On Tuesday May 7, I was impressed to see an eloquent article by Essendon footballer Zach Merrett; where he discussed the issue of gender inequality, on and off the field. The key statement that stuck with me from Merrett’s article was the following: “It was then I realised ‘playing like a girl’ was a shocking insult, but not to the boy who was copping the abuse. No, it was an insult to these two girls, who had to deal with the negative connotations around the slogan every time they played.”
His call for action and change left me feeling uplifted and positive about our game and had me thinking, AFL is really making a stand against sexism and I’m proud to be an avid AFL supporter.
Spoiler alert, it didn’t last long.
Just three days later, on May 10, in the Sydney vs. Essendon match, Sydney footballer, Dane Rampe told an umpire he “talks like a little girl” after he didn’t hear a call to play on. Yet, I’m sure you’ve heard the controversy this week regarding Rampe’s climbing the goal post, as Mark Robinson said on AFL 360, on the evening of May 16, “It’s the biggest issue in AFL this year!” Excuse me Robbo, but is a player climbing a goal post a bigger and more serious issue than casual sexism in our game?
Casual sexism needs to be called out. We need to act now and stop turning a blind eye. Comments such as these are unacceptable and I will not remain quiet. No, I will cause a fuss, I will make a stand, because all women, everywhere, deserve to be treated with the same respect and courtesy as men. Of course, this issue of casual sexism is not limited to AFL, or any sport. It happens in the workplace, we see it in popular culture, we see it in families and groups of friends.
I was pleased to see that the AFL took Rampe’s comment seriously and fined him $10,000. In saying this, I’d much prefer to see a change in culture and behaviour, rather than simply being reactionary and providing consequences for actions.
I encourage men to follow the good examples we have out there, the Zach Merretts of the world, let’s say. But more than that, I expect men to call out poor behaviour when they see it. I am sick and tired of men telling me they are a ‘good bloke’ and that they respect women. If you’re going to talk the talk, I expect you to walk the walk. Be an active bystander, ensure you are not laughing at sexist remarks or changing the subject because you feel uncomfortable standing up for what you know is right. We can’t keep shying away from conversations because they are taboo. If we don’t have these vital conversations about equality, nothing will change.
I stand with Zach. “This is about more than footy.”
NSW is the only state not to have modernised its laws regarding termination of pregnancy. White Ribbon Australia believes that all women should have complete control over their reproductive rights and sexual health.
Women’s physical, mental and social wellbeing can be impacted by the criminalisation of abortion. Criminalising abortion impacts a woman’s ability to freely make decisions about
her healthcare and future, and every single one of us should have the freedom to decide what is right for our bodies and lives.
Read White Ribbon Australia’s full statement about women’s reproductive rights here.
We are disappointed and appalled by comments made by male political candidates over the past days about women. There is absolutely no room in our society to spread abusive, violent, hateful and disrespectful remarks about women in any circumstance.
One woman a week is killed by a current or former partner; 85 per cent of Australian women have been sexually assaulted; 1 in 6 women have experienced stalking since the age of 15.
The abuse and disrespect of women is no laughing matter.
Comments made by candidates prior to them running for political office condone and promote the normalisation of men’s misogynistic attitudes and behaviours toward women. We know that these contribute to an environment where violence and disrespect in our communities is at crisis point.
Our community leaders, including all those who stand for political office, should be advocates for positive change with zero tolerance towards violence and disrespect against women. They should set the example of how to end violence against women by standing up, speaking out and acting when they see and hear disrespect, verbal, emotional, mental, financial and physical abuse being perpetuated in any setting.
Behaviour like this has no place in Australian leadership, or anywhere else in our society.
We call on our community to not sit in silence, and to safely intervene to end all forms of violence against women.
 Bryant, W. & Bricknall, S. (2017). Homicide in Australia 2012-2014: National Homicide Monitoring Program report. Canberra: Australian Institute of Criminology. Retrieved from: https://bit.ly/2ozctxh.
 AHRC (2018). Everyone’s business: 4th national survey on sexual harassment in Australian workplaces. Retrieved from: https://whiteribbon.org/2Ea7Q6C
White Ribbon Australia acknowledges the traditional owners of country throughout Australia and recognise their continuing connection to land, waters and culture. We acknowledge the traditional custodians of the country on which we work, the Cammeraygal people of the Eora nation. We pay our respects to their Elders past, present and emerging.
White Ribbon Australia recognises that the movement to prevent men’s violence against women is built on the tireless efforts of women and women-led organisations throughout history, internationally and in Australia.