Saturday, November 15, 2008


During the World Cup 2006 (or was it the preceding European Championships? I forget), the term 'WAG' was introduced to refer to the Wives And Girlfriends of the England players. It has since been expanded to describe any wife or girlfriend of any person who plays any sport at almost any level (witness: Nicola McLean).

Now, at the time it was first introduced, the term was not unreasonable: the ladies in question were, at the time, playing a distinctly supporting role to their husbands and boyfriends, while the spotlight shone on their efforts.

What I don't understand, though, is why, absent that initial context, the term WAG is not considered horrifically offensive.

Here's the thing, a person cannot be a WAG in isolation. To be a Wife or Girlfriend, one necessarily must have a Husband or Boyfriend out there somewhere. Get divorced or dumped, and you lose the status.

In effect, therefore, to be a WAG is to be defined by the man in your life.

Contrast this with Cheryl Cole, probably the alpha WAG at present. Now, I'm certainly no fan of "Pop Stars: the Rivals", of Girls Aloud, "The X-Factor", or Cheryl herself, but the simple fact is that Girls Aloud have been extremely successful where virtually every other spawn of these talent shows have not, largely through some very hard work, and Cheryl herself has clearly been very canny in taking advantage of her opportunities.

And yet, label her a WAG, and she becomes nothing more than Ashley's wife.

Why is this considered acceptable? Why do so many girls aspire to this vaunted status? And why exactly are feminists not up in arms about it?

1 comment:

Chris said...

You are thinking deep thoughts on your holiday, Mr Stephen.

You are right, it is a bit strange.