Monthly Archives: January 2010

patriarchy at the Australian Open

I am appalled at both channel 7 and the Australian Open tournament organisers, and what the hell, the bulk of Australian society. I am so sick and tired of the second-rate treatment sportswomen get in this country. I was not entirely surprised when channel 7 abandoned Sam Stosur and Serena Williams to go to the news, but I was very disappointed. I bet a million dollars they wouldn’t have done that if it was Lleyton Hewitt and Roger Federer playing. Stosur is Australia’s top ranked player. Lleyton used to be, but now it’s Stosur. You wouldn’t know it though, given the media hype that followed Lleyton until he lost to Federer.

Anyway if I was disappointed then I was absolutely astonished when that same evening after the men’s 4th round match which ended around 10pm, instead of showing the next match – the 4th round match between Azarenka and Zvonereva, who are both in the top 10 – they showed a REPLAY of an earlier match between Tsonga and someone else. Absolutely unbelievable. And what shits me even more is that there has been not a whisper of outrage over this. How is this ok??? How is it ok to show a replay of a men’s match instead of a live women’s one?? Who is in charge and what are they thinking? And where is the outrage? I wrote a letter the editor at the SMH. I often send letters in but they probably hate feminists, and I have never been published. I’ll post it here too.

In response to and support of letter to the editor by Cassandra Miller (27.01.10):

The message that channel 7 sends to young sportswomen by failing to air the match between Stosur and Williams and placing more emphasis on men’s matches in general is that women’s sport is not as important as men’s. Not only did we miss the Stosur-Williams match, later that evening, channel 7 decided to show a replay of an earlier men’s match instead of the live women’s 4th round match between 2 top ten players. Unfortunately, Australian society still applauds the achievements of men over those of women. As Eva Cox (SMH, 26,01,10 ‘Society to blame’ for inequality in awards) noted with regards to the shortage of women receiving Order of Australia awards “we still think the things women do are natural and ordinary and that what men do is extraordinary”. Sadly this is the case for sport as well. It is not just channel 7. The tournament organisers have scheduled the men’s matches for the night-time prime television slot. Obviously they think the public are more interested in watching men play than women. I, for one, am not. I like both, and would like to see both women’s and men’s tennis given equal value by the media and the tournament organisers.

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Survivor Samoa

I used to love Survivor. In fact, in public gatherings I often felt compelled to defend it and would sometimes go so far as to declare it ‘the best reality t.v show ever made’. I liked Survivor not least because of its sleek production. It is a beautiful show to watch. The colours and scenery are always pleasing to the eye, and the camera crew really know how to capitalise on that—panning out to capture the views of the oceans and green lush landscapes and catching insects and reptiles go about their daily existence. Survivor’s camera crew can make the falling of a coconut a beautiful event.

 I also loved Survivor because it seemed to me to be a brilliant showcase of the human psyche – the American psyche specifically. Yes, I realise it’s a reality tv show and that what we see is in fact not reality. But the emaciated and hairy contestants that emerge at the end of the 30 days demonstrate that they do at least go through some physical discomfort.

 The way that some contestants go about trying to get others on their sides, and the way that others don’t even try is, I think, fascinating.

 I have not seen Survivor for a few years. I don’t know why—life got in the way and I found better things to do, I’m sure. But for some reason I have allowed Survivor Samoa into my life (I think it’s because it’s holiday season and I am being lazy and slothful), and though it remains compelling viewing, I am disappointed with particular elements of they human psyche that I have witnessed in this series. Perhaps they were there before but I was insensitive to them.

 To put it simply, I am disappointed with the lack of sisterhood between the female contestants and the misogyny of all the contestants. Why is it that the women are the first to go? The stock response to this is because they are physically weak. Of course women are typically physically weaker than men, but I have some counter-responses to this. Firstly, some of they men on Survivor may look incredibly muscular and have a great deal of strength, but many of these men turn out to be lazy and half-hearted in the physical challenges. Think Jaison in this series. I can’t recall his name, but there was another man in a previous series who was also prone to giving up when things got rough. Put simply, some of the men on Survivor get away with being lazy just because it is assumed they are strong and powerful. Women, on the other hand, have to constantly prove their physical strength because it is always doubted—no it is more than doubted, it is often simply overlooked.

 My second counter-argument, and this is more important I think, is that not all the challenges in Survivor are physical. Actually, I get the feeling from watching this series that they are finally attempting to address the problem of gender discrimination (against women) in challenges by, for example, having the women compete against each other, rather than everyone competing together. Regardless of this, contestants still seem to carry an assumption that physical strength is the most important thing a team or an individual can possess. This is disappointing and perpetuates the idea that physical strength will always win over any other type of strength (like memory, puzzle-solving, endurance, among others), and that therefore men are better than women.