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Opinion

Casual Sexism – On and Off the Field

Sexism in Football Sports | White Ribbon Australia

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.”

Author Zoe Alexiades is a White Ribbon Advocate and White Ribbon Youth Advisory Group (YAG) Member

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What is casual or everyday sexism? Learn more from this quick video below

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