“These things happen,” he said. “We have to move on.”
Isn’t it wonderful that Gayle is able to move on and put it all behind him?
Unfortunately for him, a tidal wave of women everywhere won’t let him do that. Because, as women, we can’t just move on from the latest example of everyday sexism. Because it is women and girls who most bear the brunt of this behaviour every day.
Sexism doesn’t just happen. It happens when sexist men make it happen.
And a “sorry” followed by “… if she felt that way” is not an apology. It’s victim blaming. Gayle says there was no harm done even when explicitly told his actions have harmed her (“she’s pretty upset”). He chastises the questioner, “be quiet and let me finish.”
Gayle doesn’t want to hear that this woman didn’t like his advances. His ego is damaged. He believed that because she was physically attractive and on his turf, she had to play by his rules. Her participation in sport as a woman, meant that she was inviting sexually loaded comments.
While others want to dismiss Gayle’s behaviour toward Ms McLaughlin as cheeky, as Gayle being Gayle (reminiscent of “boys being boys”) and (albeit it a short-lived tweet from Channel Ten’s sports account) “smooth,” others, including myself, won’t just let it go. Even when we are painted as overreacting and told to “calm down.” As my colleague Melinda Liszewski responded on Twitter: “Keep calm and let sexism win? I don’t think so.”
This is what Gayle said after being dismissed for 41 off 15 balls in the Melbourne Renegades’ win over the Hobart Hurricanes:
“I wanted to come and have an interview with you as well, that’s the reason why I’m here – just to see your eyes for the first time. It’s nice. So, hopefully we can win this game and we can have a drink after.”
This was not a bit of fun. It was an act of public humiliation on free-to-air television.
As McLaughlin showed her discomfort, Gayle laughed at her displeasure and chided, “Don’t blush baby.” Telling her not to blush was both condescending and infantilising. Also disturbing were the audible sniggers from the commentary booth at Gayle’s performance, demonstrating that this was not one man’s private flirtation with a woman but a public display for the lads.
Gayle held her captive. He made a pass at her against her will on national television. She had no choice but to take the humiliation – his admission he’d virtually fantasised about being interviewed by her, his mocking laugher, his verbal touch-up. It’s not enough for him to admire her quietly. He has to make it public and she has to know it.
Channel Nine reduced all this to Gayle and other cricketers being “smitten” in a (since deleted but helpfully cached by Google) tweet. Is it too much to expect that a woman can perform her professional duties without being hit upon?
Channel Ten boss David Barham said he phoned McLaughlin who was angry and upset. Why wouldn’t she be? She turns up to work and gets harassed. Those making light of it don’t know what it is like to have this happen.
Respected Fox Sports journalist Neroli Meadows angrily described what it’s like to be harassed every day in your working life. She blasted Gayle for his behaviour, describing him as a repeat offender:
“He’s done it before, he’s done it to me, he’s done it to several women … It happens, situations likes that, 10 times a day when you’re a female in this sports industry and that’s just a fact.
“We do not need that to happen to us in our workplace because that is what it is, our workplace and Mel has been doing her job for 10 to 15 years and she has done it with respect. Her career now gets defined by this.
“The same thing has happened to me, the same thing has happened to Yvonne Sampson at Channel Nine, the same thing to Erin Molan at Channel Nine. We have successful careers and they get defined by idiots saying the wrong thing, inappropriate and then other people laughing as though it’s the one thing that has ever happened. Of course it’s not.”
An extreme outworking of disrespect for female sports reporters that is endemic to sports journalism, especially in the United States, is a practice where random men shout over a female sports reporter’s live piece to camera “I would f–k her right in the pussy” – which now has its own FHRITP meme.
Gayle’s response give an insight into how high-profile men hate being called out on their behaviour. In essence, his attitude is I’m allowed to be a pig and you’re not allowed to call me on it.
The former Cities Minister Jamie Briggs demonstrated this when he forwarded an image of the young public servant who made a confidential complaint about him, to his mates (one of whom leaked it to The Australian and who knows where else). This was followed by Immigration Minister Peter Dutton’s “mad f—ing witch” text, sent to News Limited journalist Samantha Maiden.
Women who speak out are to be shamed and made to heel.
We still have a long way to go before rhetoric in high places about respect for women results in a change in behaviour nationally. Sexism continues unabated at every level of culture and we’re still expected to take it as a compliment. Not to do so means you are weird.
Following an interview I did on Channel Seven’s Sunrise program yesterday regarding Briggs and Dutton, I received messages on my public profile Facebook page that my response was an overreaction. That I should preserve my anger for serious matter like rape, abuse and violence. But these behaviours occur on a continuum which begins with a lack of respect for women.
As Our Watch states, the most consistent predictor of support of violence by men is their agreement with sexist attitudes. And Victoria’s Police Chief Ken Lay has said: “Our culture is filled with men who hold an indecent sense of entitlement towards women…”
In most schools I address around the country, girls describe unwanted comments about their bodies, being pressured for sexual images, being touched inappropriately in the classroom and on the school bus. Some of these girls are 12 and 13.
The behaviour of public figures such as sportsmen and public officials trickles down to influence the boys who go onto harm girls. Attitudes affect behaviour. Sexism begets sexism.
That’s why, Chris Gayle, we won’t be moving on and putting what you did this week behind us anytime soon. (Nor, it seems, will Gayle’s club. The Renegades have now lobbed a $10,000 fine on him for his behaviour.)
One of the most moving experiences I have had a speaker addressing young people around the country, took place about a year ago when a Year 11 student in a WA secondary school stood to his feet during the discussion time following my talk on how our culture shaped boys views of themselves in negative ways.
Visibly distressed, this young man recounted that his brother had just taken his life with a drug overdose, that he had been bullied every day of his life, and that he had no friends. He began to cry.
From the front of the hall where the boys were gathered, another student stood, walked to the back of the room, and hugged his crying classmate.
I had to leave the room for a while to pull myself together.
It is rare to see this display of emotion – and the open expression of care – between boys and their peers.
However, my colleagues and I are increasingly witnessing more boys wanting to connect with their emotions, looking for permission to be allowed to express themselves, wanting to rise up against culture norms which train them in a brutalised version of masculinity.
Now comes a film which will help them do just that.
The Mask You Live In, by US documentary filmmaker Jennifer Siebel Newsom, follows boys and young men as they struggle to stay true to themselves while negotiating society’s narrow definition of masculinity. It follows on from the ground-breaking 2011 film Miss Representation, which put the spotlight on female stereotypes and which Collective Shout helped bring to Australia).
Pressured by the media, their peer group, and many adults in their lives, young men in the film confront messages encouraging them to be cut off from their emotions, devalue authentic friendships, objectify and degrade women, and which teach them that they can solve problems through violence.
As well as the boys themselves, we hear from experts in neuroscience, psychology, sociology, sports, education, and media, offering empirical evidence on the “boy crisis” and tactics to combat it.
The film explores how common phrases like be a man, be tough, don’t be a pussy, a win-at-all-costs sports culture, violent video games, and lack of emotional vocabulary, is encouraging boys to repress their emotions.
Newsom examines the frightening results of those messages. Her film looks at the high rates of violence, alcohol and drug abuse, mental health issues, suicide, and poor relationship skills, affecting many young men.
Asked what impact Newsom hoped The Mask You Live In will have on people, she replied:
I’m hopeful and pretty confident that The Mask You Live In is really a catalyst for a national conversation around healthy whole masculinity that we’re in dire need of having. Masculinity has increasingly been about aggression, dominance, control and power, and so many young boys find that unnatural and uncomfortable but feel this pressure to conform. The more we as adults model healthy masculinity, the healthier our boys can be. Ultimately we have to really support our boys and help them not to repress their emotions and help them to stay true to themselves. We’re all born sensitive and we’re all born empathic. Some studies indicate boys are born more sensitive slightly at birth than girls, but then we socialize that out of them. So it is critical that we not socialize our boys in a way that’s ultimately destructive or harmful to them being themselves.
I’ve seen the film twice now, in Melbourne and Adelaide. It is the most powerful examination and exploration of this issue of masculinity I have seen to date. As the co-author of Big Porn Inc: exposing the harms of the global pornography industry, (Spinifex Press, 2011), and involved in running workshops with boys on the issue, I was especially pleased to see the film include a segment on how pornography is shaping and moulding men and boys attitudes and behaviours toward women and girls and how it is destructive of respect-based relationships.
But The Mask You Live In doesn’t just showcase the crisis in masculinity in our culture – it goes on to explore positive ways forward. Men and boys are depicted exploring their feelings and sharing openly, in the moving final stages of the film. I kept thinking of all the men and boys, including my 21 year-old son, who I wanted to see it). While the film was made in the US, it is of great relevance in Australia.
It is my hope this film will be mandatory viewing for every boy in secondary school. I believe this film comes at a critical time and is a major intervention in at least starting a conversation in how we have failed boys and men and the urgent need to redefine masculinity – to help young men value inner strength, integrity, courage, leadership and social bonds, above the aggressive, domineering, anger-driven versions of masculinity which they’re sold now.
If we let it, The Mask You Live In could help us turn this terrible situation around and raise a healthier generation of boys and young men.
Woman’s Health Magazine editor Felicity Harley had said in response to the furore: “It is disappointing that this has become the focus rather than the phenomenal sporting talents of our Australian female athletes.”
And why do you think that was Felicity? It’s you and Women’s Health who caused this to be the case by sending spectacularly conflicting messages about what you valued in women. If it’s ‘phenomenal sporting talent’ you’re interested in, why pay four topless women to turn up? Were we supposed to overlook these almost-naked painted models parading at a signature event supposedly celebrating the sporting achievements of female athletes?
Since then, as the social media condemnation grew and Danielle Warby, a board director of the Australian Women Sport and Recreation Association, ramped things up with this piece, Women’s Health was forced into an apology.
The fact that at least one man admitted on Women’s Health Facebook page to getting off on the images shows how wrong they got it.
Initial reports left out the image of the model representing Cathy Freeman, painted in her designer one-piece Olympic running suit and she was not referred to. Perhaps this was to protect her dignity, I’m not sure. However, this insult to Freeman must be named. Of the four, her replica is the most recognisable.
I have some questions for Women’s Health. Where did you find the models? Who was the agency? Did Women’s Health make deliberate specifications regarding women’s breast size, for example? Who was hired to painted their bodies (including the logos just above one of the model’s nipples)? Who were the models hired to entertain exactly?
It’s one thing when men do this to women (most of the time). But when women facilitate the objectification of women and do so under a banner of celebrating sporting achievement, it’s even more depressing. Have sexualised representations of women, including women who have achieved greatly, become so normal and mainstream that even women editors of a popular women’s health magazine didn’t see a problem?
The Women’s Health Australia “I support women in sport awards” was held this week to recognise the achievements of Australia’s female athletes.
Women’s Health editor Felicity Harley said the night was “all about giving recognition and telling the stories of Australian sportswomen, who don’t get enough coverage for their efforts and talents.”
A worthy goal indeed. Harley is right – sportswomen don’t get enough coverage for their talents and efforts. The sexual objectification of female athletes is a long-standing problem in our culture which continues to have a negative impact on the health and well-being of women and girls and limits their participation in sport.
This makes the decision to hire topless women for the event – wearing only underpants and body paint -even more bizarre.
Female athletes and advocates for women in sport were quick to call out Women’s Health Magazine for reinforcing the sexual objectification of women in sport:
Danielle Warby, a board director of the Australian Womensport and Recreation Association asked Women’s Health editor Felicity Harley for an explanation. Harley responded by dodging responsibility and blaming the media.
Harley also hasn’t explained why Women’s Health Australia hired naked models.
Speaking to the SMH, Warby said “The sexualisation of women in sport is a massive issue,”…”These women are not athletes, they are naked and I don’t know why they are there.”
Here’s why this is important:
Sexual objectification undermines women and girls equal participation in sport.
Focusing on an athlete’s physical attributes in an overtly sexual manner can create anxiety and embarrassment for the individual. This may be compounded by a heightened body awareness already present in many female athletes. If the athlete does not feel she ‘measures up’ to an external judgment of her physique, her self-esteem may suffer.
A potential consequence of lowered self-esteem is compromised athletic performance. The athlete becomes distracted both on and off the arena of sport, and may be tempted into unhealthy eating habits. In younger athletes, where self-confidence may be less secure, the increased focus on the body because of sexploitation can lead to a poor body image. There is a wealth of research linking poor body image with increased risk of eating disorders or disordered eating behaviours.
(source: Jan Borrie, Shaping up to the image makers, Panorama, The Canberra Times, 27 May 2000)
A Magazine titled “Women’s Health” should know better than to pull a stunt like this. Our elite female athletes – and the young aspiring athletes looking to follow their example – deserve better.
Take Action! Make your voice heard – Tweet, Facebook or email
Tweet Womens Health Magazine @womenshealthaus
Tweet Australian Government is included amoung the sponsors of the event. Contact the Minister for Health and Sport Peter Dutton. @PeterDutton_MP
We continue to be sold a line by the promoters and profiteers of Legends Football League (better known as Lingerie Football League, the re-branding means little) that this is a legitimate sport.
Let’s see what the fans think. Here’s a snag of their comments taken at 4.15pm today. Only one comment refers to a player’s talent.
Sportswoman daughter rejected at last minute for being ‘too fat’: dad speaks out
Randy send this comment to Collective Shout’s Open Letter on the LFL. Read it and see the way his daughter was treated and why he no longer supports LFL.
Posted 9 Dec ’13 at 8:10 pm |
Until Saturday night 8 December I was a staunch supporter of the “rebranded” LFL. That was until my daughter who flew to Sydney to represent her State was told that she was not approved to wear the uniform. Previously that month she had submitted a bikini photo as required so that her body shape could approved to wear their skimpy gym outfit. Now she has no problem with the lack of uniform and has for the last 18 months lived for nothing but LFL. At 18 years old and coming from an elite swimming background she wanted to play a team sport that challenged her and she thought LFL was it. Well at the end of the day it does not matter how good you are, if Mitch Mortaza thinks your too fat to wear his uniform. Since the debacle on Saturday night my daughter has been contacted by the coach of the NSW Surge with words of encouragement . My daughter is a large framed girl, that’s why she is unstoppable in defence or so we have been told by many who have seen her. So why would you bench a player who would do nothing but promote the sport as a real game, simple Mitch Mortaza and his cronies only want skinny women in his skimpy uniforms. Sure my daughter is not a size 8, 10 or even 12 for that matter. But she is a very athletic and lethal size 14 and had she played on Saturday night there would a few NSW players hurting still.
Keep adult entertainment off the footy field
Michelle Dean lives in WA and has been speaking out against the Lingerie (Legends) Football League. Here she tells us what she has been doing to stand against sexploitation of women’s sport.
When I became aware of the LFL and exactly what it involved I knew I had to voice my complaint about how demeaning and objectifying it is to women and girls.
I initially contacted the Department of Sport and Recreation in WA. I asked what requirements or processes there are for a sport to set up and be considered legitimate here in WA (with particular reference to the LFL). They advised:
“There is no state government process; the approval process for events rests with the venue/land owners. This is based around the venue owner operator insuring (sic) that the event they are approving in their venue does not break any laws or health regulations. Whilst the activity may be seen as poor taste and sexist it does not breach any laws or regulations. It is therefore up to the venue to determine if suitable to be linked to their venue”. Read more here
The NRL claims to care about treating women equally and eliminating sexism
So how does the Penrith Panther’s official partnership with the LFL help girls and women feel included and not valued only for their bodies? (me and my colleagues have been asking this question of the NRL on twitter, with no reply).
When the Lingerie Football League (LFL) announced that it was starting the year with some big changes, I wondered whether they were finally going to do something really radical. Perhaps like paying their players. Or could it be that they were going to stop making the women sign ‘accidental nudity’ clauses?
But no, apparently not.
Last month LFL Founder Mitch Mortaza announced a name change: from the ‘Lingerie Football Club – True Fantasy Football’ to ‘Legends Football Club – Women of the Gridiron’.
On the LFL website Mortaza claimed that all ‘sexy’ branding had been removed from their logos and the player’s lingerie had been replaced with ‘performance wear.’
“While the Lingerie Football League name has drawn great media attention allowing us to show case the sport to millions, we have now reached a crossroad of gaining credibility as a sport or continuing to be viewed as a gimmick. In the coming years we will further establish this sport in the US, Australia, Europe and Asia as the most known form of American football globally. In order to reach the next milestone, we feel the focus has to be the sport and our amazing athletes.”
Now before we go throwing our hands in the air to cheer for Mortaza, let’s have a look at exactly what these ‘modifications’ look like.
Does Mortaza expect us to believe that a few less ruffles and fringing really change what the LFL stands for? Looking at the old and new outfits side by side, there appears very little difference. Gone are the garters and lingerie, but only to be replaced with what appears to be the same outfit – minus the bows – leaving the players still mostly unprotected and at risk of injury. The new official LFL video shows that the ogling the women is still their main tactic, as the camera operator slowly pans up the player’s bodies, from their feet to their crotch and breasts.
Here is what we know of the LFL so far:
Mortaza exploits college-aged women for little or no pay and refuses to provide protective uniforms.
Since 2009 the LFL has drawn much controversy for its treatment of the female players. As discussed in my article ‘The Lingerie Football League – Let’s not pretend it’s about sport’, I revealed how the LFL requires their players to sign accidental nudity clauses, doesn’t pay its players, refuses to provide injury compensation and fines the women if they put any protective gear under their lingerie.
LFL Chairman Mitch Mortaza has admitted to choosing image over athleticism.
Mortaza and his team have admitted on several occasions that image is central to his selection of players, and the majority of the women are college level athletes who would have no hope of playing on a national level without the LFL – a card which Mortaza plays expertly. I believe that Mortaza chooses these women with the express intentions of exploiting their desperation to be a recognised athlete.
“The women who play for the league are former college-level athletes that have few other alternatives if they want to continue to compete at a high level in women’s sport… These are competitive college-level athletes looking to tap back into a national stage”.(see here)
Despite Mortaza’s promise in 2011 that his players would be paid once the LFL became “financially stable”, we are still yet to hear any credible news of this happening. It would seem that even with all their success as the ‘Nation’s fastest growing sports league’ and airplay in over 85 countries, the only one that profits is Mortaza.
Some of the LFL’s biggest players have themselves revealed that they recognize the inequality within the league, but feel they have little choice if they want the chance to play on a national level. In an interview with CBC radio in 2012 Tampa Breeze Florida player Liz Gorman expressed her frustrations.
CBC: “You don’t get paid?
Gorman: “No…it does get frustrating.”
CBC: “It sounds like you’re doing it because you love to play football and you want to play, and you accept the other sacrifices that come with it.”
Gorman: “Yeah…(silent for some time)…Sex sells. It’s a business. We don’t get the same media as men… so it’s obviously not the players that are choosing this.”
Evidence of harassment towards women, physical violence, nudity, verbal abuse and the use of blow up dolls were all witnessed during LFL events.
Attending the Sydney event last year, Collective Shout’s Deborah Malcolm witnessed a contest named ‘chase and tackle the girl’ where men were invited onto the field to chase and grope the players; the humiliation of a female player who lost her bikini bottoms during a touchdown and then had the image replayed on a large screen for the viewing pleasure of the male audience; and the use of a blow up doll which was passed around the bleachers while men simulated oral sex on it.
Mortaza’s disrespectful treatment of the women was exposed firsthand when 23 year old student and athlete Tal Stone tried out for the games. Stone described how she and the other women were screamed at and abused by Mortaza, told to ‘pancake the shit’ out of each other, to ‘stop wasting his fucking time’ and repeatedly called ‘pussies’; all while the LFL players ran alongside the girls making ‘vagina’ signs over their heads. As Stone explained, this wasn’t a game built to showcase talent or athleticism. It was a gimmick that encouraged violence and humiliation towards the players, whilst making money from them.
I fail to understand how a few less bows and ruffles on the players uniforms and the addition of thicker shoulder pads changes any of the behaviour we have seen so far from the LFL. So forgive me if I do not throw my hands in the air and applaud them for their supposed renewed focus on sports women’s performance.
In light of their poor sales at the 2012 Australian games and the storm of controversy surrounding the league, it is not surprising that Mortaza is scraping to find a way to rehash the LFL in Australia. However, the Legends Football League is nothing more than a pathetic attempt to make advertisers feel less uncomfortable. Nothing really has changed.
There is a positive alternative – Gridiron team the Western Foxes
As the AFL Finals get into full swing, the Melbourne Press Club will be holding its annual Footy Finals Lunch on Thursday 20th September. OurSay is working with the Melbourne Press Club to give you the chance to put forward a question for the panel.
“The AFL’s Respect and Responsibility Policy ‘represents the Australian Football League’s commitment to addressing violence against women and to work towards creating safe, supportive and inclusive environments for women and girls across the football industry as well as the broader community’. Hawthorn player Lance ‘Buddy’ Franklin is part owner of Nena and Pasadena and Neverland (clothing) store, a brand renowned for clothing with sexually objectifying and degrading imagery of women. Franklin currently features in promotional videos and images both on the brand’s website and in national clothing retailers like City Beach. Despite protests, the AFL have failed to address Franklin’s continued breach of the R&R policy. Why has the AFL failed to address this?”
Will we get more AFL spin? Will the sporting body that gives money to the White Ribbon campaign against violence against women continue to demonstrate it doesn’t really care that one of its key players trades in objectified and degrading images of women?
WHEN a man plays gridiron – or American football – he is dressed for maximum protection to ensure safety in a game known for its raw physicality. His body is covered, with little exposed flesh, to minimise injury.
It’s not the kind of game a man would consider playing in his underwear. That would just be dumb, right?
But it seems rules are different if you are a woman playing for the Lingerie Football League (LFL).
The less clothing the better. In fact, it’s a requirement of the game.
The US LFL began as half-time entertainment for regular NFL games on Super Bowl Sunday. Now it masquerades as a serious event in its own right, complete with garters, suspender belts and skimpy underwear designed for maximum exposure.
Now the LFL is exporting its special brand of sporting sex-ploitation, with promotional matches in Brisbane and Sydney in June and July and an official launch in 2013.
And the whole family is invited! Brisbane Entertainment Centre and Allphones Arena Sydney are offering family tickets for two adults and two juniors aged two to 12 years. Never too early to teach children what women are good for.
Players have to sign contracts agreeing to “accidental nudity”. There’s nothing accidental about it: flesh exposure is virtually guaranteed. The contract states: ” … Performances hereunder may involve accidental nudity. Player knowingly and voluntarily agrees to provide player’s service … and has no objection to providing services involving player’s accidental nudity.”
If they wear any additional items of clothing under the lingerie they will be fined $500. Apart from All Star matches, they are not paid. And they are at serious risk of injury. In fact, the league brags about all the injuries suffered by female players.
It is a mix of voyeurism and violence.
League founder Mitch Mortaza proudly states the game is “brutality, sport and entertainment combined into one”.
For entertainment, read getting an eyeful of female flesh and hot and sweaty girl-on-girl action.
Mortaza admits “the only reason this league is getting so much attention (over other female ‘sports’) is because of the outfits”.
One male sports blogger says LFL is “the closest we will get to live stadium porno” and admitted: “I just would never go to a game to watch their athletic talent.”
Martin Winquist, writing at The Sheaf, says: “Both the lingerie and the padding (consisting of modified football shoulder pads, optional elbow pads, knee pads and hockey helmets with half-visors) are minimal enough to ensure none of them obscure the usually ample cleavage of the athlete. If you’re an ass and legs person though, don’t fret; the booty shorts and required garter make sure the girls’ (breasts) don’t monopolise one’s ogling.”
The LFL doesn’t seem to think women are talented enough to play sport fully clothed.
Tampa Breeze Florida player Liz Gorman told CBC Radio earlier this year what it is like to wear uniforms designed for maximum flesh exposure:
“Oh. Well … well, honestly … I don’t like it. I’d rather wear full clothing. Because when you fall, it literally rips your skin. I’d love more clothing, but at the same time like any sport, the players don’t get to choose the uniform.”
But some fans want even more: “Nude football would be better – make it happen bastards,” wrote one.
And another: “The LFL sucks now. It used to be the girls wore ‘Booty Shorts’, meaning they, ya know, SHOWED BOOTY. It seems that they made the bottoms way more conservative. Just saw the LFL Bowl and there was virtually no ass-cheek showing.”
This exploitation of women’s bodies for profit undermines real sportswomen. Mainstreaming stripper-style representations of women – including in sport – sets back the cause of equality and fair treatment.
CONTINUING to depict women in sexualised roles – including on the sports field – dashes our hopes of growing a generation of empowered young women. It reinforces the notion that if a young woman wants to play sport she has to bare her flesh and be publicly sexual. Already many girls avoid playing sport because of body-image concerns.
The Australian Government Ausport website acknowledges this: “While sexploitation is most commonly associated with elite athletes, the matter cannot be completely divorced from community and amateur sport. There is undoubtedly a flow-on effect.”
It sends conflicting and confusing messages to the community and to other athletes. It also undermines the efforts to achieve equal credibility for all women athletes.
Fortunately, the Australian Sports Commission does not recognise lingerie football. It says the LFL does not adhere to the “core principles of sport in Australia – fairness, respect, responsibility and safety”.
However, it can’t do anything to stop it.
That’s why we have to. There’s a campaign against corporate sponsors including the Brisbane Entertainment Centre, Allphones Stadium Sydney, Telecafe, Seven Yahoo, Yahoo Sports and Triple M.
Federal Sports Minister Kate Lundy is also being lobbied to intervene. Tell these companies that trading in the bodies of underpaid semi-naked women who risk injury for male entertainment does not constitute sport.
Last week we wrote about AFL player Lance ‘Buddy’ Franklin, owner and director of sexist fashion label Nena and Pasadena. Our post resulted in significant media attention.
Within hours, Nena and Pasadena had removed all traces of Buddy Franklin from their facebook page. Franklin’s profile picture was replaced by their logo. All reference to Franklin (or the AFL) was removed from their page information along with all photos of him.
HAWTHORN star footballer Lance “Buddy” Franklin has released a special footy for kids called the Buddyball.
Using his award-winning profile, Franklin markets the “ultimate training buddy” to young lads who turn up at Auskick events.
But is he the kind of friend – or role model – boys need?
Franklin is co-director, owner and model of Nena and Pasadena, a clothing brand specialising in porn-inspired T-shirts.
It’s a company he is proud of.
In Franklin’s “fun and vibrant” brand, women are depicted naked or semi-naked. Some are headless or unclothed on all fours. His latest campaign video shows a fully naked woman.
An image on Nena and Pasadena’s Facebook page bears the slogan “F— bitches, get money”. Is that Franklin’s idea of fun?
On the same page, the street-wear brand encourages fans to send their tips for getting sex, offering prizes for the best strategies.
There are jokes about drugging and assaulting women. A few examples: “I like to call it the ‘fight and struggle’,” “the skull drag to the bushes and then duct tape the mouth move”, “I hope to God they can’t run faster than me down that alleyway”.
Another fan tweeted about a Nena and Pasadena T-shirt of two women kissing, that he would “like to smash there (sic) backdoors in”. That’s a reference to violent anal sex, if you didn’t know.
The company heartily encourages them: “Keep ‘em coming guys – this is very entertaining!”
Sharing your desires to brutalise and degrade women is “entertaining”, apparently.
This kind of everyday sexism is so normal and mainstream that objecting to it attracts a torrent of abuse.
The company says we don’t need to buy its products. No, but we are forced to see their porn-themed T-shirts in the public spaces we all inhabit. And positioning women as existing solely for male gratification harms all women (note, encouraging women to buy into their own objectification with a women’s range doesn’t make it any better).
But the entitled mini gods of the sporting world don’t like being called to account – even when they are in breach of their codes’ policies.
The AFL’s Respect and Responsibility Policy “represents the Australian Football League’s commitment to addressing violence against women and to work towards creating safe, supportive and inclusive environments for women and girls across the football industry as well as the broader community”.
“Violence against women and behaviour that harms or degrades women is never acceptable,” the code states.
Strong words. But when will Franklin be pulled into line?
Some of us have been trying to get the AFL to act on what appears to be Franklin’s normalisation of sexual representations of women for more than a year. Such depictions of women erode the AFL’s efforts to change the disrespectful attitudes of many of their players.
Buddyball reps say some of the proceeds from the ball’s sales go to help indigenous communities. That’s all good, but Franklin is effectively giving permission to men to treat women badly, including in those communities.
Franklin has now said he had asked his company to “remove all offensive imagery and comments that do not reflect my views, which they’ve done”. But he is still selling his offensive T-shirts, including from his Chapel St store.
You’d think the AFL would act more quickly, given its code and past efforts to rein in bad behaviour. Remember the AFL’s interactive DVD to help players understand that perhaps it’s not a good idea to pretend to be your best mate so you can have sex with his girlfriend?
Of course, disrespectful behaviour toward women isn’t the preserve of AFL players alone.
Sexual misconduct, harassment, indecent exposure, violence and other acts of contempt for women have been seen in all codes. The NRL has been rocked by sexual misconduct and allegations of sexual assault by high-profile players, exposed on ABC’s Four Corners in 2009.
SPORTSMEN continue to be implicated in crimes against women. Only this week Victoria Police has confirmed it will review the brief of evidence in the case against star St Kilda forward Stephen Milne, accused of rape in 2004. A 19-year-old accused Milne of raping her at Leigh Montagna’s house after a St Kilda club family day in 2004.
In the minds of too many sport stars, women are up for grabs, a conquest of the game.
In Channel 9′s player revue, before last year’s Grand Final, footballers from various teams “performed”. The show featured scantily dressed women with legs spread, a pole dancing scene and players with their hands down their pants simulating masturbation. All for the mad-keen boys watching the show before the big game.
It is time to address the culture of collusion in which sporting clubs offer little more than faint damnation for sexist behaviour.
The chief executives of sporting organisations should develop a code of conduct that would treat offences against women even more strictly than taking performance-enhancing drugs.
Franklin is a football ambassador. Boys look up to him. His personal code of conduct should be beyond disrepute.
By profiting from the degradation of women and hosting content intimating violence against them, he fails himself and the sport he represents and all the young men who see him as a hero.
AFL corporate affairs manager James Tonkin said the AFL didn’t condone the images used in Franklin’s clothing range.
“We consider it inappropriate and inconsistent with our respect and responsibility policy and we’ll be considering our options.”
Many women – including those whose sons are keen to play the game – will be waiting to see what that really means.
President of the Toowoomba Rugby League, Greg McIntyre, thought the parents, grandparents, children and sundry friends of the town’s rugby players would enjoy his little ‘joke’ in the grand final newsletter handed out to them as they walked through the gate. The same man happened to be an acting Magistrate.
Yes, a public figure, paid from the public purse to make sound judgements, shared this sexist and demeaning joke without seemingly a second thought.
Lots of people didn’t find it funny. One of them was Nina Funnell who wrote on it for the National Times yesterday.
Nothing funny about lawyer jokes like this one
What passes for a family-friendly joke these days? According to Greg McIntyre, a magistrate from Toowoomba, it’s something from that age-old genre that makes fun of the smell of a woman’s bodily parts, and on this occasion, a young ‘‘rednecks’’ inability to distinguish between them…
Apparently, McIntyre found this joke so amusing that not only did he decide to repeat it but to publish it in a program that was distributed to children and their families at the Toowoomba rugby league grand final. The president of the Toowoomba Rugby League, who brags that he is ‘‘next in line to be the chief redneck’’ of Toowoomba, was surprised to learn that not everyone shared his sense of humour. Parents and members of the football community have complained that the joke is crude and sexist, and should not have been included in a publication read by children. Read full article here.
McIntyre’s current status with the club is unclear. Is he still the club’s president? If so why? And has he retained his position as acting Magistrate? Shouldn’t the legal establishment be upholding the highest standards? If he is not disciplined that will be the real joke.
Footballers, dancing girls, pole dancers, simulated sex: all on the Footy Show
Did you happen to catch this on Channel 9’s Footy Show the night before the grand final? I’m sure lots of aspiring young footballers did.
It was the ‘Player Revue’, featuring foot ballers from various teams, ‘performing’ for the popular Nine program (which has attracted criticism in the past for its attitude towards women, you may recall the matter of Sam Newman and the mannequin dressed as a female sports journalist ).
Most of the revue conveys a message that women are playthings for male entertainment and gratification. We see women scantily dressed and spread legged, footballers with their hands down their pants simulating masturbation or running their hands over women’s bodies. The St Kilda scene probably contains the most overt sexual content in the pole dancing scene, where the player rips of the woman’s jacket, and she performs for him.
It seemed to me as though the club was deliberately sending an ‘F-you’ to its critics. It also seemed to be saying we will continue to do whatever we want to women: we have an inviolable right and entitlement to women’s bodies and nothing will stop us. You would have thought they may have been a little more sensitive about portraying themselves this way, given recent events.
Was this the Club’s idea or did Channel 9 encourage it? Is there anyone left at the Club who still possesses brains?
MTR’s ‘rubbish’ interview on MTR
So I was asked my views on the ‘Gownlows’, where the partners, dates, one night stands, whatever, of AFL players are paraded like models and assessed for their dress and appearance (for appearance read cleavage). My comments were run a few places including here.
I was contacted by MTR Radio ( I knew I should have trademarked the initials) asking me to appear on the Andrew Bolt and Steve Price show. It turned out to be possibly the most condescending and dismissive interview I’ve ever done. You can listen to it here - it starts around 35:00 – though my friends say they found more pleasure in stabbing their eyes with forks. At the end of the interview, when I’m off air, Price scoffs at my views, describing them as “rubbish”.
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