Give an example from your own life where you have successfully confronted male domination.
“You play AFL? But that’s a men’s game”
“You’re so delicate, you might hurt yourself”
“Play a sport like netball, it’s more ladylike”
“Women can’t play AFL”
I am deeply saddened to say, that the comments above are only a handful of what I have received in my AFL career. The idea that a woman isn’t able to achieve things to the same extent as a man still plagues our society today, and it’s completely unacceptable.
I was about 6 years old when I picked up my first football. The smooth feeling of the cherry coloured leather between my hands had me excited at the possibility of being one of the first women to play AFL professionally.
Playing AFL was like nothing I had ever experienced before. The rush of adrenaline that came with being chased, the staining of knees as you slid along the grass, the crunching sounds that accompanied a strong tackle. There were so many things to love about AFL.
However, I’ll never forget, in my first year of playing AFL a group of boys were watching my team play. They weren’t admiring our skills, or our athleticism, instead they were looking at our bodies. Comments were being thrown around about how we looked in the uniform, including how our legs looked in the shorts. It made me angry because we were not objects on show to be admired, we were here to be taken seriously. To challenge this male-dominated industry and say, “we, as women, deserve the right to play on this field just as much as anyone else”.
My legs are not to be stared at for your enjoyment, they’re here to kick goals, and that’s what they’ll do.
AFL has taught me that being feminine isn’t just about playing with dolls and make-up. Femininity isn’t tied down to a certain category. You can play AFL or Rugby and still be feminine.
It has also taught me to be strong. Last year I broke my collarbone after being tackled in a game. The tireless comments that followed included “well you’re quite small and fragile what did you expect” and “that’s what happens when you play a men’s game,” made me wish they were the ones tackled instead. At the end of the day, it was a character-building exercise. It made me stronger (emotionally, mentally and physically), and though some may look at my large scar and disapprove, it’s part of who I am, and it was endured doing something I love, and I wouldn’t change it for the world, (it also makes me look pretty badass).
I am proud of all the women and girls that continue to play AFL despite the sexism that resides in the industry. Together, we are making a statement and together we are kicking goals.