Last year, the women of the Melbourne Cup were branded “an utter disgrace”.
Anna Usher wrote for The Daily Telegraph, one of the many news outlets responsible for publishing paparazzi-style images of intoxicated women, “Where is your sense of dignity?”
“Your classless antics don’t just reflect poorly on you,” she continued. “They impact every single Australian woman — and how we are perceived in the eyes of the world… It’s shameful. It’s embarrassing.”
There was no word on the men (they are always men) behind the camera, crouching to get a photograph up a woman’s skirt, with the sole objective of capturing their subjects at their worst. They capitalise, quite literally, on female humiliation.
Listen to all our gripes about the Melbourne Cup on Mamamia Out Loud. Post continues below.
It is the women, remember, who ought to be ashamed.
Tomorrow will be the 157th Melbourne Cup, and I have just one request:
Do not make a sport out of drunk women.
It is a call to kindness. To empathy. And to respect.
If you’re first response to seeing an inebriated woman with her dress up over her stomach is to take a photo, I’d argue that it’s time for some self-reflection.
Drunk or not, the woman holding one shoe in her hand, with a visible g-string and an awkwardly sitting fascinator, is still a human being – whose only crime was perhaps having a little too much to drink at Flemington Racecourse. Does that truly justify a public crucifixion?
With one image, it has been proven time and time again, that a reputation can be irreparably damaged.
Last year, it was the ‘wheelie bin woman’, caught with her legs either side of a bin.
She had not posed for the picture, nor did she realise she was being photographed. But she woke up the next morning to her image being plastered all over social media, worried that her family and employer would come across them.
Comments on the image read:
“Aussie girls are the roughest in the world. Horrible.”
“Australia, do something. This is unbelievably vulgar.”
“Wow the cattle grow big in Australia what do you feed them. [sic]“
“Just another excuse for the brain dead morons to dress like tarts and fill themselves up with booze and bad manners.”
I spoke to the woman (whose name I do not wish to resurface) last year, following her unprecedented virality, and found that despite her brave face, the headlines and the comments hurt.
And there was absolutely nothing she could do about it.
There was one image, where she was in the process of standing up and her underpants were visible.
A number of publications, including News.com.au, and The Daily Mail published the photograph, the latter with the caption, "woman exposes her panties as she squats to pick something up off filthy floor."
She asked that they remove the image, and was told, "there's nothing you can do about it... you're in a public place." She was told in no uncertain terms that she, "had no rights".
If we accept that logic, then we accept that any man could approach a woman on the street, photograph up her dress, and then profit directly from the photographs.
Tomorrow - do not contribute to an industry that exploits drunk women. Do not take a photo of a stranger, without their consent, and post it on Instagram or Facebook. It might be legal - but it certainly isn't ethical.
When we are at our worst, whether in public or not, we ought to at the very least afford each other a level of privacy.
We have all had moments that were less than dignified - and most of us were lucky enough not to have them immortalised.
With phones always in our hands, the temptation to take a quick photograph is stronger than ever.
But this year - let us be better than that.