The nov­elty of be­ing a woman

De­spite be­ing around for thou­sands of years, women are still treated like a new phe­nom­e­non in some fields

The Daily Examiner - - UNWIND - les­ley.apps@dai­lyex­am­iner.com.au

IT’S pretty funny watch­ing the world be­com­ing more ac­cus­tomed to half its pop­u­la­tion as they break ‘new’ ground. In busi­ness, in sport, in entertainment, and at home. In fact, any­where that has been dom­i­nated by males is open sea­son when it comes to the pa­tro­n­is­ing com­men­tary as­so­ci­ated with such phe­nomenons.

Let’s start with sport. It ap­pears women aren’t bad at be­ing com­pet­i­tive as has been demon­strated lately be­cause they were kindly af­forded some of the cov­er­age that male sport has al­ways known. Ditto with the spon­sor­ship that gives them the plat­form to be able to prac­tise full-time and get re­ally good at it like their fel­low pro­fes­sional sports-fel­lows. Peo­ple are start­ing to sit up and take no­tice, that women’s sport can be en­ter­tain­ing to watch, too.

But baby steps first. They still need an at­trac­tive and like­able cen­tre­piece to sell it and re­ally take it to the next level or the main­stream if you are talk­ing about fe­male sport. This is be­cause men are still in the driv­ing seat when it comes to selling and con­trol­ling it.

Take Ell­yse Perry for in­stance. She’s the golden girl of cricket at the mo­ment. She has the right swing, the right arm ac­tion but also the right look. Fresh faced, cute and un­af­fected, oh and an ex­tra­or­di­nary tal­ent for slug­ging a cricket ball like her male coun­ter­parts.

And that’s im­por­tant in women’s sport, which is why the pow­ers that be (you know who I’m talk­ing about) are fran­ti­cally look­ing for other Ell­yse Per­rys in var­i­ous other fields to sell the fe­male game. But they are ob­vi­ously strug­gling to find the right mix to take their sport be­yond the ABC.

If you don’t be­lieve me, let’s bring out Ex­hibit A. Kar­rie Webb. She is still the most suc­cess­ful Aus­tralian sportsperson, let alone fe­male, ex­am­ple on the in­ter­na­tional stage. But flick back through the me­dia’s cov­er­age and you would be lucky to think she putted a few lucky breaks and was in the right place at the right time.

She was never por­trayed as our golden girl de­spite reach­ing the top of the world in what is the ‘ho­ley’ grail of male sport. Why? Be­cause she was plain, didn’t care for make-up or glossy hair and wasn’t smi­ley. She was also a ‘dyke’, as they like to refer to fe­male sports­peo­ple who are in same-sex re­la­tion­ships. If they are cute dykes that could get them over the line but only if they be­have prop­erly, oth­er­wise known as ‘how men see fit’.

So Kar­rie didn’t, but she won and won and won, ma­jors and ma­jors, break­ing records along the way. She now coaches for mil­lions of dol­lars over in Florida or some­where she’s ap­pre­ci­ated. Our loss, but hey we’ve got Ja­son Day.

In busi­ness and pol­i­tics women are get­ting no­ticed, too. An­gela Merkel has had to dom­i­nate for a decade and take her tar­nished coun­try to the top of the so­cial and eco­nomic pile to gain the re­spect she com­mands to­day.

The New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern will have her work cut out for her now surely, right? She looks noth­ing like Helen Clark. Hil­lary wasn’t so lucky be­cause she mis­took abil­ity and ex­pe­ri­ence and a high pro­file as enough but learned the hard way just who’s run­ning the show.

In the cor­po­rate world, it’s still a novel con­cept to have fe­male CEO or board mem­bers with vagi­nas.

Per­haps the most telling sign of how the sys­tem is geared against them is when they take time to en­sure the hu­man race con­tin­ues. It’s still looked down upon to pro­duce a hu­man be­ing on work time so much so that a lot of com­pa­nies have fairly shitty ma­ter­nity leave and re-en­try op­tions.

This is mainly be­cause giv­ing birth to an­other hu­man be­ing is a fe­male-only task and, like many other fe­male-only tasks, is ac­cord­ingly treated with con­tempt and with an air of pa­tro­n­is­ing sup­port by in­dus­try and so­ci­ety.

(Be­ing in charge of en­sur­ing the hu­man race con­tin­ues makes run­ning some me­dia or­gan­i­sa­tion or big banks null and void re­ally, but you tell that to them men folk). “What do you mean Ama­zon won’t be around if the hu­man race isn’t?”

Any­way you get the drift. For ev­ery nanosec­ond of ad­mi­ra­tion given to a woman achiev­ing some­thing, there’s 10,000 years of pa­tro­n­is­ing, oh look at her go dumb­found­ment, that piggy backs her EV­ERY ground­break­ing step of the way. It’s te­dious and the sooner women are run­ning their own shows, like sport­ing or­gan­i­sa­tion and Hol­ly­wood pro­duc­tion com­pa­nies, the sooner that over­rid­ing male gaze, er per­spec­tive, on EV­ERY­THING will van­ish and take the sor­did as­so­ci­ated be­hav­iours with it – an­other bonus you didn’t see com­ing, but that’s an­other col­umn for an­other day.

PHOTO: SAULHERRERA

Women have been do­ing it for them­selves for a a while but some men still haven't got the memo.

LIFE AS I KNOW IT LES­LEY APPS

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