Where are all the girls, Dad?

Come with me into the world and reclaim your independence. You stand to gain so much, and riches are the least of it.
– Patrick DeWitt, The Sisters Brothers

It’s a summer morning.
Brekky around the table.
Daughters on school holidays.
I’m trying to absorb the paper.
Happily, with a Test match in play, I’ve got Malcolm Knox and Greg Baum and Chloe Saltau with my weetbix and yoghurt.
Buddy Ooon notices.

– What’s that you’re reading, Dad?

Buddy Yum answers on my behalf.

– It’s the paper, Bud.
– I can see that, Buddy Yum.
– Oh. Then why did you ask?
– I mean, what is the story about?
– Oh, sar-dines Bud.
– That’s OK Bud. Dad, what is the story about?
– Hmmm..?
– Dad, Buddy Ooon is asking you what that newspaper story is about. Oh, look Ooon. There’s a photo of a cricket man.
– Oh, yeah, Bud.
– Is he wearing a box?
– Yeah Dad, is he wearing a box?

I purchased a box for a recent cricket match.
It remains an hysterically funny item in our house.
Everyone is laughing.

– Yep, he probably is wearing a box.
– Oh, look, Bud, he’s got a cricket bat.
– Dad, where are the cricket girls?
– Yeah Dad, where are the cricket girls? Why are they always cricket men?
– Where are all the girls, Dad?

Ahh, that’s grand. They have my full attention now.

– What do you mean?
– I mean, why are all the cricket people in the paper men?
– And on TV, too, Bud.
– Yeah Bud. On TV, too. Don’t girls play cricket?
– Well yes, they do.
– So why aren’t they in the paper?

Excellent questions from Ooon (8 years old) and Yum (6).
Where are their ongoing societal role models for a sporting life of participation?
Neither of them is nuts about sport. But they enjoy playing games.

– They should be, shouldn’t they Bud?
– Yes, let’s ring up the paper, Bud.
– Good idea.
– Dad what’s the number?

And sure, Ooon and Yum’s mother runs and/or rides to work each day.
She is a brilliant role model of living fitness.
Role models close to home (or in the home) are perhaps best of all.
But there remains a relative vacuum in the coverage of female team sport in Australia.

– Let’s not ring up the paper just now, Buds. Instead, let’s try and think of any women we’ve seen in the paper.
– There are none.
– None? Come on.
– Nope. There are none.
– None.
– It’s not fair.

Something I’ve always known.
But something I’m feeling ever more keenly as I increasingly see the world through the growing eyes of Buddies Ooon and Yum. How does their world view differ from boys their age? Where are their limits?

– Yeah, it’s not fair. All the footy players are men, too.
– Yeah Bud, it’s not fair.

Recently we enjoyed seeing the Australian women’s cricket team play a T20 versus England on TV. Big pony tails protruding from underneath cricket caps. We watched 6 or 7 overs. Ooon and Yum were very interested.

– We’re going to be in the paper, aren’t we Bud?
– Yeah Bud. We’re going to be in the paper.
– Ahh, what will you be doing in the paper?

Imagine if coverage of women’s representative team sport was equal to that of the men.

– We’re going to make it fair, aren’t we Bud?
– Yeah Bud. We’re going to make it fair.

About David Wilson

David Wilson is a writer, editor, flood forecaster and former school teacher. He writes under the name “E.regnans” at The Footy Almanac and has stories in several books. One of his stories was judged as a finalist in the Tasmanian Writers’ Prize 2021. He is married and has two daughters and the four of them all live together with their dog, Pip. He finds playing the guitar a little tricky, but seems to have found a kindred instrument with the ukulele. Favourite tree: Eucalyptus regnans.

Comments

  1. Ooon and Yum seem unusually insightful young men EiiR. Will their wisdom last into puberty and the onslaught of popular culture and peers? Parenting is a tough gig, but you and Wonder Woman seem to be up to the challenge.
    I pondered your question, and Tora Bright will surely dominate our back pages for the next week. Then I thought will there be any unphotogenic women in the sports pages? Blokes can have mugs like pumpkins and still be poster heroes, but women need cheekbones and/or glamour.
    “You’ve come a long way baby”??? Or have we just got clever in convincing them “you know you want it”??
    Back on the paleolithic era when I was ‘dating’, most blokes made some effort to wear a clean shirt or at least ‘put on their best to impress a lady’. Every time I go to the nightclub areas now, every glammed up babe has a bloke in jeans, old t-shirt and trainers on her arm.
    WE’VE WON (pyrrhic victory but). Its like one of those ‘devolution of the species’ posters.
    Keep fighting the good fight – WW and EiiR.

  2. Cheers PB- but Ooon & Yum are girls!
    Might add a different flavour to the reading.
    Thanks again

  3. Doh.
    Regards,
    Homer
    (I blame the constant ‘bud’ references)

  4. Malcolm Ashwood says

    E regnans top article and the girls are totally correct over here , in Adelaide the thunderbirds netball side and to a lesser extent the lightning re basketball get reasonable coverage photo wise and then beach volleyball ( in bikinis always ) and yes no doubt it more than helps if the girl is attractive . No idea on the solution tho
    Thanks OBP ( opening batting partner )

  5. Luke Reynolds says

    Cricket Australia has made great progress in the promotion of Women’s cricket in recent years. The Southern Stars have had a big pay increase in the past 12 months. Reasonable TV coverage, though disappointing the Ashes Test match had none. But there’s a long way to go. Some seriously good players in both the Australian and English teams. Hope the interest continues to grow.

  6. Luke Reynolds says

    Absolutely stunned by the revelation that the Avenging Eagle let’s Peter go to nightclub areas. Thought he was under a much tighter reign…

  7. Hi Rulebook (OBP) – Thanks. Loving the idea to question the status quo.
    Hi Luke – it was terrific to have the Southern Stars on free-to-air television as brief as it was. Little steps in the right direction.
    I learned at the park over summer that Ooon has a natural leg-cutter action & Yum takes a fine catch. Interest to foster. Cheers.

  8. My girl is now 7 and though I try to get her interested its a hard ask – I guess part of that is because there are no girls – the other is there is a lack of sporting culture here in Singapore. Don’t think she has twigged yet though like your girls.

    Good luck to Ooon and Yum and there quest to make it fair! (interesting names BTW)

  9. Mickey Randall says

    David, your girls ask many perceptive questions! Hopefully, during the course of their lives they’ll see continuous improvement in these areas.
    And of course they’re correct that the cricket box is very funny, for so many reasons. Unless of course one goes out to bat without wearing it, and invariably then cops one! Saw this once or twice when playing! Saw a few cracked after some vicious fast bowling too! The comedic (and tragic) possibilities are limitless.

  10. Hi Singaporeans(?)
    Hi Djlitsa- all the best navigating alongside your 7 year old. We seem to have about a dozen games of make-believe on the go at any one time here. And we each consequently take on dozens of character roles. The favourite of our kids has them playing The Super Buds. Buddy Ooon and Buddy Yum are self-labelled character names. It’s brilliant.
    Hi Mickey- we probably all like our kids to dream large. The gender glass ceiling and focus on female appearance rather than participation is frustrating to see. And yes, there has been some progress. We all noticed here when we had females as Governor- General, Prime Minister, school principal, my boss and Ooon&Yum’s mum’s boss.
    Good to celebrate the progress. And to keep dreaming. Thanks.

  11. Ben Footner says

    I have to say the same questions crossed my mind while watching the women’s 20/20 last week.

    I actually really enjoyed it, and found myself wishing that we saw more women’s cricket on TV. Gee there was some skill on display. The stroke play was superb, and refreshing in a day and age that values brute strength so highly.

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