I don’t know the answer to this question.
On the one hand, I believe we should call out sexism when we see/hear it.
On the other hand, they both clearly love the attention so perhaps we shouldn’t give it to them. After all, can you imagine how pissed off Kyle Sandilands would be if everyone stopped paying attention to him?
I’m writing about this: ‘I don’t do charity like that!’: Brereton under fire over sexist Facebook taunts:
Former AFL star Dermott Brereton insists he has the utmost respect for women despite sexually taunting an Age journalist on a publicly accessible Facebook page.
(I didn’t get a screengrab of it, but it was the main image on theage.com.au until Kevin Rudd quit as Foreign Minister from the safety of the US, in an announcement perfectly timed for the nightly news. Cynical, moi?)
Now, given the reason why most Australians would know the name Ricky Nixon, it was clear before this story that he has a problem with his judgement. And it’s not the first time Brereton has been in trouble for his comments about women. But what do we achieve by making this a Big Story when neither takes it seriously? And when it doesn’t seem to hurt their careers all that much. Sure, Nixon has had his agent accreditation suspended, but since he’s charging $1500 a head to watch a football game with him (and it was Suzanne Carbone’s column mocking him for this that brought on the comments from Nixon and Brereton), it’s pretty likely that people will pay it. He still has some influence.
I’m not suggesting we should ignore pigheaded comments by (vaguely) public figures, but I wonder if there’s a better way of dealing with it that might actually make them understand why comments like this are not cool.
Because the thing that makes me uneasy about the way this story is reported is that there are a lot of words repeating their obnoxious views, but only a few words directly saying their comments are wrong.
After all, if the story really was calling them on their terrible attitude towards women, it would start with the comments from AFL spokesman Patrick Keane that “From our point of view we absolutely don’t condone any such behaviour”, rather than “Brereton insists he has the utmost respect for women”. Keane’s comments are right at the very bottom. Many people wouldn’t have read that far.
So what we end up with – and sure, I’m contributing to this by blogging about it but I don’t know what else to do and besides, I’m not a major news website – is that we reinforce Brereton and Nixon’s world view that what they say is newsworthy and any repercussions will be short-lived.
I don’t have an answer for the question I posed in the heading. Yes, we should call out sexism. But I’m not convinced that reporting the sexist rubbish – verbatim and largely unchallenged – of a couple of idiots who probably thought they were having a private conversation, does anything more than give them a platform for their attitudes.