Anyone who thinks gender inequality no longer exists is either very naïve or intentionally contributing to it still existing.
Last night I was in Byron with my wife as she was playing a trial match for her local Aussie rules club.
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It is her first season and second time ever playing Aussie rules, and I was on the sidelines helping run the rotations.
During the warm up, one of our players ran past a small crowd to get something from the kit and a random old guy, who had clearly had a few (as you do on a Wednesday night), asked her, with great surprise, if she was playing.
“Yep” she said.
“Aaaare ya…. Good on you sweetheart,” he replied.
His genuine astonishment made the reply that much more condescending.
His was not the only comment of that sort throughout the night, as I overheard a few people whispering “geez they’re having a go aren’t they”, “that wasn’t bad” and “that was pretty good”.
The two words that went unsaid were ‘for girls’.
Even the umpire couldn’t fight decades of muscle memory as two girls, both playing their first ever game, got confused as to whose free kick it was and played on.
Being a trial, he could have played on, but I’m sure in his mind he was doing the right thing by making the play stop and come back to ‘get it right’.
But the patronising comment – “We’ll get it right eventually” – from the umpire was not just unnecessary, it would never have happened in a men’s game.
Before the game started, I had to ask a few of the assembled crowd whether they could be goal umpires for the game – you can be sure that no one had to do this for the men’s trial which started straight after the women’s trial.
Sure these things can be brushed off as trivial or small things not coming from a malicious, intentional place – but in the space of an hour, I counted at least half a dozen times when I wanted to say something or highlight a double standard.
To their credit, the girls didn’t bat an eyelid. They ripped in the whole game and displayed a frighteningly good ability to adapt to a game vast majority of them had never played.
Women will never do things the SAME as men – and nor should they.
So next time you find yourself in a situation where you could be part of the problem or part of the solution, swap out your condescension and belittlement for honesty or silence.