The AFL and its women problem

Bravo to the Melbourne mum who called attention to an incident at a junior (yes JUNIOR) footy club event in Hawthorn, where ex-Geelong star and now Triple M announcer Billy Brownless reportedly remarked “here come the strippers” when she and her 18-year-old daughter walked by.

It comes a day after a woman was punched in the crowd at the Hawthorn v Fremantle final in Perth.

Does the AFL suddenly have a ‘women problem’? No, the AFL has always had a women problem and it seems that no matter how hard the league tries to change the game’s culture, the misogyny is deeply entrenched.

The only good news is that women are now refusing to be silent about it. I imagine years ago, a remark like Brownless’ “stripper” jibe would have resulted in a moment of deep embarrassment for the women involved, and then…nothing.

But women are now calling it out for what it is. It’s not a little, harmless joke (Brownless has already said it was a ‘throwaway line’ and that ‘he didn’t mean anything by it’). It’s a deeply offensive remark, showing the real, underlying attitudes to women that lie in the depths of the AFL (and all footy) culture.

So I implore all women who are involved with footy (whether it’s the AFL or their local club) to call out such behaviours and attitudes, wherever they see it. Maybe we need an Everyday Sexism Twitter handle just for AFL matches where women can post the sexist remarks they hear?

Let’s hope the more we call it out, the more it will be seen as the offensive behaviour it is.

Let’s also hope that girls and women’s AFL continues to grow like mad – the game has never needed it more than now.

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The AFL and its women problem

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