Search icon


29th Nov 2016

Eric Bristow’s twisted version of masculinity has no place in 2016

The darts player has since deleted his tweets.

Mike Wright

It really is hard to know where exactly to start when it comes to Eric Bristow’s utterly repugnant outburst about the victims of sexual abuse in football.

The appalling victim shaming, the blatant homophobia, the pathetic justification offered when he saw the outrage it provoked, or his perverse, archaic idea of being a ‘proper man’.

All rotten segments of a putrid attitude that takes issue with those who have been abused over their abusers.

An attitude that considers that the brave victims, who are now speaking out and coming forward, are not ‘proper men’ for allowing their ordeal to stand without retaliation.

A twisted version of masculinity. One that is part of the problem, not the solution when it comes to stopping child abuse.

At first Bristow’s rant started under the guise that so many vicious tropes of ‘masculinity’ do: as supposed humour.

In this case using the sexual abuse of children to insinuate football players were less masculine than other sportsmen.

EB 1

EB 2

EB 3

But then he dispensed with the faux humour and got to the nasty nub of his point: That the victims were not ‘proper men’ if they didn’t seek out their abusers as adults and exact violent retribution. That they should not be able to look themselves in the mirror.

EB 4

EB 7

He rounded off the unedifying screed with this grubby clarification.

EB 10

Bristow has since deleted most of the tweets, not before Sky dropped him from its darts coverage. But the damage had been done and the stench still lingers.

The professional darts player’s outburst seems to have stemmed from a valid question: How could this have happened for so long without being challenged.

His conclusion was utterly wrong.

The blame lies not with the victims for failing to turn vigilante as soon as physically possible. It lies with the abusers, who preyed on youngsters in their care.

It also lies with a society that created an atmosphere in which the victims felt they should not or could not speak out.

One in which they would have felt that they were somehow also at fault. That they too had done something wrong. One in which they were not ‘proper’ men for allowing their abuse to happen.

Or if they did speak out they did so in an atmosphere where they were minimised, ignored or just not believed.

Until now. Until brave men like Andy Woodward and David Lean waived their right to anonymity and spoke publicly about their ordeals so others would come forward; breaking down the wall of silence abusers rely upon.

Their actions have prompted in excess of 20 more people to come forward with allegations, starting five separate police investigations.

Their actions have taken unimaginable courage.

And any idea of masculinity that doesn’t recognise that has absolutely no place anymore.


Eric Bristow