Archive for the News Category

Gender disparity in sport…

Posted in Gender, Life, News, Sport with tags , , , , , , on November 30, 2014 by L.J

With all the advancements that women have made in the world, there is still a ways to go when it comes to women in sport and how women in sport are viewed. Professional sport is recognised in a variety of ways in the contemporary world whether it be by monetary value, advertising power or media presence. In all three of these elements women rarely if ever out rank their male counterparts, yet no clear reason is evident for this. The only place where women out rank men is on their individual sporting success.

Abby Wambach

Abby Wambach – 6 time winner of the U.S Soccer Athlete of the year award.

The sporting world is littered with examples of where select women’s teams (English Cricket team, Aussie and Dutch hockey teams) or individuals (Golfer Annika Sorenstam, Tennis champ Venus Williams) are ahead of their male counterparts when it comes to success. Yet they rarely become the household names that their male equivalents do, and even if they do you’re not going to find big posters for kids to put on their bedroom walls. Which begs the question, is there shame in being a female sporting hero? Where are the posters for young men and women to put up of their favourite players who just happen to be female? Why must we persist with posters of Michael Jordan or football players as the dominant options? 365544-hockeyroos-win-in-delhi There is a circular argument that exists, where women’s sport would be more televised/reported on and have more prize money/sponsorship IF they had more people interested in them in the first place, and the only way they can have that is if they’re being televised/reported on… This is a cruel concept on many levels because it makes it incredibly hard for women to break out of the circular rhetoric that surrounds women’s sport. It makes it harder for women to dispel/confront or alter the myths surrounding womens sport (they might get hurt easier, they turn into men, something happens to their sexuality). It makes it harder for young women who are talented to determine their career paths and it makes it harder for some to support their families/self if they do choose to be a professional sportswoman.

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When scouring the Internet for articles on this topic it’s not hard to find the comments from Joe Blog demonising women in sport sometimes being overtly sexist, but often displaying sexist thoughts without being consciously aware of such. The overwhelming suggestion from men regarding how women could lift their profile in sport, was to “sexy it up” or that “Bikinis could save most female professional sports leagues”. This speaks volumes about the understanding of how hard sports people work (regardless of gender) and how far society has to come before we can accept the fact that a beach volleyball outfit is not the answer for the success of women’s sport in general. The argument that sex sells demeans the sport in question implying that without the “sex” element the sport wouldn’t be worth playing or watching at all. sex-sells-main Women in sport have been further compounded recently in Australia by our Minister for Women (PM Tony Abbott), thanks to the budget cuts to SBS and the ABC. As a result one of the first things to go is the televising of women’s sport. This is a frustrating and outrageous thing to have happen. Women in sport already get the bottom of the barrel when it comes to print media… women appear in the sport section not only after the men, but after the horses as well. 0 As a Phys Ed Teacher, the loss of televised women’s sport makes a bigger impact on my classroom than what was already happening because it decreases my chances of providing my students with great examples of women in sport. It allows some of my students to reinforce in their heads that women don’t belong in professional sport and it also makes it harder for my female students to identify and connect with sportswomen that they would like to emulate in their future. Ennis_2314669b Sport is suppose to be the great equaliser, the coming together of like minded combatants who desire nothing more than to overcome their previous attempts. We as a society allow these events to be altered by money, media coverage and the advertising world’s distorted views on what success is suppose to look like.

 

10 years on…

Posted in Life, News on September 11, 2011 by L.J

I wasn’t going to blog about Sept 11. I figured everyone already would be, and well after 10 years I honestly feel that we’ve heard all the stories that we’re ever going to want to hear about this horrific event. In fact I went so far as to place a post-it note on my drawing board suggesting that I think of a different topic altogether for my readers this week.

However… I got to listening to the radio this week on my way to work and the topic of 9/11’s tenth year anniversary was often mentioned and I found myself praying in the car that I wouldn’t be subjected to any more footage of the towers smoking whilst New Yorkers watched below in disbelief. I found this year that I just can’t handle it emotionally any more. I also find that very odd. Why do I get so emotional about something that hasn’t directly affected me? I didn’t lose a loved one.  In actual fact I slept through the whole thing only to wake up and witness the replays on the morning news as I prepared for my mundane day of uni… To this day I still regret going to uni, I wish I had of stayed home and watched this with my family instead of strangers. However in saying that it fascinated me that people were so keen to talk to each other, and for the briefest of moments there were no strangers, only other people feeling the same turbulent emotions.

Earlier this year I was sitting in an RE class where our year 9 students were watching a documentary of the day. They sat transfixed watching the tragedy unfold as people walked dazed in the streets, emergency crews rushed through the traffic and amateur cameramen could be heard behind their shaky footage uttering “oh god, oh god”. I couldn’t help drawing a stark comparison as I watched these kids do exactly what I was doing in a classroom at uni 10 years earlier. I also spent the period hoping that none of the students would ask me a question, because I had lost my voice, some how my throat had been replaced with a hard bubble. These students would have been 5 years old when this event occurred and prior to me pressing play on the video I asked them what they remembered and most couldn’t remember much if anything at all. It fascinated me that we’ve moved already into an age where there are high school students who have no memory of one of the biggest events in history.

So what did compel me to do my blog entry on 9/11 after saying I wouldn’t? I guess more than anything else it was simply that I felt that it wouldn’t be right not to say anything at all. This was a human tragedy. Innocent people died, and even more were left to deal with the aftermath. A story that really shook me as I listened to the radio this week was one man’s account of his morning. He spoke of going to pick up his son from school and as he stood outside the school he could hear the white noise of kids playing and laughing (they had been herded to the basement of the school where teachers had let them have free time and had been kept innocent of the situation). He said he was overcome with sadness as he realised that there would be parents picking their kids up that afternoon only to then explain why their father or mother would not be coming home again. The man on the radio said that for him, the face of this tragedy is the face of a 5 year old grieving and confused as he stood at his father’s funeral watching a process he was too young to understand.

To me stories like this are the reality of this event. When we reflect today on the tragedy that was September 11, let us remember first and foremost that it is a human tragedy. Let us not politicise it or speak of conspiracy theories or hate for a group of people. Let us remember those who lost someone and let us continue to support those who wish to be healed and to be able to move on.

 

Hypocrisy + Irony…

Posted in Michael Jackson, News, Pop Culture on September 3, 2011 by L.J

Life is full of little moments of hypocrisy and often it’s acted out by those who think they’re so much more clever than those around them. Life is also full of irony sometimes its the smirking “I knew it” kind or the “I can’t believe that came round full circle” kind. Every now and then though it’s the depressing kind. Of course I’m going to touch on the depressing kind, because I saw something in the news this week that made me shake my head at the stupidness that I saw.

I’m of course referring to the celebration of what would have been Michael Jackson’s 53rd birthday (if he was to be still with us) in Gary Indiana. The Jackson family saw it as an opportunity to get some free press and thought it would serve best if they paraded Michael’s three children in front of cameras and microphones to discuss life without their superstar father. (seen here).

Michael at 6 years

Now isn’t it ironic that Michael’s parents are repeating the process of putting their kids in the limelight with his children as they had done all those years ago with Michael and his brothers? Forget the irony for now though… let’s look at the sheer hypocrisy that’s so obvious now…

Yeah I’m talking about the behaviour of the press and the people who pay for or subscribe to these media sources. For years Michael Jackson was hounded by the press, followed intensely whenever he ventured into public view and to protect his children and effectively hide them from the surreal world of super stardom and tabloid trash press he chose to cover them with veils. For this he was ridiculed and bullied by news groups who labelled the whole idea as just another “wacky” thing from their favourite so called “wacky pay check.” (In other words they were pissed that Michael was taking away their chance for the “money shot”).

Now that he’s no longer here to protect his children they’ve been unveiled if you like and subsequently become regular press fodder and boy do the press just love it. From the tearful farewell at their father’s funeral to the “spotted on the street” happy snaps, to the organised interviews with Oprah and morning breakfast shows… these kids have become unwitting semi-celebrities and as a result, replacing the pay checks that dried up when their father passed away.

I watch all of this as it plays out in magazines and internet gossip sites and I can’t help but ask questions. When did it become okay to make celebrities out of children who are only famous for being the off-spring of a famous parent and nothing else? When did we as a society say we were okay with random paparazzi photos of children? More so would we like it if it were our own children on public display? How can we be so hypocritical to call Michael Jackson “wacky” for wanting to block his children from this fake/false world? Aren’t we the wacky ones for wanting to read and hear about these children?

Why couldn't we be content with just the images MJ consented for release?

More than anything I keep asking myself… What is wrong with his parents and his relatives? When they witnessed first hand the damage that was done to their own child through being thrust in the limelight… why would they agree to repeat the process with his children? Why is Joe Jackson getting his grandchildren to market his new “perfume product”? What makes a family stoop to the level of using their children/grandchildren for financial gain…. and above everything else… how is it that we the audience are so accepting of this behaviour? With all this going on… suddenly Diana Ross as a parent to these kids doesn’t sound like such a nutty idea after all.

I’ve tried to look for positives throughout all this and part of me thinks, well at least looking at the kids you can clearly see that they are his children. But then I think that with that one thought it means buying into the tabloid rubbish that fought so hard to build rumours and innuendo about the legitimacy of his kids. Though I had no doubts to begin with nor care, it did make me wonder why others invested so much time into caring whether they were really his.

Is the loss of a childhood a socially acceptable thing?...

I’m sure if Michael could see what’s happening now he’d be rolling in his grave. To think his kids are walking financial profits for some people. That his kids are on twitter with clearly no real clue as to how to protect themselves from online nasties. That his family are constantly looking for ways to profit from his name, profit from his children and profit from his fans (most recently and notably with the ill-fated and fan-club slammed so called “charity tribute event”). I can only hope that somehow someone magically arrives to provide a solution.

For now though I’m just hoping that justice will prevail in the trial of Dr Conrad Murray. How ironic is it that a case where all the evidence points to a man being innocent of molestation makes worldwide coverage for months… yet when the evidence is actually in existence that he was murdered through the ineptness of another… it makes a footnote in only some press stories? (Read about the case here).

Yes, I’m afraid in the upside down world of Michael Jackson and dominant tabloid press, irony and hypocrisy are plentiful whilst truth and justice scarce.

Osama…

Posted in News on May 2, 2011 by L.J

So, the real life version of the game “where in the world is Carmen Sandiego” is finally up with the discovery and then subsequent death of Osama bin Laden. The 6ft Saudi man on a dialysis machine who has managed to be hidden from the top agencies in the world… agencies who can count the freckles on my face when I sun-bake in my own backyard on a Sunday… and hidden for just under a decade since the announcement that he was the mastermind behind the horrendous Sept 11 attacks in 2001.

I remember that day, it happened late in the night here and I remember waking to a nightmare of people screaming. I remember not knowing what had happened until I went to my neighbour’s house in the morning for our routine trip to the train station only to be dumbstruck by the images of a smoking skyscraper, and then we watched as a second plane slammed into the second tower and I just kept thinking how ridiculous it all was. Later I would learn that friends of mine had lost partners and children in the destruction and I couldn’t do anything but gape at news reports and try to comfort people I knew across the otherside of the planet via the internet. Surreal was an understatement for the times. I still have a bunch of magazines from the days after, printed testimony of the times.

I remember agreeing with my US friends that someone had to pay for the atrocities that we had witnessed and when it was announced that it was a terrorist cell in the middle of nowhere, I found myself wondering “how did they manage to even pull this off?” I wanted justice for my friends, and for everyone else who had lost someone, but as Bush the second continued to make senseless and increasingly disjointed declarations on the villainy that was Al Qaeda and Osama, I found myself feeling less and less sure about what was going on… we were being snowballed… fill the world with information and let people get lost in it all.

So as it would happen, I started to get mad… this was being turned into a political issue, something that if it worked out okay, would at least give Bush his second term… weeks turned into months which turned into years and I still kept asking, how is it that they can’t find this supposed “mastermind”? I started reading a bit more, and I discovered a really creepy thing… the more you read… the less sense it all made. Then amongst all of this, came the conspiracy theories… which were then overtaken by the surprise find of Saddam Hussein… he was hiding in a hole in the ground… how crazy is that? Makes it sound like someone was walking along and looked down a hole and went *gasp* “Saddam! whatchu doin down there? Come out, people been lookin for your ass everywhere!” After his execution, I stopped following the news in the middle east as I realised something crucial (it took a while I know but everyone has to wait for their own penny to drop). The thing I realised was the simple fact that this was going to be never-ending.

So now they’ve finally found and removed Osama from the gene pool, but I found it interesting today that when I heard the news that my initial reaction was not “oh finally!” Instead it was a deep feeling of cynicism.  I caught myself thinking, “why only now?” and “so now what?” then I remembered conversations from last week when the wikileaks came out, revealing that Al Qaeda most likely have a nuclear weapon at their disposal hidden in Europe (of which my cynical brain then said “wonder if that is true or whether it’s in someone else’s power but they’re just saying it’s Al Qaeda”). I guess I can’t help but be cynical when it still stands that the FBI haven’t in 9+ years linked Osama to the 9/11 attacks (http://tiny.cc/6znp7). From the words of Rex Tom FBI Director of Investigative Publicity “bin Laden  has not been formally indicted and charged in connection with 9/11 because the FBI has no hard evidence connecting bin Laden to 9/11.”

However with everything I’ve said, and the fact that I’m still cynical about a lot of things that I hear on the news, don’t mistake my cynicism and comments for feeling sorry for Osama… regardless of whether he was truly the mastermind, or just the man who wanted to claim the act as his own, he was still a terrorist, he still encouraged men and women to go out and harm other human beings… and in his last cowardly act he used a woman as a shield when the navy seals came to collect him… and for those acts I hope that he gets the punishment he deserves and I hope that other terrorist leaders think twice about wanting to harm others…. remember this… what starts in chaos, ends in chaos.

Aside from my cynicism about all of this, I can’t help but feel concerned. Since sept 11, we’ve always had a face for the bogeyman of terrorism.. now who will replace this man? Who will we be told is the reason for the fear that allows governments to change laws that strip away our freedoms in the guise of protection.

I’m signing out tonight thinking that this blog post probably will make me sound like a raving crackpot, but these are the thoughts running through my head today… on this day which is being touted as historical.

Peace to all, and may my cynicism be unfounded, and may those who lost someone in any of the terrorist attacks over the last 10 years feel some closure at  this news.