So the NRL is in trouble, yet again, for the attitudes of the football players towards women. Endless words have been written on this and I'll not rehash the whole saga. Respect for women is certainly needed. I'm speaking as a feminist here, so let me wade in...
...I'm not entirely sure that portraying women as delicate little flowers in need of protection is helpful to us.
There are witnesses to the Christchurch incident who say the woman was a willing participant, including coworkers who report her bragging about it for days after. We run a risk when we allow regret to become rape after the fact. No means no, we shouldn't need to debate that, but now yes can become no. The issue of coercion at the time of the sex act is often raised. The problem with this is that coercion (as distinct from direct threats) implies that men are mentally and emotionally, as well as (usually) physically, stronger than women. It's dangerous territory all around. And by claiming coercion, this is perpetuated. We should teach young girls that men can't force you into doing anything you don't want, they don't have that ability, you can, must walk away. Better that than being the victim after.
Friends of mine often express amazement that despite the seemingly endless spate of gun massacres in the U.S., there's no nationwide call there to ban private gun ownership. They can't believe the deaths are just accepted. "Why not?" I say. "We just accept the road toll here. No one is giving up their cars".
The road toll is just seen as a fact of life. People rush to vaccinate their children, something I don't personally agree with, but regardless, they're putting them in greatest danger by driving them to the clinic. People teach their teenagers to drive so they'll be safe travelling to and from work, but when you consider the youth road toll versus the number of assaults and murders on public transport at night, it's the most dangerous thing parents can do.*
Today has been designated fatality free Friday in the hope of shaking the nation out of it's complacency by encouraging them to drive more safely. Can I go further - be safer still. Take the bus.
Whew! On a slightly lighter note than all that, recently my better half and I were watching TV, and an ad for shampoo appeared, in which the main actor was of Asian appearance. We discussed how it's not something you see much, even in multi cultural Australia today - the point was not that he was an Asian guy, but just that he was a guy.
But I got to thinking, how often do you see ads for anything cooking or cleaning related where it's Dad giving the kids a snack, Dad serving up dinner, Dad telling the kids how soft the fabric softener has made their jammies?
Maybe not so light after all. Anything resembling real gender equality is still a long, long way off.
* And adding to the irony is the children's cancer charity that raffles off cars. I've always wanted to ask them whether that isn't hypocritical and/or ridiculous, considering car exhausts are carcinogenic. When I get up the nerve I'll let you know how it goes.