It’s all in the attitude

It’s lucky that the NRL isn’t subjected to the same scrutiny as the parliament, because last Thursday’s episode dedicated to the Women in League round would have been shown to have as thin a guise as Beau Ryan’s Tommy Raudonikis. In fact, Beau Ryan’s Tommy only contributed to the disastrous five minutes that could have cost someone their job.

It is not all bad that the slip ups largely escaped censure, because for the most part it was a nice and fitting celebration for the women involved in Rugby League. Overall, one got the impression that the hosts, the writers, the anchors and the crowd were genuinely celebrating what they told us they were celebrating. I will give them credit and say that it really looked like they were trying to celebrate women’s role within the game.

May I say too that Leila McKinnon made a really good guest host and a nice change of pace for a show that can be often be a buffoonery overload. It is wonderful to see someone who really did her research and showed a better understanding of some aspects of the game than the other hosts have in the twenty years the show has been running. Statistics on the footy show that don’t come out of  David Middleton’s mouth? Who’d have thought?

Unfortunately, I couldn’t help but notice the quizzical look on Leila’s face (I’m going out on a limb and say that Leila looks and sounds to me like a good journalist, a well informed person and someone who will not tolerate casual sexism) when Fatty said that “unfortunately” Germaine Greer is still alive. For all her bad stigma in Rugby League circles for whatever reasons,  I doubt that Fatty fully understands Germaine’s contribution to society. And for the eternal deity’s sake, Fatty, can you save the jokes about Germaine for episodes that aren’t ENTIRELY AND EXCLUSIVELY DEDICATED TO WOMEN IN THE GAME OF FOOTBALL? I REALISE IT’S MOSTLY DUDES WHO PLAY, BUT WE’RE TRYING TO SHOOT AN EPISODE THAT CELEBRATES THE ROLE OF PEOPLE WITHOUT A PENIS THIS WEEK. IT WOULD HELP IF YOU DIDN’T MAKE JOKES CASUALLY RIDICULING WOMEN THIS WEEK, AND PROBABLY FOR THE NEXT TWO WEEKS JUST TO BE SAFE.

Thankfully, Beau Ryan as Tommy Raudonikus saved the situation, humourously remarking that Fatty’s job is “Gooooooooooonnnnne.” It could well have been had there been a political correctness brigade watching the show.

Unfortunately for Beau, he too made a couple of sexist gaffs. Firstly, addressing Leila as “Love,” even as Tommy Raudonikis, ain’t on. Secondly, using the word “women” in a derogatory sense, ie. “The Queensland team is full of women,” is not ideal in an episode about how great women are for Rugby League. By this stage the producer would have had no teeth, fingernails or hair.

I suppose Beau could have meant that women are in fact superior to men, and that Queensland’s team has been full of women for the last six years, thus their dominance. But this was patently not what Beau meant, and it was, in fact, meant as an insult.

While none of these things are not super sexist, and didn’t prompt a media shitstorm or a Mel Gibson revenge movie, I do question the value of these Women in League rounds if the attitude of men within the game is still that backward.

Only this year two players were banned, but not for life, for assaulting their girlfriends. The league celebrates Greg Bird despite his past indiscretions against women. I know they don’t speak for the game, but even Fatty saying it was unfortunate Germaine hadn’t carked it or Beau saying the Queensland team are women shows that the attitude of the game hasn’t progressed as far as the Women in League celebrations would have us think.

But allow me to be positive. They really really tried. They tried to celebrate the women’s role in the game that has a 41% female fanbase, but a little more research and a shift in attitude would make this seem a lot more genuine.

And some basic briefing from someone with a bit of sense might have helped. Tip for the hosts: Don’t associate things female with things necessarily bad or weak. Don’t call females “Love” and “Toots.” And don’t pay out Germaine Greer. Especially on the only week of the year you dedicate the show to women.

You got away with it this time Footy Show, but it’s really time to put your money where your mouth is with this whole Women in League thing.

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Andrew on June 26, 2012 at 10:41 pm

    Good article and I agree with many of your sentiments. Though ironically, I think you’ve underestimated Leila McKinnon’s knowledge of the game. I know she’s female, but she’s also been a regular contributor of some quality articles to nrl.com for a while now.

    Reply

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