As we listen to Barry Hall‘s vile comments about former St Kilda player Leigh Montagna’s wife giving birth, suggesting the obstetrician should touch her sexually to stimulate the birth, there is one glaring issue that everyone seems to be forgetting.
While it’s true that the comments Hall made are horrific, and demonstrate a complete lack of respect for women, the issue here is that the backlash didn’t come until the segment was complete.
As Hall spoke, every man that was on-air at the radio show laughed along.
Not one of them, not even Leigh himself, thought it appropriate to call the behaviour out. Not one of those men said “Mate, that’s not on” or “You missed the mark there”.
In fact, it’s critical to note, that what Hall said was part of a conversation. It was not entirely out of left field.
When men (and in some cases, women) laugh, too afraid to challenge each other on blatant sexism – we are complicit.
While sacking Barry Hall is certainly the best course of action by Triple M, as it sends a clear message about the inappropriateness of his vile statement, it will not stop men from having these conversations when women aren’t listening.
In order for a cultural change to occur, men need to stand beside women as our friends, and have the courage to be the guy who tells their mate what they’re saying isn’t funny or okay.
In an interview with Fox Sports last week, former Sydney Swans player Brandon Jack said men need to step up and call out sexist comments when they’re made.
“As men, we don’t need to bond over demeaning women. We can literally talk about anything else,” he said.
“I think all men can play a role in making it better,” he continued.
We need men, like Brandon Jack, to be our allies, and laughing along perpetuates these problems in a way that sacking someone can’t even begin to fix.