Championing ‘The Female Fan’: SEASON Knows the Score
Crossing fashion with football, this London-based platform captures the stories of passionate female fans to redefine problematic gender norms in the industry.
Women like football. Some women will watch the game at home; others will hold season tickets for their favorite club. Yes, there are varying degrees of fandom, but women like football nonetheless. That’s just a fact. So why is it still so hard to be a female fan today? The simple answer: stereotype.
First, people question how ‘real’ you are as a fan because of your gender, assuming that you’re only interested in the sport because your dad or your boyfriend watches it. Then there are the ‘babe shots’ – sexualized photos of female ‘fans’.
Driven by the desire to address the hypermasculine nature of the football industry and to kill off the stereotypes once and for all, SEASON was launched in 2016 to champion the female fan and underline the fact that the sport isn’t purely a male domain. GamePlan A sat down with Founder Felicia Pennant and Creative Producer Manda Wilks to discuss what this niche platform is all about.
What inspired you to create SEASON zine? What are you trying to achieve?
As a female football fan, people are always trying to test you just because of your gender, and I just thought that the idea of the football industry as a very male-centric environment needed to change. The aim is to recognize the ways in which fashion and women can contribute to the contemporary landscape of football, while unpacking important issues, emphasizing inclusivity and collaborating with exciting creative talent.
While we’re still a minority, we’re sizeable enough that we should be more included. We need to work together to change people’s attitudes.
Why do you think a magazine is the best way to do this? What makes SEASON so unique?
There’s been some pushback against sexism in football, especially on social media. We wanted to tackle the issue from a more creative angle and vocalize our resistance in a more tangible way, especially in the digital age we live in.
Print has an extra special, collectable sentiment in our digital age. Format-wise SEASON zine is a cross between a football fanzine and a fashion magazine, drawing on football’s rich history of fan-made publications, but elevating it with an editorial aesthetic.
Trying to get our point across in a magazine also allows us to collaborate with many people, which has exposed us to lots of interesting perspectives on themes, concepts, and design.
It really gives you a lot more room for creativity – you can come at the topic from so many different angles. We’ve had a lot of people working with us who know loads about football, or have an eye for fashion, or just want to be part of shaping the female identity in the industry.
If SEASON is about giving women more of a presence in mainstream football media, do you only want to put across an all-female perspective?
While SEASON zine is female-focused, we want it to be a space for everyone, including men.
Nothing has ever been exclusive at SEASON – men have been involved since day one. We have male contributors, designers, and photographers who really believe in what we do.
I think it’s important that the things we do aren’t split down the middle – there should be equal opportunities for both men and women to enjoy football and fashion. That’s why we’re combining the two and opening it up to everyone.
How do you think the political climate today has affected the issue of gender equality in the sports industry?
Football has always had a waiver because it’s seen as entertainment, so people don’t usually think about the wider repercussions of their words or actions. It’s often overlooked as a site for discrimination.
With movements like #MeToo, you can see a huge change in how people perceive women’s rights today and you can tell that opinions about gender equality in sports mirrors this shift. Ultimately, SEASON is trying to add a new dimension to the wider political conversation about women and gender equality in society, but we need a genuine appetite for change.
It sounds like SEASON has a lot of potential. What’s next?
We want to continue creating a tight-knit community through new issues, various events and through our social media channels.
Ultimately, we can be an important vehicle for collaboration and creating a safe space for football lovers. The vision was to create a strong voice for female fans, but we’ve evolved so much from when we started. It’s an entirely different beast now so we could go in any direction, but I think the most important thing is for people to know that SEASON will always be a platform that includes everyone.
While the road to diversifying the male-centric nature of football may not be a smooth one, it’s clear that SEASON are steadily giving female fans the recognition and visibility they deserve. By building up a tight-knit community and spotlighting the unique stories, experiences, and viewpoints of women who love the sport, they’re finally showing that being a female footie fan doesn’t mean you need to wear a pink V-neck jersey.