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March 05th 2017 print

Patrick McCauley

Some Harsh Words about Women’s Footy

As Samuel Johnson said of female parsons, 'A woman preaching is like a dog walking on his hind legs. It is not done well, but you are surprised to find it done at all.' The good Doctor might just as easily have been talking about the AFL's much bally-hooed women's competition

femme footy III know I’m getting on, and I’m prepared to concede that I probably suffer from male privilege as well, but there is something about women’s football which gets right up my back pocket. Perhaps its the silence of today’s cowed males at the invasion of what, until recently, had been their sacred business of football — AFL, as it is known in heathen precincts where rugby and soccer prevail.  Now the gates of gender exclusion that once protected this time-honoured sanctuary of maleness have been torn down in the cause of gender equality. The last undisputed province of the heterosexual male has fallen.

The leagues and competitions were built around towns and suburbs that looked upon their local teams as something akin to armies, the Saturday games revered as holy crusades against the detested foes representing the next town or suburb. Each man would be pushed to the limit, twice a week while training together in the rain, like soldiers mastering the essence of pain and sacrifice. After the game, bruised and battered in the leaky tin-roofed change rooms of a thousand ovals, they would bind their strains and anoint wounds with iodine and liniment in rituals of repair that would be instantly familiar to any hero fresh from combat before the walls of Troy.

The football club would be open for drinks and male conversation after training and all afternoon on Saturday. The games always started at ten past two, and there were teams that every man feared to play. The single-gendered nature of the game was never pondered, other than it being the happy duty of wives and mothers and sisters to demonstrate their fealty with sandwiches and washing and mild adulation. They were Penelopes waiting on the boundary line for their Ulysses to return from war and re-join in collar and tie or fluoro gear the humdrum plod of day-to-day civilian life.

The footy club was a place where men talked to men about stuff they could talk about with nobody else. If the local copper was a member, things could be worked out. If you needed guidance or insight, there would be a lawyer, accountant, plumber, landscaper or whatever to share the needed wisdom with those pledged to the same team colours. Footy clubs kept their secrets from the women, just as the CWA, the tennis and softball clubs kept  secrets the men never knew. I remember arriving as a teacher, the newly arrived outsider, in various isolated communities and being taken in, as if to a family, when I joined the football club. They trusted you more after seeing how you played the game.

There is something to be said for male- and female-only spaces, where gender and equality are not the filters which need to be forever defined and negotiated. Places like footy clubs as we have always known them, where men supported men in ways and in regard to matters no woman could ever genuinely grasp. There was a separate equality there, too, as I imagine much the same intimacy applies in the conclaves of women.

I have tried twice to watch women’s football on TV and found myself each time reminded of the under-fourteen B’s. Very low scores, with some teams only able to record a single goal in the course of an entire match. They go in hard though, as if they have something to prove. Yes, they go in hard, with many players seemingly determined to look like blokes as well. So many tattoos and so much short-cropped hair! It strikes me that there is a definite element of ‘out-bloking the blokes’ in women’s football and, implicit in that, a feminist third finger in the air to assert that women have been too long oppressed and now it is the sisters’ right to bask in the spotlight and adulation. Trouble is, that expected reverence is undeserved. “A woman’s preaching is like a dog walking on his hind legs. It is not done well; but you are surprised to find it done at all,” was Samuel Johnson’s appraisal of  female parsons. He might just as easily have been talking about women and football.

Yet despite the shortfall in the quality of play, the feminist agenda asserts itself. Before even one AFL women’s football game had been played, there was much whining about gendered inequality and how male players, who can fill the MCG to overflowing, receive much higher pay than women’s teams that can’t and never will. But should we be surprised? Not really. Women have planted their latest flag and are brandishing the colonisation of Aussie Rules as yet another victory over men. Strip away the feminist rhetoric and the fact remains that women’s football is an ugly, fouth-rate thing.

We males, the defeated, salute you, much as we shake sportsmanlike hands with those who have bested us in the course of four hard-fought quarters. But speaking for myself I make this promise out of respect for the game’s  honorable and uncomplicated past: I will never again watch another women’s football game.

Comments [14]

  1. Mark Smith says:

    A couple of news reports on the women’s recent Collingwood and Carlton game boasted about having to turn people away when the ground reached capacity. What they failed to mention, and what somebody told me later, and please correct me if I’m wrong, entrance was free!

  2. Peter says:

    Ignore it and it might go away. This horror will not infiltrate the country football leagues.

  3. Elle says:

    It may be more appealing if they wear only bras and booty shorts, like the gals in the Legends Football League in the US. A lingerie football league might draw a decent crowd — and not just the current gals’ lesbian partners.

  4. Bill Martin says:

    Given the crushing dominance of political correctness coupled with feminista fascism, this is an extremely perilous subject, replete with landmines of misogyny, sexism, male aggression and and other yet unnamed hazards. Full marks to Patrick McCauley for bravely tackling it.

    Whatever else women’s football is, it is most definitely not feminine. For an old codger like me, women represent grace, beauty and caring gentleness, which makes them so very attractive and desirable, all of which are the direct opposite of what is displayed by football playing women. This attitude in no way means the devaluation of women as compared to men. The simple fact is that mother nature (most definitely a feminine entity!) in her wisdom so arranged humanity that male and female members of the species have a range of complementary roles to play in order to serve the best interest of them all. Sadly and increasingly disastrously this fundamental notion is not only blatantly ignored but it is being actively deconstructed. Women’s football is just the latest manifestation of the process. It is just as disrespectful of nature as the gay and lesbian mardi gras.

  5. SJones says:

    Patrick says it perfectly and Bill’s comments are beautiful. All this trying to be equal with blokes stuff in their traditional arenas is tiresome. It’s good to hear what males really think about it. As a female who thinks I’m equal but different, I just don’t get women pushing in everywhere. I think the idea of women’s football is going to get ugly as their demands increase.

  6. Dave Carter says:

    I too watched the first few minutes of the Blues and the Magpies, but turned it off- every ball-up was a feeble open-handed slap, the ball fell into a loose scrum with no possession, and it took two minutes to leave the centre square. All could have been so much different if the umpires had enforced the same rule that every eight-year-old kid knows, and makes the pure game dynamic, hand-eye skills-based and aerial ping-pong in the best way- hit it with your fist, or it’s throwing the ball.
    Mind you, the same flappy-slappy limpwristed rugby “taps” have invaded the AFL, and I’m buggered if I know why the hell no player is pulled up on it. To me, it stinks more than any Goodes-style staging.

  7. old44 says:

    Lesser standard in ability than the Matilda’s.

    In a friendly match against the Newcastle Jets under-16 boys team on Wednesday, the Matildas were humbled 7-0. That’s right, the team ranked fifth in FIFA’s women’s rankings were roughed up by a bunch of lads barely old enough to shave.

    In one of the first games only six players got 10 possessions or more.

  8. Keith Kennelly says:

    Woman’s footy is like mans impotence. A valiant attempt with not very much.

  9. glenda ellis says:

    Hurrah for Patrick Mccauley! I love to watch AFL games – even those of my under 14 grandson. I love the speed, the athleticism, the sheer might of bodies competing for the ball above or at ground level. And themighty punts dor a major score. So I gave the women’s game a trial. Disappointment, ladies. Play the game all you might your bodies are simply not yet up to the grade. The scores are too low, the long, straight kicks to a racing rover just don’t happen. I think the commentators are guilty of fake news.

  10. adrian1976 says:

    To paraphrase Pat Cash, women’s football is four quarters of rubbish that lasts only an hour.