Ellyse Perry meme sparks sexist abuse

Date

Rachael Oakes-Ash

Ellyse Perry of Australia poses for a photo after stumps on day two of the Women's Ashes Test match between Australia and England at the WACA on January 11, 2014 in Perth, Australia.  (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

Ellyse Perry of Australia poses for a photo after stumps on day two of the Women's Ashes Test match between Australia and England at the WACA on January 11, 2014 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images) Photo: Paul Kane

COMMENT

Cricket Australia calls Ellyse Perry "arguably the best female athlete in Australia" and not without merit. She has played for Australia at international level in both soccer and cricket and recently batted the Aussies to victory in the One Day International against England in Hobart with 90 not out from 95 balls.

Some would say that deserves serious respect. Not the cricket fans on the Facebook page 'Cricket memes', apparently, who responded to the news with a plethora of comments on January 29 applauding her ‘hotness’ and being ‘extremely bangable’ with not so subtle references to men’s bats and balls and what they would like her to do with them.

The image on Cricket Meme.

The image on Cricket Meme.

Among this abuse are comments referring to why she is out of the kitchen and questions of where to find her naked on the net. Welcome to the world of mad men, literally.

The inflammatory post has since been taken down but not before The Anti Bogan blog site had saved a screen shot and posted it online. Obviously these comments are from a minority and in my experience do not represent Australian men as a whole. Nevertheless, it is highly disturbing when an elite athlete who loves her sport has to, in 2014, fight the perception that only men play cricket.

This barrage of online sexual abuse is nothing new in a world of compulsive social media with the keyboard as both sword and armour. In an age of Snap Chat and selfies, there’s a growing tendency and an open invitation to judge women based purely on their physical and sexual worth.   

Sexist comments posted under the Ellyse Perry meme.

Sexist comments posted under the Ellyse Perry meme.

Which is why I love it when young healthy Aussie women achieve greatness on a world stage like Ellyse Perry, and in a sports obsessed nation like Australia, the more role models for girls across all industries the better.  

Of course, all this fight for recognition is nothing new for female sports which battle to gain prime time broadcasting, government funding, equal prize money and the seven figure sums of sport sponsorship awarded to the men.  

As Perry’s agent Andrew Fraser told Fairfax Media earlier this week: “'It frustrated the crap out of me trying to explain what a wonderful athlete she was, not just for women's sport but Australian sport. It was a battle for the first three years.

''I represent a few of the male cricketers as well [including fast bowler Mitchell Starc] and you don't expect equal commercial endorsements because you have to understand differences in terms of broadcasts and all that, but it was a real struggle.”

But then what hope do Australian sportswomen have against online harassment when the only mainstream exposure they seem to get is highly sexualised? Last year, one of our most loved and celebrated role models, Stephanie Gilmore, was asked to spend more time in front of the camera semi naked than actually surfing on the Roxy ad for the Roxy Pro Biarritz.

The ad, dubbed 'all sex no surf' by former world champion Cori Schumacher reveals the conflicted plight of female athletes who have more chance of those lucrative sponsorship dollars if they won the genetic lottery as well as the sporting one. 

One of America’s most successful alpine skiers, Lindsay Vonn, who was the first American woman to win gold in downhill skiing at a Winter Olympics and has won a combined total of nine consecutive season titles in downhill, Super G and combined ski racing, spends her professional life covered up against the cold.  And yet the only version of Vonn that magazines like Sports Illustrated seem to be interested in is when she’s bikini-clad in the snow. When are gold medals not enough?

We all know sex sells. But what makes male athletes naturally ‘bankable’ while sportswomen – however prominent – are harassed, vilified or objectified based on their looks?

Perhaps it helps to remember that it’s in this wider context that Ellyse Perry became the target of online abuse.  And until female athletes are treated by their sports fans and the media with the level of respect that professionals deserve, there’ll always be a price to pay for being ‘marketable’.

Rachael Oakes-Ash is Australia’s leading snow sports blogger and is writing about the Sochi Olympics on her website www.miss-snowitall . She is also the Fairfax travel snow blogger Snow It AllFollow her on twitter @misssnowitall 

83 comments

  • Agree with the sentiments in the article - Ellyse is a champion and should be celebrated as such, and not objectified in the way she has been.

    But, honestly, why the gratuitous cheap shot at Warnie?

    Commenter
    Roger
    Location
    Canberra
    Date and time
    January 31, 2014, 9:11AM
    • Agree wholeheartedly with the article - but it might have more credibility if you realise that it wasn't a test match in Hobart. The womens ashes is different to the Mens, its on a points system with only one test (in Perth) and then a series on ODIs and 20/20 matches.

      Commenter
      jojogirl
      Date and time
      January 31, 2014, 9:13AM
      • I saw the meme on facebook and 'liked' it because Elise Perry is a gun. I'm a bloke and I'm ashamed at the comments posted by ignorant tools. I've taken the opportunity to watch her play both in the cricket and also in the W-League soccer (both on ABC/SBS)
        The question of sponsorship/pay etc is an incredibly difficult one. However the woe is me attitude of articles like this one are incredibly frustrating. Female athletes will have the same or better pay and conditions when the crowds turn up to watch them (Women's tennis anyone?) How about rather than whining about it, actually turning up to watch it? We all know women (and especially young women) are an incredibly important consumer group that companies spend millions of dollars trying to entice to buy their products. If they turned up in their droves to watch womens sport, the sponsorship and wages would soon follow. Important question for the author - when was the last time you paid to watch a womens sporting match? If you're not part of the solution............

        Commenter
        Bow
        Location
        Cyber Space
        Date and time
        January 31, 2014, 9:13AM
        • C'mon SMH - why are you giving publicity to a pathetic Facebook page? 99% of males will happily tell you that they have admiration for Elyse Perry's sports prowess. Why have you chosen to highlight the 'trolls'? (such a pathetic term, by the way)

          Commenter
          Mat.
          Location
          sydney
          Date and time
          January 31, 2014, 9:17AM
          • agree
            the way forward for equality is to promote champions, not develop victims

            Commenter
            david
            Date and time
            January 31, 2014, 12:06PM
          • Because it helps to support their claim of endemic sexism in our society, even if the examples they provide are just 7 out of hundreds of comments posted.

            Even the last cherry picked example on that screenshot doesn't really put down Perry's achievement on the basis of her gender, but on the basis of his personal opinion that all cricket sucks. I don't see how that's any different to the hundreds of articles written putting down the achievements of male sportsmen as being nothing more than kicking a piece of animal between two sticks, etc.

            Commenter
            Markus
            Location
            Canberra
            Date and time
            January 31, 2014, 12:11PM
          • @Mat These 'men' are not trolls, they are representative of a large section of Australian males and what they think about women. I can say with some confidence that most Australian women (myself included) have experienced this sort of neanderthalic sexism personally and I doubt we have all crossed paths with the same 1% of Australian men you claim to be responsible.

            Commenter
            Jessica
            Location
            Mosman
            Date and time
            January 31, 2014, 1:30PM
          • I agree. Disgusting behaviour, but giving these oxygen thieves the attention they crave just exacerbates the problem. Most of them are spotty little virgins with no life and no prospects, so stop acknowledging them.

            By the way, Ellyse also has a great personality and sense of humour - I really enjoy when she comes into the JJJ studio.

            Commenter
            Go Blues
            Date and time
            January 31, 2014, 1:33PM
          • "..they are representative of a large section of Australian males and what they think about women.."

            No, they really aren't. What they are is the definition of confirmation bias, because people only see them, and not all the other people that don't have this attitude and are precisely not noticed for that reason.

            Commenter
            DM
            Date and time
            January 31, 2014, 1:59PM
        • Completely agree that those comments are vile and clearly sexist.

          "In an age of Snap Chat and selfies, there’s a growing tendency and an open invitation to judge women based purely on their physical and sexual worth. "
          Agree with this as well. A perfect example which I read recently was when they interviewed a fan of Lorde's when she arrived back in NZ after her Grammy win. This is what she said:

          "It was so cool. She's so pretty, she's stunning. I got some selfies with her, which was amazing."

          Seriously, why are you commenting on her looks? Why is that even important? How about the fact she is 17 years old and won a Grammy for her amazing song writing and performing?

          Commenter
          Budz
          Location
          Sydney
          Date and time
          January 31, 2014, 9:28AM

          More comments

          Comments are now closed