For those who consistently kept asking why a photo of Erin Phillips and her wife kissing was so heavily circulated following her AFL Women’s best-and-fairest win, there’s your answer. It’s all about visibility.
The fact that Phillips’ kiss has garnered as much – if not more – attention than her historic win silently speaks volumes for how many people aren’t used to the sight of two women kissing. It proves no matter how progressive we may be or how large a majority is pushing for marriage equality, it’s not a sight championed on enough news feeds or on many TV screens.
On Tuesday night, when the photo of Phillips and her wife appeared online, it was an ordinary show of affection, being celebrated for giving visibility in a media landscape that struggles to get a hand on diversity.
But by Wednesday night a seedy underbelly started to emerge.
There were comments littered on social media. The ones that centred on how the kiss was there to be ogled by men. The ones that took the most beautifully ordinary symbol of equal love and made it overtly sexual.
Added to this was this morning’s observation from Mark Robinson in his column for Herald Sun about the kiss being considered “sensual”.
To Robinson’s credit, the piece started well, and its intentions were admirable. A major newspaper running a column from a sports writer that had the headline “Footy’s grown up. Time for politicians to do the same,” is no small feat. If the argument for gay marriage can infiltrate a world of blokey banter and beer-raising masculinity, the conversation is reaching those who oppose it. And it’s great that he is apart of that.
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“It was the kiss that travelled around Australia,” he wrote. “It encapsulated happiness, love, appreciation, understanding and, let’s be honest, it was probably a touch sensual for a number of men.”
What’s interesting about this is that although we support marriage equality – and by Robinson’s own admission he absolutely does – we still talk about it in male-centric terms.
Even when we praise equality and same-sex love, we tend to fetishise it in a way that says, ‘this is sexual, and it is for men’.
Of course Robinson – who labelled Australia’s current stance on same-sex marriage as “an embarrassment” – considers the relationship between Erin Phillips and her wife Tracy far beyond those limits, but a quick glance online proves many men do not…