Heat and conversation

“To anyone who is saying ‘Lighten up, it’s just a joke,’ they need to understand that what we say matters and jokes like this about women are simply not on.”

Danny Frawley, part time assistant coach of St Kilda in an address to club and players. (21st June 2016)

Now take note, Triple M, this is how someone has taken a mistake, listened to those around them, learned from it, and become a better person. I am very proud of Danny Frawley and the St Kilda Football Club’s response to the outrageous few days we’ve had.

There are some brilliant articles that have been written in response, see links below. I have just a few observations to make:

One of the articles talks of Eddie McGuire’s biography and the story of his older brother allowing his friends to push Eddie under the water and water bomb him. Reading this, if it is indeed true, makes sense of a lot of Eddie’s behaviours.

Often when people are bullied (or are overwhelmed by someone they love like an older brother) when they are young, they can find themselves repeating such behaviours later in life. This is all speculation, but if someone like Eddie tried to make sense of humiliating behaviour of a beloved older brother and couldn’t, he almost becomes the older brother later on, convincing himself over and over through life that it’s all good fun. In this instance of the ice-bath, he becomes the one urging friends on, and is at first puzzled that anyone could be upset. He may have repressed all his upset long ago. And perhaps his accumulation of power is so that he can’t be bullied again, thus becoming the bully over time (and perhaps projecting outwards who actually is the bully). His reactions seem to be of bewilderment. Why are they picking on me (Caroline Wilson, public reaction, Holden)? And he has withdrawn to go away, feeling very much under attack.

This made me feel really sorry for the man that Eddie has become, and the men his sons will grow up to be. I have seen the occasional flashes of Eddie being unhappy at the footy, and his older son looking equally unhappy in an almost mirroring fashion. If Eddie’s behaviour was learned, will his sons be learning their attitudes from their father? How have his sons dealt with this week, have they had to endure bullying as others have reacted to their dad?

This connects to the above quote of Danny Frawley. Danny talked to his wife and his three daughters and people from his St Kilda workplace and actually listened. This response is from a man who has said something that he can now actually hear and feel and understand, and feels shame and remorse and a wish to make acts of reparations. He wants to make amends.

I wonder too if the diverse reactions to the last few days shows such a split in the wider population. For all the talk back callers on SEN, all the blokes that just didn’t get it, I wonder what their experiences with fathers and brothers have been? I wonder at Wayne Carey and how he ended up the bully he became? The same goes for James Brayshaw. And with Sam Newman’s response, you are left to wonder about his attachments. They are all attached to each other, that has been clear, but Sam said that if you can’t take the heat (of men’s so-called banter), then you shouldn’t work in the (footy) world and be amongst men.

Do they have daughters? Can a father/brother/son relate to what the feeling of a loved one can be on reflection? Do most men actually understand what the women in their lives experience every day?

The Richmond Footy Club, according to Jack Riewoldt, talked about all this. Talked to their partners. And have decided to not talk to Triple M this weekend. They talked. They listened.

I often reflect to myself that I learned fear from my mum and a “have a go” from my dad, though he did have a temper which scared the crap out of us kids (my brother fought back) and left both my sister and I and my brother with a tendency to step back from conflict. Dad would be calm, annoyed, more annoyed and then scream.

Did Dad learn that from his experiences as a child, having to be a big boy and young man, and hide both his essential self and his actual self from the bullies of the French Police and the Nazis intent on killing him and his family. They got his dad, my grandfather.

My mother passed on her acute sensitivity to aggression, and it can be both a help and a hindrance. Her family was also hunted and her family ran, thus surviving. I step back when there is aggression about. I tend not to comment on sites even at the Almanac at times when the conversations get heated. I step away from people who I sense are too much for me.

I have two daughters and a son. I have a brother and a sister. I can see how the world is experienced differently. I have less fear of my son’s nocturnal activity than my daughters. I know young men can be attacked and hurt, but women are often hunted and hurt. The statistic of one woman being killed a week by a partner or ex-partner is shattering.

I also reflected that when something like these events come to light, there is a huge reaction, a huge swing of support and opposition, and I am hoping that as the heat settles all of us can get past the anger and into some understanding.

Eddie and his cohorts become vilified by some, which in turn can make them more defensive and closed off. (Or bring out the need in other men to stand up for them, like Sam and the callers to SEN.)

It is good that perhaps some of the consequence will be that this conversation is being had, that group after group of both men and women are having a discussion with those they can. For those who can’t discuss or think, I hope you have people in your lives who care enough to keep trying. This week has shown that there is a lot of talking and thinking that needs to continue. The conversation is ongoing:


Erin Riley, “It’s never a joke,” posted 19 June at  http://erinriley.com.au/blog

Caroline Wilson, “Eddie McGuire’s ice pool attack took me back to the bad old days,” http://www.theage.com.au/afl/afl-news/caroline-wilson-eddie-mcguires-ice-pool-attack-took-me-back-to-the-bad-old-days-20160620-gpn1kv.html

Stephanie Holt, “Some tips for Eddie McGuire and other blokes about women in AFL football,” The Guardian, 20 June; https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2016/jun/20/some-tips-for-eddie-mcguire-and-other-blokes-about-women-in-afl-football

Miki Perkins, “We cannot let the misogynist banter of Eddie McGuire slip past,” http://www.theage.com.au/afl/afl-news/we-cant-let-the-misogynist-banter-of-eddie-mcguire-slip-past-20160619-gpmmyk

Russell Jackson, “Eddie McGuire’s ‘banter ’exposes the rank hypocrisy of AFL Football,” https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2016/jun/20/eddie-mcguires-banter-exposes-the-rank-hypocrisy-of-afl-football

e.regnans, “Respect for women – the conversation we shouldn’t be having,” https://www.footyalmanac.com.au/respect-of-women/

And the source that brought all this to light, “The Outer Sanctum Podcast, ” episode 14 available via iTunes or Soundcloud at http://www.outersanctum.com.au

With a followup by Kate Seear, “Eddie McGuire, Caroline Wilson and when ‘playful banter’ goes very very wrong,” https://theconversation.com/eddie-mcguire-caroline-wilson-and-when-playful-banter-goes-very-very-wrong-61271FAlmanac banner sq


About Yvette Wroby

Yvette Wroby writes, cartoons, paints through life and gets most pleasure when it's about football, and more specifically the Saints. Believes in following dreams and having a go.


  1. Matt Quartermaine says

    Lovely piece Yvette. One of my favourite moments happened on SEN when Dermott Brereton cut off a female listener very upset with rampant sexism saying “let me tell you why what Eddie said wasn’t sexist.” Men not listening indeed.

  2. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Did Frawley only just realise that he had a wife and 3 daughters? It took these recent events to see the world through their eyes? What’s he been thinking for the past thirty-odd years?

  3. E.regnans says

    Good on you, Yvette.
    Seeking understanding.

    I see that psychologist Steve Biddulph has a comment piece in today’s Age.
    Interesting reading in the light of these so-called “Boy-Men” who feel the need to denigrate others to feel good about themselves. And then become defensive about it.
    The idea of men wearing “masks” makes a lot of sense.


    I was part of a study group when our kids were younger called “Men tuning into kids” (or similar).
    We met weekly for a while to discuss times when we’d felt angry, disappointed, upset, happy, …the full spectrum. The idea was for fathers of young ones to be more aware of their own emotions, and then to help their kids understand their own emotions.
    The crux was that men showing this awareness would parent better, and therefore raise children more emotionally adjusted.

    We were encouraged to chat about emotions with our kids. Breaking into a game/ story/ tantrum. pointing to a chart of smiley/indifferent/sad/angry faces and asking the child: “which of these are you feeling now?”
    Building understanding.

    There are lots of questions there.
    On we go.

  4. Yvette Wroby says

    Thanks all, Matt, I think Dermett is another interesting study, having come lately to realize that racist attacks on indigenous players and feeling ashamed of it once he understood. He eventually apologized. Mark, I think there is understanding and there is really getting it type of understanding. I think there was also a massive “groupthink” happening, they all got swept up unthinkingly, and when they step away from that particular circle, their own individual thinking reconnects. Thanks for that link David, its very interesting and and gives me hope when the discussion goes away from attacking (which only brings defensiveness) and goes to thought, new paths are possible. For fathers to have a chance to think about how their reactions affect kids, marvelous. It would have helped my Dad, who thankfully before he died, got some chance to think more. I think we often tend to go back to a type of ourselves that’s not our best selves when under stress or feeling under attack.

    Thanks all

  5. Very powerful and honest arguments. Thanks Yvette.
    The child is the father to the man. One of my profoundest beliefs is that the excess of masculine over feminine personality traits is at the core of most of the world’s problems – large and small. Brute ruthless power rules.
    Eddie’s ego tantrums are a small example of the larger excesses of Trump, Putin and fundamentalist thugs everywhere. That is why discussing his bullying tantie is both unimportant and crucial. A pointer to bigger truths.
    More power to your arm.

  6. Trucker Slim says

    Thanks Yvette, especially for the personal reflections. The personal is political.

    That these behaviours and attitudes are being called out and the public is responding in the manner it is (mostly) is heartening. Keep pushing until it’s understood.


  7. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Thoughtful and beautifully written Yvette. Sometimes it’s in the throwaway lines and casual conversation where you get to see true characters of people revealed. One thing I’ve learned from this is that we stop learning once we stop listening. Cheers

  8. jan courtin says

    Hi Yvette
    Whether or not Eddie’s brother pushed him under the water and water bombed him, I think is irrelevant. There is a bit of a myth in the general belief that if one has been abused (in whatever manner) that person becomes the abuser. Research indicates that this is generally not the case. Even if it were the case in his situation, he surely, as a powerful public figure, should have learned by now when to keep his loud mouth shut!

    His “King Kong” racist reference certainly didn’t come from a possible previous personal experience!

    Thanks for your thoughts.

  9. Good work Yvette, and I’m sure you’re right in stressing the importance of the past for the present. As William Faulkner famously said, “The past isn’t dead; it isn’t even past.”

    Credit to Spud.

    And kudos for the Tiges.

  10. Thank you all. Thoughts are appreciated x

  11. Stephanie Holt says

    Great piece Yvette!
    Always worth remembering that explanations are valuable, without confusing them with excuses, and to think about the nuances around individuals, as well as the systemic and cultural aspects.
    Humour has always been used to both push and test boundaries – which is a good thing! Agree, Danny’s response rang of sincerity as well as some genuine shame that he’d lost sight of where it needed to be. Shame is something Eddie seems incapable of. (His big moment of public distress? The loss to Carlton. Pur-leaze …)
    I seem to remember back in the day that Danny’s wife led some moves at the club to provide support to wives and families, and have always thought she must be a pretty terrific woman.

  12. John Butler says

    A piece revealing much greater self awareness than many of the protagonists in this shemozzle.

    Good on you Yvette.

  13. jan courtin says

    Hi Yvette
    I’m so excited about your win tonight, and just wanted to convey it to you! Heart racing stuff indeed! Just an amazing win by your young boys! A bit of the excitement is of course because we go above Geelong – at least for a short time; I can’t help but want wins/losses that have an impact on my team.

    Apologies for intruding on the comments relevant to your story in this post.


  14. That’s cool Jan I will take cheers for saints anywhere

  15. Pamela Sherpa says

    Swish ,you echoed my thoughts “When did Frawley realise he had a wife and three daughters ?” As for Richmond and their boycott. Where were their leaders when Dustin Martin was threatening a woman ?

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