The Para Hills West Soccer Club in Adelaide seems to have missed the memo.
By Coralie Alison
With a new focus on objectification of women, abuse, violence, sexism and misogyny, Para Hills West decides not only to host a ‘Men’s Night’ fundraiser – but advertise it at the club for all the junior boys to see.
Para Hills West is making sure boys learn early about what women are good for. It seems to have ignored amateur soccer’s own code of conduct.
Boys may wonder if their dads and coaches who they look up to, will take up the invite. (it’s just lads banding together to show their support for the club right?)
Not only does its display contribute to a culture that treats women as objects but it also normalises a behaviour that contributes to violence against women.
Sporting clubs have to work hard to turn the tide in sexist attitudes towards women. The culture of sexism in men’s sport is deeply entrenched. For this reason the AFL players association has partnered with The Line, an initiative under the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010 – 2022, delivered by Our Watch to combat sexism and promote respectful relationships.
Our Watch explain in their submission to the Inquiry into Domestic Violence and Gender Inequality that:
“Sexist and stereotypical ideas about masculinity and femininity may increase the probability of violence against women because they… can cast women as targets for exploitation, based on the idea that women are ‘naturally’ passive and submissive, combined with objectified and sexualised identities….”
Make the link, a Gippsland Women’s Health initiative, states on their website that:
“Violence against women is based upon a foundation of unequal power between men and women, something that has been embedded historically in our society and in our relationships. We see this imbalance acted out in many ways, even today. It is in the jokes we tell, the language we use and in the way that men and women are represented in all types of media. ”
We no longer subscribe to the old phrase ‘boys will be boys’. Our boys deserve better than that. Schools across the country are rolling out respectful relationship programs to help young people to have healthy, respectful and equitable relationships and address gender based violence. The actions of this club undermine these efforts.
It also makes women and girls feel excluded. What message does this event send to the women and girls involved in the club? We know that hyper-sexualised representations of women in advertising are directly associated with a range of consequences for girls, including higher levels of body dissatisfaction, greater self-objectification, eating disorders, and even self harm. These factors will not lead girls to participate in sport themselves but rather avoid it.
“Respect the rights, dignity and worth of every person, regardless of their gender, ability, cultural background or religion”
Women already face sexism in sport. This culture of sexism breeds in clubs that facilitate events such as this. How can we create an environment that is welcoming for all when sexually objectifying posters are plastered around the venue?
The sexualisation and objectification of women is the wallpaper of society, from billboards, to magazines, to music videos. This fundraiser means the club is endorsing this treatment of women. The club has an opportunity now to send a strong message to the community that this type of treatment of women is not okay.
Surely there are alternative avenues for sporting clubs to fundraise in ways that are respectful to all people in the community. The Para Hills West Soccer Club has a long history. Does the club now want to add sexism to that history?
Rape victim Katrina Keshishian says she ‘couldn’t believe my eyes’ when she read about a ‘simulated’ rape project
MTR comments on Melbourne artist who filmed her ‘rape’ for art installation
Australian writer and advocate for women, Melinda Tankard Reist, told news.com.au the project is “commendable” but “misguided”.
“She humanises this appalling human rights violation by turning some impersonal statistic into a real human face — it’s hard not to humanise her when you are staring into her face for three minutes,” she said.
“But I have some concerns and feel the project was misguided. Rape survivors may well ask: ‘What woman orchestrates and choreographs her own rape for an art installation? Is any art project really worth physical and emotional injury and life-long trauma?’”
She said the fact that she orchestrated and planned it also is not realistic.
“As a side question, if she had a camera that was visible could the man have considered it ‘consensual’ and acting out a fantasy? Also how would this be perceived if she ever wanted to press charges? It’s hard enough already for women who were raped not only to report but to see justice.”
She said the project has the “potential to reinforce the myth” of stranger rape.
“This kind of rape plays into rape myth that rape is when a stranger attacks you. By setting it up this way, inviting a stranger into her home, it plays into myths that women fantasise about being raped.”
“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.)
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
Inscribing Violence: murder and sexual abuse so banal it’s art
WARNING. Graphic image/content
The end of this week has left me reeling. How to even describe the latest violence against women horror exhibits? How to name the casual everyday way these mementos from the frontline of the war on women have become normalised in our culture?
First, the tattoo (slightly censored below). This atrocity is the production of local Brisbane tattoo artist Ryan Parsons, who works at Black Throne Tattoo. To design this image of a woman bound, naked, dumped in a wheelie bin for birds to feast on and then to inscribe the violence permanently into a human body – how do you actually do that? And then to laugh about it, to abuse your critics and to claim you care for women because you have a girlfriend and a daughter….like that then absolves you?
The murder and sexual assault of women is so banal it’s to be treated as body decoration now.
So proud was Parsons of his design, he thought it deserved a wider audience. He uploaded a photo of the tattoo to Instagram with the hash-tagged ‘fuck women’s rights’ and ‘bash women’.
Instantly criticised on social media, he responded:
Sheena who blogs at ‘She The Warrior’ received this reply to her complaint:
Black Throne Tattoo in no way supports Misogyny or violence of any kind.
The posts put up by Ryan were his own doing on his own social media.
Parsons removed the image, but was hardly contrite. He claimed the image was taken down after a complaint by a ‘homo’ and then uploaded this ‘community service’ announcement (which makes no sense, unless by ‘homo’ he means another lesbian, unless gay men have particular uses for vagisil that I don’t know about).
And here’s Parson’s ‘apology’ on Tuesday July 1. Note it did not appear on his business page or on Black Throne’s website or social media pages. Given that Black Throne claim not to support what he did and asked him to remove the image, surely a more visible apology is warranted?
I am not sure we should take Parson’s word for it on the origins of the tattoo being the design of a woman abused in same-sex relationships. The woman is apparently a lesbian. Parson’s condemns one of the complainants who pressured him remove it as a ‘homo’, which seems odd given his same-sex client. Then above he describes the image as a ‘hooker in a wheelie bin’. So, the alleged client requested an image of a dead hooker whose genitals are fed on by birds to be tattooed on her body. I’m not saying it’s not possible that a woman could make such a request (and even if she did, it is ethical to do whatever a paying customer requests, especially when the artists claims to be against violence against women?). I would just like to see some evidence
I emailed Parsons early yesterday afternoon and asked to be put in touch with his client, to ask her some questions about why she got the tattoo, where it appeared on her body, the comments she may have received for it, and if she had any regrets (I said I would protect her identity, which I would). No reply so far.
Evidence that Parson’s has encouraged more violent attitudes against women is not hard to find. Note the comment of ell_madness in response to another Parson image posted after the apology: #needsmoredeadhookers.
(Images courtesy: She The Warrior)
Decapitated female bodies: for your golfing pleasure
Of course ‘art’ isn’t the only beneficiary of rampant and endemic women hatred.
Have a look at this latest golf accessory from Dunlop. The ball becomes the ‘head’ which you can smash off during a great day out with your golfing buds.
The golf accessory manufactured to resemble naked, armless and decapitated female bodies.
The “Nudie Tee” (get it – nudity – hilarious yes?) is the golfing tee for the male golfer with a great sense of humour, on sale for a song just 2.99 pounds from Amazon and Ebay (shame on those companies too from profiting from violence against women).
Anti violence against women worker and advisor to the UK Government Joanne Sharpen has launched a Change.org petition. Please add your name now.
Dunlop are currently selling a golf tee in the shape of a decapitated naked woman’s body.
I work in the violence against women and girls sector and I am so frustrated about these sorts of products as they help to produce a context and a society that normalises abuse of women. I work with victims of abuse and this really can have a huge impact.
In the UK two women a week are murdered by current or former partners andone in four women experience domestic violence over their lifetimes. The mainstreaming of women as sexual objects in popular culture contributes to creating a conducive context in which violence against women and girls (VAWG) is normalised and accepted.
The Sexualisation of Young People Review found there is ‘a clear link between consumption of sexualised images, a tendency to view women as objects and the acceptance of aggressive attitudes and behaviour as the norm’. The devaluing of women in the way they are represented in society is an important factor perpetuating VAWG. ‘Turning to mainstream media, experimental studies among young adults find that males and females exposed to sexualised or objectifying content are more accepting of rape myths, violence-supportive and adversarial beliefs.
By developing this awful product featuring decapitated naked women’s bodies, Dunlop are helping to perpetuate violence against women and girls. Of the two women a week murdered in the UK this year, two were decapitated. Every time a golfer hits a ball from one of these tees, they are effectively condoning abuse and making a mockery of the women who are assaulted on a daily basis as well as those who do not survive.
‘It is likely much easier to harm a women when she is perceived as more animalistic and less human’
The UN Commission on the Status of Women Expert panel made the following relevant recommendation:
Strengthen regulatory frameworks with regard to media, advertising imagery, texts, games and other popular culture mediums which portray women or girls in a discriminatory, degrading or stereotypical way.
We cannot understand the reasoning behind this product and call on Dunlop Sport to recognise the devastating impact of such items, to remove the product from sale immediately and to donate profits from this awful item to a domestic violence charity.
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).
Another example of the abuse women receive for speaking out
By Caitlin Roper
Last week, The Australian newspaper reported that Channel Seven’s 7mate would be broadcasting the Lingerie Football. To all those who are unfamiliar with this spectacle, yes, it is exactly what it sounds like. While many accomplished women’s sporting leagues in Australia are both competitive and successful, media coverage is reserved for those women’s leagues where the uniforms consist of lingerie.
Some supporters of the Lingerie Football League, including players and men who didn’t like their access to sweaty, lingerie clad women challenged, referred to my petition on various pages on Facebook. They googled me looking for something they could use against me. I was labeled a “jealous bitch”, obviously fat and ugly, and most likely bitter that my husband was fan of Lingerie Football. I was too ugly to land a partner. I should be sent to “Guantanimo (sic) Bay” (an overreaction I thought, but still) and I probably think “walking to the kitchen for another jam donut counts as exercise” (that last one is true.)
A small sample below:
I considered responding with some facts- that I am happily married, that I work out several times a week and that I am not ugly. Then I recalled this was a classic silencing tactic I had experienced many times before– tearing women down by criticizing their physical appearance.
Women in our hyper-sexualised culture are valued for their physical attractiveness and their ability to please men sexually. Conforming to limited, stereotypical, pornified ideals of beauty and sexuality, we learn, is where our power lies. As Gail Dines writes in Pornland:
“In a porn culture, our power lies, we are told, not in our ability to shape the institutions that determine our life chances, but in having a hot body that men desire and women envy.”
In a porn culture, women can be either “f*ckable” or “invisible”. With this in mind, being regarded as an undesirable woman with nothing to offer could be potentially upsetting.
This isn’t the first time I’ve been subjected to abuse for speaking out against sexism and misogyny.
It is telling that my opponents’ first course of action was to call me fat and ugly, and that these were perceived as the most stinging insults they could unleash. What if I was fat or ugly? What if I am? If my face and body are not sufficiently pleasing to the male gaze should I be rendered voiceless?
I have more to offer than my body and I have more to offer than being pretty, as do all women and girls. Our obsession with being hot is merely a distraction.
Women are more and should be viewed as more. Unfortunately, from my experiences, the day women are recognized for their contributions and not their bodies still seems a long way off.
Lingerie Football: An open response to an open letter
An open letter “To those who oppose the LFL in Australia” was posted on our [Collective Shout] Facebook page yesterday.
Elise – an athlete who has recently joined an LFL team – asked us to read and consider her views on the LFL.
You can read Elise’s open letter here. (Opens PDF)
Thanks so much for writing to share your views on the Lingerie Football League.
Firstly, we do understand that the owner of the League has changed the name and brand to “Legends Football League” and has very slightly modified the bikini/lingerie style uniform he requires players to wear, by removing some lace and a garter and modifying shoulder pads.
The changes are so minor we don’t understand how anyone could take this seriously. The rebrand is nothing more than a cynical attempt at making the League more appealing to potential sponsors who may be put off by supporting a “Lingerie Football League.” (Readers can view the big announcement here.)
Despite a “rebrand”, the essence of the “sport” remains the same – providing titillation for men at the expense of women’s health and safety. Hence, we’re not buying into this “rebrand” and will continue referring to it as the Lingerie Football League.
Lingerie Football – whatever one chooses to call it – is not a sport. It is not recognized by the Australian Sports Commission. They do not support it.
The LFL has drained the bank accounts of former players in the US by not providing adequate compensation for serious injuries. Players understood that their injuries would be covered when they paid the insurance premiums offered by the LFL, but were instead left thousands of dollars in debt. Players who spoke out publicly about these experiences were threatened with legal action. As you’re probably aware, the US does not have the same healthcare system enjoyed by Australians, so adequate health insurance should be the highest priority for the LFL, particularly when safety equipment is the lowest priority.
Sport can indeed be an expensive pursuit and athletes are not always compensated for participation unless they are sponsored.
Now that the Lingerie Football League has a “contract” with Channel 7 and 7 Mate, will players be paid?
It doesn’t look likely. LFL owner Mitch Mortaza stated just this month to US program Inside Edition (watch below) that the league could not afford to pay players. It has been suggested by a US sports commentator that the Leagues foray into Canada and Australia is motivated in part by our health care system. Mortaza will pocket the profits from these events and Australian Medicare will foot the bill for injuries if private health insurance offered to Australian LFL players turns out to be inadequate.
The athletic skill of the women involved in the Lingerie Football League is not in question. There is no “attack” on the players of the LFL. If there is an “attack” it is directed firmly at the owner of the LFL and any corporation complicit in his exploitation of women for profit.
Some players have commented that they are not “skinny” and therefore promote positive body image. The question is asked “would you rather your daughter look like a Victoria’s Secret model or an LFL player?”
Are those really the only options? And why is physical appearance so important?
We would rather our girls not be pressured to look a certain way at all and instead be recognised for their skill and expertise in whatever activities they choose to participate in.The LFL reinforces that physical appearance and conforming to a narrow standard of beauty is what is most important, over and above athletic skill.
If Lingerie Football is about skill, then unfortunately fans didn’t get the memo. The sexist, degrading comments on social media and elsewhere about LFL player’ss bodies and what sort of sexual acts fans would like to perform are absolutely disgusting. (example) The “sport” is marketed in such a way as to invite and allow this behaviour and creates an environment that is hostile and discriminatory to women and girls. This is institutional sexual harassment. No sporting body should promote or allow this behaviour but sexual harassment is built into the business model of the LFL.
Yes, the League exists because it is “marketed well.” There is a huge market demand for pornography, prostitution, stripping and other forms of sexual exploitation. Men have not suddenly decided to embrace women’s sport. Channel 7 and 7Mate has not decided to embrace women’s sport and therefore, the LFL will not encourage other stations to embrace women’s sport. The LFL is not some new cutting edge concept, this is not the “fastest growing sport.” This is not sport at all, this is the same old sexual objectification of women, repackaged and “rebranded.”
To say if “we don’t like it don’t watch simple!” – Yes, that is a very simple statement, but it is a completely ineffective response to sexual objectification in our culture.
I don’t like it, I don’t watch it, but I have to live in a community with people who do. I have to live in a community with people whose sexist attitudes towards women are reinforced by sexploitation events. I have to live in a community with people whose ideas that women are objects of sexual recreation are affirmed by these events.
A culture in which women and girls are seen as sexual objects is one in which relationships between men and women suffer and sexual harassment and violence against women thrives. I and other women and girls are harmed by this toxic culture, even if I have never personally played football in my underwear, participated in a beauty pageant or stripped off my clothes in a nightclub.
Sexual objectification of women and girls harms all women, not just those who say they choose to participate. “Don’t like it, don’t watch it” makes as much sense as saying “don’t like pollution, don’t breathe.”
Elise, we thank you for taking the time to share your views and to provide information about the recent developments in the LFL. These minor changes to the League- if they can be called changes at all – do not change our views on the exploitative nature of the League.
Clearly we disagree on this and will continue challenging the Lingerie Football League’s introduction to Australia. However, we do wish you and your fellow athletes all the very best.
‘Roxy and the “sex sells” agenda of surf corporations a la Big Surfing are completely disconnected from what we know surfing to be about: freedom. We don’t want what you are selling’
When writing my column on the objectification of women in sport, I came across the writings of American surfer and Women’s World Longboard champion Cori Schumacher. I was impressed. Cori can both surf and write. I can only write. But she makes me want to surf! You’ll see why in this piece which she has given me permission to reprint in full.
Crossing the threshold from land to sea, the weights of gender and sexuality attached to the wings of my soul fall away. It is as if the ocean itself has the power to remove the stench of centuries from this form; a body I was born with, did not ask for but have found a way to cherish despite all the messages received from a world that would label me as second-class, nearly worthless, save for a tiny window in time if I were but to follow the intense pressures to submit to an ogling gaze that deems me worthy if I relentlessly give away my true power to embrace an ephemeral faux-power wrapped up in beauty and youth.
Let us be clear as to what this ephemeral faux-power of sexualized beauty entails:
“The answer to who has the power in these videos is blatantly clear.
We are the ones constantly depicted naked or semi-naked, in hyper-sexualized ‘biting-our-lips, batting-our-eyelashes’ demure, weak and submissive poses. It’s a position that signals vulnerability. You can’t be naked, while everyone else is clothed, and be in power. You can’t be naked and be the one in control. You can’t be naked and be the one choosing. To be naked is to be exposed; to be weak. Ultimately, it’s to be powerless.
Even when women are sold the story that their beauty is power over men, it is a deceptive and temporary truth. It’s baseless power. It is the kind of power that only exists in relation to a man’s desire. In this equation, women are defined only in relation to the men in their lives; only to the hard-ons they can incite. In these videos they’re always the cheerleaders to the male ego, standing on the sidelines, prancing around in panties, smiling with a come-hither, non-threatening look…” -Toula Foscolos
When conversations around women’s sexualization rise, the most eclipsing and ignorant of responses seeks to polarize our conversations between those who are prudishly opposed to a woman embracing her sexuality and those who are in-touch and empowered through their sexualized nakedness. Please. Women and men, our sexualities, our genders, our desires, how they are exploited and maintained, expressed and repressed, are far more complex than this simple polarization, both in the good ol’ USofA and abroad (yes, that’s right, even the French are engaged in this conversation). The conversation as it stands is due for expansion.
That is, an expansion in the conversation around the difference between the commodification of sexuality for the gain of profits and exposure for a few elite vs. the truly empowering freedom found in working to release both men and women from this circular conversation of a relentlessly disempowered binary that does nothing to celebrate our complexity as human beings.
Sex Sells (seriously, again?)
When I hear the hauntingly redundant “sex sells, so who is losing here” argument I wonder at the absolute lack of imagination and empathy this entails. Rather than argue abstracts, however, I find that it is much better to use specific examples to illustrate who loses when image and sex become the ideas sold rather than the promotion of agency, efficacy and non-image oriented achievement.
Anna Kournikova became the poster-child for sexualized female tennis beginning in the late 1990s. She inspired quite a bit of debate around image and achievement similar to the conversation surrounding Steph Gilmore’s recent trailer for the Roxy Pro. Though what was said regarding Kournikova cannot be said of Gilmore (exemplified by the use of the “Anna Kournikova” in the lingo of some poker card playing variations meaning a hand that “looks great but never wins”), we can look at the impact of Kournikova and the likes of Maria Sharapova in women’s tennis easily enough now that time has passed and draw parallels to who will lose when we allow this unimaginative and lazy rhetoric of “sex sells” to infiltrate surfing or other women’s sports, for that matter.
Marion Bartoli, who recently won the prestigious Wimbledon championship, has had to deal with the most disgusting and pathetic of the dark side of the sexualization of tennis. After winning her first grand slam trophy, BBC TV and radio sportscaster John Inverdale felt the need to comment that she was “never going to be a looker” to which Bartoli responded with the courageous comment featured in the above image. This however was light commentary compared to the “fans of tennis” who decided to let loose a tirade fit to inspire projectile vomiting. Even in the midst of accomplishing one of her greatest dreams, Bartoli has to deal with the sexism that persists for women in sport. This is a loss, not only for tennis, but for female athletes in the future who are no doubt reading all about this. Sexism persists.
“Sex sells” is regurgitated tripe that should be divested of its cowls. Sex sold product when sex in our culture wasn’t visible. Now that sex is everywhere, it is easy to gaze at it as an artifact of creativity and innovation, and indeed, gazing is all sex-used-to-sell is good for these days. A new generation of consumers (whose views translate to purchasing, which is ostensibly what companies like Roxy want) is more attracted to values-driven companies than lifestyle-fetish fodder (as exemplified by the fact that Patagonia saw growth over the last recession by 25%-30% annually while companies like Quiksilver and Billabong continue to lose millions). Sexy marketing once was an innovative way to fill a vacuum only to be found in magazines tucked under the beds of adolescent males, but with this vacuum filled to overflow in the culture-at-large, it has become as redundant and banal as commercials for pharmaceuticals on television.
“There was this one time that I saw an ad that objectified men and it didn’t offend me…”
I suppose it would be just as impossible to explain what it feels like to be a woman in the world and how surfing can be a moment of respite amidst the sexist noise to some as it would be to explain to these victims of sex-trafficking how Steph Gilmore’s trailer for the Roxy Pro 2013 might exemplify Steph embracing her “power” as a woman.
Although some, like Dustin Hoffman, have honestly delved into this question with moving and resonant results.
Why do women run to the sea? Ask yourselves this. What does it mean to cross-over from a culture-land of trauma into a sea of freedom and how impossible will it be to get others to understand how hard some will fight to retain this space where we can release the weight of gender and sexuality imposed on us by our culture-at-large?
If you want to embrace the ephemeral, it’s your life. No one should tell you what or how to use your body. But don’t pretend we are empowering the future here or that it is good for anyone else. This trend shows a complete lack of regard for the health of future generations of female surfers and does not bode well for the future of men’s surfing either. Do you see it yet? The first rumblings of it in the bare-chested way the top 34 male professional surfers are being presented to fans during 2013′s ASP contests?
Cori has a petition against Roxy at Change.org Sign here
As a teenage girl growing up in country Victoria, I was an avid reader of The Age. It inspired in me a passion for journalism. I did work experience on the local paper and went on to study journalism at RMIT. I scored a cadetship and began my life as a working journalist. A few years later I was awarded a scholarship to study journalism in the U.S. While in the States I submitted my first feature piece to Rosemary West then editor of the Age ‘Accent’ section. She ran it. I returned and began writing freelance. Now I’ve been given a gig as a columnist with Fairfax including The Age. My columns will appear every fortnight. Here’s the first, which appeared on Sunday.
Women judged to not possess hot bodies, or who fail to exude sex appeal to the ogling masses, are unworthy of sporting pursuits.This is the verdict of many voyeuristic spectators who saw French player Marion Bartoli win the Wimbledon women’s singles trophy last weekend. Her skill on the court was irrelevant. Bartoli didn’t conform to the sexy sporting babe norm. How dare she even show up with a racquet?
Worse still, this ”oily-faced bitch”, without the requisite sexy body, defeated a tall ”good-looking” blonde, Germany’s Sabine Lisicki. This was treated as a crime against humanity. Bartoli was subjected to a public shaming – a stream of eviscerating cyber disparagement for her appearance. Comments included Ellis Keddie’s: ”How is bartoli a professional athlete and fat as f—?” and London’s Stifler: ”Bartoli you fat shit. I don’t want an ugly bitch to win.”
Yet another described Bartoli as ”too ugly to be raped”. She was ridiculed as a lesbian and told to have her penis removed – ”see if she’d win then”.
In the global eroticisation of women in sport, what’s the point of a woman competing if she can’t provide eye candy to the men?
Has a male tennis player ever been subjected to such mob vilification for not conforming to a sexualised beauty? Do men endure such excessive focus on their bodies?
Shortly after Bartoli won, BBC Radio 5 commentator John Inverdale said: ”I just wonder if her dad … did say to her when she was 12, 13, 14 maybe, ‘Listen, you are never going to be, you know, a looker. You are never going to be somebody like a [Maria] Sharapova, you’re never going to be five feet 11, you’re never going to be somebody with long legs, so you have to compensate for that.
”’You are going to have to be the most dogged, determined fighter that anyone has ever seen on the tennis court if you are going to make it,’ and she kind of is.”
Bartoli bravely dismissed the comments: ”It doesn’t matter, honestly. I am not blonde, yes. That is a fact. Have I dreamt about having a model contract? No. I’m sorry,” she said. ”But have I dreamt about winning Wimbledon? Absolutely, yes … and I am so proud of it.”
The hypersexualisation of female athletes means a woman’s strengths are ignored. Reinforcing appearance over talent means sportswomen are openly abused in the public space.
Remember when swimmer Leisel Jones’ body shape was pilloried during the 2012 Olympics? Jones, the first Australian swimmer to compete at four Olympics, was judged out of shape (read ”fat”). English weightlifter Zoe Smith was labelled a ”bloke” and a ”lesbian” on Twitter. She went on to break the British record for the clean and jerk. American gymnast Gabby Douglas was criticised for her hairstyle. She won two gold medals.
In this appearance-based culture, girls get the message that to play sport, especially at high level, is to be subjected to judgment. Only certain body types need apply. This is reinforced by the Roxy Pro surfing promotion featuring a slim blonde in something akin to a lingerie shoot.
Hawaiian surfer Keala Kennelly wrote on Facebook that she thought the promo looked like an ad for a gentleman’s club or escort service. ”It says to me, ‘Who you are as an athlete is not important, what is important is that you have a hot little rig guys can perv on. As somebody that has fought so hard all my life to be respected in the surfing industry for talent not tits, its [sic] just really frustrating to see Women’s Surfing going in this direction.”
In Huck magazine, surfer Cori Schumacher wrote: ”I hoped that they would be able to focus more on their surfing ability rather than being burdened by a sexually available, blonde, fit image that took much time and money to maintain. But … the trend of focusing on the bodies and sexuality of female surfers seems to have grown worse.”
Girls need to be inspired by representations of women mobilising their gifts and abilities to reach their goals in sport and life. But, by age 14, girls are dropping out of sports at twice the rate of boys, according to the US Women’s Sports Foundation.
The Roxy and Wimbledon examples won’t inspire girls to take up sport. If you don’t look ”hot”, you may as well sit on the sidelines. And that’s the last place we need our girls to be.
Hinch employs an argument relating to male divers and their brief bathers. I pause then say I had hoped for a sensible discussion on the issue. Undeterred, Hinch presses on, at his blustery best. I respond: are male divers pulling each other’s bathers off? Do they have to sign contracts agreeing to accidental nudity? Are we watching them in action because we hope their bathers will fall down around their ankles?
Having dispatched the divers, I’m then faced with Warwick Capper and his footy shorts. I am not making this up. How can I stand up in the face of such compelling, blistering arguments? Warwick Capper wore tight shorts (and a mullet, but that’s not important right now), therefore women playing porn sport is fine. Put your sunglasses on or you will be blinded by the logic.
Trying to get Warwick Capper’s shorts out of my brain, onFriday I see the following twitter stream from journalist Latika Bourke capturing an exchange at Senate Estimates between conservative Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi and Minister for Sport Kate Lundy over this piece she wrote, critical of the LFL.
Wish Senator Bernardi had done some homework beforehand. Er yes, they are running around in their lingerie actually. That’s the whole point. And I understand why he would wish to score points against a political nemesis and to point out what he believes are hypocrisy on other issues, but would he really be “delighted” to attend a game to learn more about it?
We spoke on the phone. While Bernardi said he is on the “same page”, he compared lingerie football to male wrestling. As Jan says when she’s inspecting the dinner in the oven while her bored and half starved guests wait, in an episode from The Office, “not even close”.
What I am realising is that many men who make these arguments think that we look at male sportsmen the way they look at women. Surely we are hoping to get a closer look at the bulge in a sportsman’s shorts/bathers/wrestling attire? Surely the skin shown by a male wrestler has the equivalent effect of women dressed in lingerie with garter and suspender belts? It’s the same male sexual lense focus applied to Stonemen underwear.
We don’t see promotions for True Fantasy Diving. Or True Fantasy Wrestling. That’s how lingerie football is promoted. Women in sex industry wear, getting hot and sweaty with other women on a sports field, catering for male fantasies.
As I’ve argued already, this game sets back the cause of equality in women’s sport.
And according to sport’s blogger Cleveland360 (see interviews with ex players here) there’s many other reasons to condemn the game Mitchell Mortaza is now about to export to our country:
• Mitchell Mortaza subjects players to verbal abuse
• Players have to pay for their own health insurance but the LFL do everything to stop injured players making a claim on the insurance fund
• Mitchell Mortaza rumoured to fix LFL games, and one coach has quit because of this
• Players have to submit regular pictures of themselves and are put on ‘fat watch’ and suspended from play if they are suspected of gaining weight.
• Mortaza uses ‘fat watch’ to rig games by benching key players
Please sign our petition at Change.org. Tell the sponsors including including the Brisbane Entertainment Centre, Allphones Stadium Sydney, Telecafe, Seven Yahoo, Yahoo Sports Triple M and Fuel TV what you think.
And please, if you can, spare me from any more arguments invoking men in speedos and Warwick Cappa’s shorts. I’d be eternally grateful.
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