Ahem. Women and Good Men of Australia, family and friends. Below is what I posted on Channel 9 Facebook page today at a 4.39pm. They seem to have a filtering feature on their page which means they view items first before ‘unhiding’ them. I don’t have a problem with that but I will have a problem if, after reading my letter, they deem it something they will not show their FB community in ‘Post by Others’ section of their page. Want to know what I said? Then read below. If you support what I say then, please share publicly as far and wide as possible. Thanks, Carla
Dear Channel 9
I have three things so say to you:
First – CONGRATULATIONS
Second – you have got to be KIDDING me?
Third – it’s not enough, and we are watching you.
Let me explain. I am a feminist mother of three primary aged sons who are avid cricketers. I am active in my children’s local cricket club – the Marrickville Cricket Club – and a strong advocate of women in sport and Play by the Rules – making sport inclusive, safe and fair. I help coordinate the MCC MILO in2CRICKET Centre.
I arrived home at about 5pm Thursday 5 November to discover my two oldest sons aged 11 & 12, watching on commercial TV – your network – The Australian Women’s Cricket Team – Southern Stars vs. West Indies in their T20 game. I quietly listened to my cricket tragic sons comment on the athleticism and techniques of these elite cricketers. There were no comments about them being women or less than male cricketers. In my brain I was doing cartwheels of delight because my sons think this is normal – Live to Air commercial TV presenting Australian Women’s Cricket. To Cricket Australia and Channel 9 I say CONGRATULATIONS and THANK YOU. We are truly in a new era that has been a long time coming and frankly overdue.
However – whilst I was listening I heard the female commentator say after Australian wicketkeeper Alyssa Healy missed a ball due to an edge off the batsmen “didn’t her mother tell her to keep her legs together”. I stopped. I couldn’t believe I actually heard her say that. I asked my husband, and he confirmed I had heard that. My boys wanted to know what was wrong with what was said.
So this is where I say “you have got to be KIDDING me?”. That statement is wrong on so many levels. Why should I have to explain to my young sons that sexist statement – and I don’t care if it was said in jest – at 5pm in the afternoon on national broadcast. That statement would never have been said about a male cricketer. It beggars belief. And you might say, ‘yes the commentator was wrong but she was speaking live, off the cuff, etc.’. NOT acceptable. Do not, finally, put women athletes in a much-deserved place of recognition and then belittle them with ill-thought statements. Please give them the respect they deserve, that has been especially hard fought by many. Please speak about them in a way that those watching understand the commitment and discipline and sacrifice they have shown to get and stay in an Australian team.
And so here is my final and third point. We are watching you. There are generations of women – viewers, spectators, fans and participants – who have had enough of being treated less than. There are generations of good men who have daughters, granddaughters, nieces, girlfriends, wives and friends who want to see a place where people are judged on merit, not gender.
We are tired of having to explain why we deserve equal treatment – or worse having to justify it. We are your viewers, your customers, your fans and the emerging talent, and we are everywhere – in cricket, in Australian society and beyond.
We deserve to be treated with as much respect as those amazing women in the Australian team. And our sons and daughters need to see that respect is given.
So take a good long look at yourselves and your programming and promotion. This social media feed is a good example – can’t see much of the Australian Women’s Cricket here even though you are broadcasting it on TV. Plenty of Australian Men’s Cricket though. Why is that?
And don’t you dare say – we are just giving the people what they want. You are in a powerful position of shaping the viewing and spending appetites of a nation. We can only demonstrate preference through what you broadcast and there is a lot of decision-making that goes into what shows get put on and when. In fact, you have whole departments and external suppliers devoted to it.
So you and your commercial partners and advertisers are in the drivers seat in many ways. You can show good leadership and reflect what society is like or you can follow historic bad habits that will eventually fail when other people give us an alternative. Consumers, viewers, citizens are increasingly able to exercise choice and we will.
So look at the profile of the nation and reflect it in your broadcasting and you will find we are diverse. We are also smart. Don’t take us for granted and we will give you the respect you deserve.
So congratulations for taking an important step for better equity in Australian sport and broadcasting BUT there is a long way to go and a lot you can do a lot right now to make it better.
Over to you.