The famous ‘WAGs picture’ of England players’ wives and girlfriends at the 2006 World Cup (Image: Ian Vogler)
Get email updates with the day’s biggest stories
Invalid EmailSomething went wrong, please try again later.Sign upWhen you subscribe we will use the information you provide to send you these newsletters. Your information will be used in accordance with ourPrivacy Notice.Thank you for subscribingWe have more newslettersShow meSee ourprivacy notice
What started as a joke isn’t funny any more, if indeed it ever was. Euro 2020 and the G7 summit have made it crystal clear: the term WAG needs to be banned, once and for all.
The practice of a woman’s identity being solely defined by her husband is gross and offensive. It’s one of those old fashioned, outdated customs that, one day, we’ll be incredulous we ever accepted – like women not being allowed to vote, or getting equal pay.
It’s hard not to notice that there’s no male equivalent to WAG. There never has been, or more than a brief, very weak attempt to make HAB a thing. This is actually one area where the royal family are uncharacteristically progressive – the most high-profile HAB we’ve ever had was the Duke of Edinburgh, the plus one to his star attraction wife for 73 years.
Yet he was permitted to have his own identity, awards and a personality, albeit a couple of steps behind hers.
The 2006 World Cup made the word WAG part of everyday vocabulary, of course – Victoria Beckham, Cheryl Cole et al in Baden Baden. That the majority of those women had successful careers in their own right, some with media profiles higher than the men they were there to support meant, apparently, nothing. They only existed because their husbands and boyfriends did. Everything else about them was irrelevant in that context.
At least the ‘people who currently happen to be in relationships with footballers alongside everything else they have going on in their lives’ (admittedly less catchy than WAG, but accurate, and – bonus – not insulting) have a reason to be there. Football’s a spectator sport, and they’re far from the only ones sitting on the sidelines cheering the players on.
The partners of politicians going to work with them is embarrassing for all involved. What, really, was the point of Carrie Johnson and Jill Biden attending the G7 Summit? It didn’t help anyone – in fact, it could be argued it set women back – to have them playing with a baby on the beach while the men were busy dealing with the important stuff. But don’t you worry your pretty little heads about any of that, ladies.
Presumably it’s extremely tedious for the wives, too – those forced perma-grins fooled no-one – even before they’re wheeled out as some kind of frivolous light relief from the serious business of the day. And why does that need to happen, anyway? So we can discuss essential matters like what they’re wearing, and whether they bought or rented it? Give me strength.
Angela Merkel – the only female member of the G7 – did bring her husband, Joachim Sauer, to Cornwall last week, by the way. It was one of the few times the renowned theoretical chemist, who refuses to give interviews about anything other than his work, has accompanied her on a trip. He did not, needless to say, lark about with a kid in the sand for the cameras.
But the final nail in the coffin of the WAG? It will be most inconvenient for Boris Johnson. If it’s removed from modern parlance immediately, he’ll never be able to argue that the term made him genuinely believe he was allowed to have both.