The novelty of being a woman
Despite being around for thousands of years, women are still treated like a new phenomenon in some fields
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.
Women have been doing it for themselves for a a while but some men still haven't got the memo.