “Why are they supporting women?” Followed by another equally astute question from my six year old daughter: “do women need extra help to do sport?”
It’s one of those occasions when children reveal their true wisdom. I explained that in the past sportswomen were sometimes not supported.
Which brought us to the next question; have we gone from a situation where women are not supported to one where men are not supported?
What kind of signal are we sending the next generation of sports people when Lidl advertises its support of one gender over another in a sport that both sexes play?
Of course it’s great news that Lidl has signed a sponsorship deal to give financial backing to Gaelic sports. But why have Lidl singled out women for this large patronising poster?
Aggressively promoting one gender excludes the other.
How would costumers of AIG feel if the insurer decided to take a similar approach? A large sign reading “AIG, proud to support men in sport”.
It would be as insulting and patronising as the one currently outside Lidl, which is why we will most likely never see such a sign.
In singling out women for support in this way, Lidl are perpetuating – not dispelling – the idea that women are sporting underdogs.
Do Irish women need this type of condescending “support” in their sporting pursuits?
— Lidl Ireland (@lidl_ireland) February 5, 2016
That there is an inequality between the sexes in sport is undeniable. RSVP magazine reported last year that male GAA players can earn up to 10,000 Euro a year in commercial appearances.
Lady players rarely attract any interest or revenue for the same type of work.
The hierarchy and administration of the GAA has traditionally been a male-dominated environment. Liz Howard was the first woman to be elected as an (PRO) officer by the Tipperary county board in March 1980.
The GAA’s first female chairperson, Roisin Jordan was not elected in Tyrone until last year. The GAA is slowly changing and it is women like these that are making it happen.
Lidl is at least one generation behind the times if they think that it is acceptable to advertise their cynical promotion of women in sport.
Changing attitudes and equality are being brought about by women like Katie Taylor and Sonia O’Sullivan to name but a few. It is not Lidl’s attempted commercialisation of the women’s movement in a bid to boost their own image and sales that will make changes.
Support of sporting activities does not need to be gender-based. It is no longer forward-thinking to support women in sport, it is not something to advertise.
It is quite simply just normal. The same as supporting men.
Moving away from a situation whereby it is special or fashionable to support women will be the hallmark of true progression.
Girls have been out-performing boys in state exams for many years, the trend continues on into third level. Would LIDL think of sponsoring boys in special needs classes? Would LIDL put up a poster at the shop front advertising that they are proud to “support boys in education”? Quite obviously not.
The very notion is ridiculous and insulting. We all support boys in education, as we do girls.
This fact is not for advertisement or promotion. It is just so basic that boys and girls should both be supported equally in both academic and sporting activities.
Lidl’s crude poster does not help bring about equality between the sexes. Instead of helping to close the gender gap, this poster is a cynical attempt to exploit it for commercial purposes.