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When We Got DM’ed by Poet: A Masterclass in Denial, Self-Importance and Gaslighting

If you aren’t aware of the storm around COPA90, Poet and the surfacing of misogynistic and homophobic tweets yet, here’s a quick update for you:

This week football365 revealed past tweets from Poet detailing his thoughts and attitudes towards women, spoiler: they weren’t great.  

Poet responded by posting on his instagram that he was leaving COPA and thanked all the people who had come out in support of him. This post was later mysteriously deleted and COPA announced they had suspended him until Tuesday.

We’ve been posting and talking about this all week, and like many others we received a direct response in our DMs from COPA, CTRL+C, CTRL+V style.

We took the opportunity to open conversation with COPA and asked them tell us what work they are going to do educate within and what commitment they would make to breaking down misogyny, at a time when they’re announcing their commitment to women’s football.

We have not received a reply, or even an acknowledgement of our message.

In the midst of this, we were surprised to get some DMs from Poet himself, and for a second we were hopeful that he might have been reaching out to have an honest conversation with us. But we were quite quickly disappointed.

We were presented with a guy who was unwilling to be open, who told us we were constantly getting him wrong, misinterpreting him, and that we were disrespectful.

Despite some reservations, we’re showing you our conversation, because we wanted to highlight the truth of how far Poet really thinks he should be held accountable, and how comfortable he is with deflecting his own wrongdoing.

We were not the only women online calling out the misogyny, and due to COPA’s strategy of replying directly to criticism with a copy and pasted message our friends Shireen Ahmed and @_BabsJ have been subjected to inexcusable online abuse from men defending Poet. Poet’s messages to us immediately attempt to discredit Shireen and people associated with Football365, as if this would in someway lessen his wrongdoing.

*For the sake of space we have not included all of the screenshots he sent us, as there were many more, including some from writers associated with Football365, some examples included: “Ahh Women’s Gymnastics. Time for a coffee, some breakfast, and a game of fit or fifteen?” @mikepaulvox and “Muslims playing it and women trying to stop us watching it are the biggest threats facing cricket today” @tickerscricket. As with Poet’s tweets, and as we told him, we stand against these awful, sexist and islamophobic tweets.

Someone’s past actions do not and should not define their present and future, we are all capable of learning and change. What we want to see is actions, show us how you’ve changed. Poet’s messages clearly show how he is not willing to move past defensiveness and have honest conversation.

This conversation was frustrating. It’s not our job to educate Poet, but we thought he might been open to some genuine reflection. If we’re taking the time to talk to you after you’ve slid into our DMs, please don’t gaslight us. It’s insulting.

If brands like COPA want to start embracing women’s football in any real way, they must listen to women within this community, show us how you are actively changing your culture, be transparent in the ways you are learning.

As you can see, over the past week, we have commited considerable energy, time and thought in to responding to COPA and Poet; we have not seen the same energy put in to responding to our concerns.

Finally, we would like to express our solidarity with women like Shireen and @_BabsJ who have faced vile and inexcusable abuse online for publicly voicing their criticisms of COPA and Poet. Examples like theirs prove why it’s scary to call things out online as woman, particularly if you’re not white. It has been heartening to see people coming together in support for them. The world of football loves a bit of toxic masculinity and it needs to be shut down, so let’s be critical of our scene and critical of ourselves too.