lifestyle

Finally women's sport gets commercial air time. But they'll be playing in their undies.

This is the lingerie football league.

 

This is an open letter to the Board Members of Channel Seven about lingerie football..

Dear Mr Stokes and Board Members,

It was recently announced that 7 Mate will broadcast the first season of Australian lingerie football, beginning in December. With unabashed disingenuity, though, it will be called the ‘Australian Legends Football League’.

I would like your help. Because I have no idea how to explain to my daughter why women’s sport is only deserving of commercial air time if the women are playing in their underwear, and meet social expectations of “hotness”.

Let me pre-empt the arguments in favour of this frankly Neolithic programming decision:

Lighten up, it’s just a bit of fun

Sure. I like fun. I like a dirty joke, I like sport and beer too. I don’t even have a problem with porn, provided it’s non-violent and age-restricted.

But the ‘Australian Legends’ Football League conflates sport and porn in a way that is offensive to women by intimating that their athletic prowess is only valuable if their boobs are on display too. And it’s offensive to men because it reduces them to ogling, beer-swilling cave men. Surely we can set a slightly higher standard for ourselves.

Let me give you 3 reasons why people are telling me to cool down about this and why they’re bogus.

1. 7 Mate is aimed at men – you don’t have to watch

Yes, the station is aimed at blokes. And this programming choice is no doubt a marketer’s dream, combining contact sport and near-naked women. I can see the Lynx ads now. But as a broadcaster, do you take no responsibility for encouraging in men a healthy respect for women in all professions? It’s not the fact that you don’t televise women’s sports, it’s the fact that the one female sport you do televise reinforces the message that women are only good for looking at and fantasising about.

The treatment of women in sporting culture is front page news at the moment. I’ll leave you to ponder how lingerie football contributes to the creation of a society that respects female athletes and sport fans.

2. Women’s sport is not as exciting

We’ve all heard this argument a million times. Anyone who watched Cathy Freeman at the Sydney Olympics, the Williams sisters on the tennis court or our world-class and ridiculously ballsy aerial skiers would disagree. But you have to go with your market research, right? Fine. Don’t show women’s sport – leave it up to SBS. But don’t cloak a T&A fest in the guise of “sport”.

After all, we don’t ask male lawn bowls professionals to nude up, do we?

3. Companies must act in the best interests of their shareholders.

Women shouldn’t have to get their gear off to play football.

Indeed. I note that your 2013 Annual Report includes a Diversity Policy which states that Seven West Media “recognises the benefits of a workplace culture that is inclusive and respectful of diversity”. Can you, in all honesty, describe lingerie football as respectful?

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Would you tell your daughters, granddaughters and wives that it’s respectful? If a policy is a reflection of an organisation’s values, I struggle to understand how its application can be constrained to the four walls of the company and not to the products it creates or the relationships it fosters with its stakeholders.

In any event, how do the women working in your subsidiary companies feel about this programming choice – does it empower them in their careers and make them feel like they have unfettered potential at Seven?

Studies repeatedly show that companies with diverse boards and management teams perform better financially. But how can you expect to achieve genuine diversity if the programming decisions contribute to a sweaty, adolescent locker room culture founded on puerile titillation?

I hope that the fathers, brothers, sons and friends of women who watch 7 Mate think that lingerie football is as insulting to their intelligence as I do.

And I hope that as a Board, you will consider not only your commitments under your Diversity Policy but also your wider responsibility as directors of an organisation that shapes public opinion and debate.

If more organisations did this, I might be able to tell my daughter that if she wants to earn a living playing football when she grows up, she can. And she doesn’t have to get her gear off to do it.

Alison Wines is a communication specialist and freelance writer. She is the mother of a cheeky three year old girl and expecting a new addition to the family early next year. You can find her on twitter here: @alison_wines.

And in other sports news this week…

– The Australian softball team Aussie Spirit have taken a team tour to Sagawa, Japan. They’re hoping to turn their intense training schedule into success at the 2014 World Championships in Amsterdam – hopefully to bring home a gold medal. Nine players and three coaches have all been undertaking the high-intensity training schedule.

– Speaking of softball – IOC president Thomas Bach announced last week that baseball and softball could be reinstated for Tokyo 2020.

– 27-year-old Sydney FC W-League player, Leena Khamis, is officially back into soccer after a year on the sidelines, recovering from knee surgery. In August last year, the Australian player’s career was not looking good at all after rupturing a ligament in her left knee; however, she says that she’s now feeling fit and strong and even scored a goal in her first game back.

– The Matildas won both games in their friendly series against China this week. They achieved a 2-1 win at Pirtek Stadium on Wednesday night, and 2-0 on Sunday.

What do you think about the lingerie football league coming to commercial television?

Who loves cricket?

And in the spirit of Sport on Saturdays – we’ve got an AWESOME prize to give away to 6 families, based in Adelaide, who love their cricket.

6 entries will score a family pass for their child, and another family pass for a friend of their child, to attend the Commonwealth Bank Test Match Day 1, Australia Vs. England in Adelaide on Thursday 5 December 2013.

This child and a friend (who must be aged between 5 and 10) will be able to stand in front of the Australian or English Cricket team, during the national Anthem (before the start of play).

This is an INCREDIBLE opportunity for any child who’s really passionate about cricket.

And all you have to do tell us, in 25 words or less – why does your family love the cricket? Give your answer in the form below.

Click here to see the terms & conditions for the competition. Thanks to MILO and Cricket Australia

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