In recent times, the influence of public figures on society has become more evident than ever before. When those in positions of power or authority exhibit inappropriate behaviour, it can have far-reaching consequences on individuals and communities. The behaviour of the Spanish Football Association (FA) president at the FIFA Women's World Cup 2023 serves as a stark reminder of how actions at the top can inadvertently encourage men all over the world to engage in inappropriate conduct.
The Power of Role Models
Role models hold a significant place in shaping societal norms and values. The president of a national sports association, like the Spanish FA, is inherently a role model for countless individuals, particularly aspiring athletes and fans. Their actions and words can set the tone for what is considered acceptable behaviour. When such figures display inappropriate behaviour, it sends a dangerous message that this behaviour is condoned or even celebrated.
The behaviour of influential figures can normalise actions that are otherwise considered inappropriate or disrespectful. The Spanish FA president's inappropriate conduct towards Spanish player, Jenni Hermoso after her team won the World Cup, has contributed to desensitising people to such actions. This normalisation erodes the boundaries of appropriate behaviour, leading individuals to believe that their actions will go unchallenged or even applauded. I dread to think about what actions the President deems to be appropriate behind the scenes, when on a global stage, he chooses to kiss Jenni on the lips.
Reinforcing Gender Stereotypes
Inappropriate behaviour by public figures can also reinforce harmful gender stereotypes. When the President of a prominent organisation engages in actions that objectify or disrespect women, it perpetuates the notion that such behaviour is acceptable. Men worldwide may interpret this as validation for their own inappropriate conduct, using the behaviour of powerful figures to justify their actions and beliefs. I have heard so many comments suggesting that the President was over excited and just "proud to be Spanish" but we can not allow this behaviour to stand. It is unprofessional and quite frankly an abuse of power.
Society has made considerable strides in recent years towards creating a more inclusive and respectful environment for all genders. Inappropriate behaviour by influential men can undermine these efforts by portraying disrespect and objectification as acceptable behaviour. This, in turn, can slow down progress in achieving gender equality and respectful interactions between individuals.
The Responsibility of Leadership
Leadership comes with a responsibility to set an example for others. Those in prominent positions are expected to uphold values of respect, integrity, and fairness. When leaders fail to do so, it not only tarnishes their own reputation but also sends a damaging message to those who look up to them. Men all over the world may perceive the President's actions as a permission to act inappropriately, especially as they see him avoiding the proper consequences for his actions.
The behaviour of the Spanish FA president serves as a stark reminder of the far-reaching impact of inappropriate actions by influential figures. Men all over the world look up to public figures as role models and are influenced by their behaviour. It's crucial for leaders to recognise the weight of their actions and the message they send to society. By upholding values of respect, professionalism, inclusivity, and integrity, leaders can play a positive role in shaping a more respectful and equitable world for everyone.