“Maybe Michelle had a bee in her bonnet and decided to air it.”
“‘It’s fair to say it still will be a male-dominated sport, that’s the way it’s been for a long time and the sooner people get their heads around that the better.”
Glen Boss is a bit of a boss in racing. He’s the jockey who won the Melbourne Cup three times in a row on Makaybe Diva and today he’s made front-page news for making the above comments to News Limited about Australia’s beloved jockey of the moment.
He’s pretty unhappy with how his comments were treated and initially said as much on Twitter, before deleting the comments. (News Limited have published a full transcript of the interview here).
On the eve of Cup Day he tweeted this:
To be at the races and witnesses M Payne win the Cup was a Thrill & a privilege. Girl Power. ⭐️⭐️⭐️
— GLEN BOSS (@boss_glen) November 3, 2015
In his interviews today he is also quoted as saying Michelle is “a really strong character, that’s why we all love her.” So let’s be clear. To characterise Boss as a Michelle-Payne-hater is false.
But, equally, it would be disingenuous to blithely dismiss his comments. Because they reveal a familiar sentiment that, whether it’s intentional or not, proves Michelle’s point perfectly.
Dismissing Michelle’s post-race comments as merely a ‘bee in her bonnet’, instead of a legitimate observation about her experience, reinforces exactly why she wanted to tell the doubters to get stuffed. Winning the Melbourne Cup was her chance to say what she had possibly wanted to say for years.
In a Daily Telegraph column today, Payne wrote:
“I don’t like to dwell on the sexism aspect of being a female jockey. But it happens. A couple of years ago one owner said it should be like the 1920s, women should not even be allowed on the racecourse… I’ve been in this industry riding for 15 years and some of the boys are like ‘you are a girl, get out of the way’ kind of thing.”
Clearly, Michelle hasn’t let any of this get to her. She’s continued racing, even when faced with some pretty catastrophic falls and injuries, let alone sexism. She hasn’t let any bees — big or small — interfere with her dreams.
On Tuesday, Michelle faced a choice many women, particularly in male-dominated fields, grapple with. To stay silent or speak out. It’s a tightrope many women subconsciously navigate daily.