Giving women a voice

There was an excellent article in The Age recently by Olympic Rower Kimberley Crow, about women in sport, and societal attitudes towards women in general. It suggests that society needs to give women a voice, and listen to what they have to say. Which is clearly true – everyone should have a voice, and sufficient respect to have their voices heard (with the obvious exception of John Wincing Howard – if we never hear from him again, it would be much too soon). But it begs the question – how is that going to happen?

I contend that the media does not present female sports stars with the same enthusiasm or frequency as male sports stars because women’s sport does not sell papers, or advertising time. With, as Crow notes, the exception of pretty tennis stars in very short skirts. The deeper question, then, is why doesn’t it sell papers, and how can we change that?

At the risk of leaping to delusions, I suspect that the problem lies deep within segregation. Men on one sporting field, women on another. Where women play a “man’s sport”, they play it separately. What reason is there for separating, for example, women from men in cricket? Where strength is less of an issue than style and skill? Ok, the average woman may not be able to bowl a ball with the same strength or speed as the average man, and elite female athletes, performing at the limit of their endurance, may hit some limits sooner than elite males. But in games of skill and style, where strength is not the determining factor, why not mix the teams?

And even if the elite teams wind up de facto segregated, where strength truly is a factor, there is still no reason why suburban teams must be segregated. Oooh, but women might get hurt! Do women break more easily than men? Not as far as I know. And sport is not usually about deliberately injuring people. (Notwithstanding the old canard “It’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt. Then it’s a sport.”)

Sure, people get hurt in the rough and tumble, the hurley burley of a fast paced and physical game. But do we not owe it to our male athletes to protect them from injury where possible? If women choose to play a very physical game, knowing the risks, why say no?

I am not a fragile flower needing protection. And any women who sets out to play rugby is unlikely to do so in a short skirt and high heels. Let’s desegregate. Get men and women interacting as contemporaries, equals, and partners. It is the very culture of segregation that leads to incidents such as the one that recently got Matthew Johns in such hot water. You can’t think “but what if this was a friend of mine?” when you are not used to thinking of women as friends. We are not two distinct species. There are few, if any, attributes other than bodily organs which are exclusive to one gender or the other.

Mix it up! No more segregation. It’s time for society to grow up.

Advertisements

4 thoughts on “Giving women a voice

  1. A question:

    “I contend that the media does not present female sports stars with the same enthusiasm or frequency as male sports stars because women’s sport does not sell papers, or advertising time. With, as Crow notes, the exception of pretty tennis stars in very short skirts. The deeper question, then, is why doesn’t it sell papers, and how can we change that?”

    Who buys papers? Largely a male demographic?

    Being raised in a family of 6 with equal numbers of both, the girls were definately not fragile flowers and could hold their own with the boys physically till our late teens. Part of the problem was segregation: hockey and netball for the girls, footy and cricket for the boys. I have no idea why school was like that. It led to the bizarre situation where the most athletic of my sisters could run like a gazelle with a hockey stick in hand and be a complete ‘nancy boy’ otherwise.
    Familiarity, confidence, coaching, practice and/or lack of it.

    That’s where its going to have to begin though … school … when/if the male role model thing is fixed.

    From another wrong roomer.

    1. lindamciver

      No, I don’t think it’s mostly men who buy papers. That would be an easy answer, but I don’t think it’s right. Certainly there is plenty of advertising in the papers that’s targeted at women.

  2. “.. everyone should have a voice, and sufficient respect to have their voices heard (with the obvious exception of John Wincing Howard – if we never hear from him again, it would be much too soon)”

    Now, now. Everyone should have a voice, it’s just that some voices should be treated with the same disdain as the Aus. Gov. has for asylum seekers.

  3. Andy

    “.. everyone should have a voice, and sufficient respect to have their voices heard (with the obvious exception of John Wincing Howard – if we never hear from him again, it would be much too soon)”

    No – everyone should have a voice (including those we don’t agree with), and everyone then has a right to listen or not. That is the choice offered by democracy (and so often removed by the media).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s