I have had a very disturbed day.
I am unsettled.
Last night I heard a replay of comments made by Eddie McGuire about Caroline Wilson on a Melbourne radio program. I heard too the laughter his comments prompted.
I felt complicit and profoundly guilty.
I had not laughed or found his comments acceptable in any way. But I was perplexed by the game’s silence.
This morning, I had the good fortune to read Kate Seear’s response in The Conversation. I saw too Corrie Perkin’s piece in the Sydney Morning Herald.
In 1981, there was only a handful of women in football. We lived in a sport ruled by men. These men ignored the social changes around them, the push for equal rights, and a growing awareness by their business world contemporaries that sexism no longer had a place in corporate Australia. They bullied and blustered against us, and we put up with it because it felt like no one was listening.
Kate wrote of Eddie McGuire’s comments:
It may be that some mainstream AFL journalists thought nothing of the exchange because the language of casual sexism is so commonplace that it might just seem no normal to them. But that’s what makes this an even bigger story: McGuire, Brayshaw and their colleagues are powerful media figures, with extraordinary reach and clout. It’s incumbent upon them to be careful when they speak, because what they say carries enormous weight.
Writing this has helped me think through events. I am writing to protest and to share the profoundest sense of discomfort and guilt I have that there was laughter and silence. As Patrick Smith says (quoted by Kate):
What’s happening is the football community is going exactly the same route that racism went through. We had to learn that there are no throwaway lines in racism, that nothing is funny. There’s no throwaway lines in domestic violence. So whatever you think is funny, is not funny.