Every four years Australia is given an opportunity to illustrate to the nation, and to the world, just how much we have changed.
The Olympics come around and there’s a lot of new coverage about how good Australians are at sport, what an excellent inclusive country we are and just how badly we’re going to beat those awful pommies.
Something about needing to beat the English really matters to Australia. Like the ex boyfriend you just can’t forgive for dumping you, or the girl that beat you for school captain (or is that just me, best women get vice anyway) we can’t seem to face an Olympics without hyping up some jingoistic pride about just how wrong they were to banish us.
Australian’s love their sport. Well, that really needs a clarification, Auslian’s love their men’s sport. Their women’s sport not so much. It’ funny because there are some things that it appears that women are allowed to be good at, like tennis and lingerie football, but not a lot else.
Our Olympics coverage started out a little dicey, there was the awkward information that while the male Olympians were flown business and first class to London for the Olympics while the women Olympians were flown economy. Now while I’m not inclined to be particularly sympathetic to people complaining about not flying business class, however this time was different.
Our women’s Olympic teams are almost always way better at being Olympians than the male ones. The women win more medals and beat more pommy teams than the men. But they get paid less and have to fly coach.
The gig got somewhat worse yesterday when swimmer Leisel Jones had an article written by Fairfax about how she was ‘out of shape’ and treting the Olympics ‘like a holiday’. Never one to let the words do the walking they included pictures (taken from angles that would make Miranda Kerr look rather short and stout) of Jones.
The words ‘this wouldn’t happen to a man’ have seemed to lose all of their meaning at this point. Jones is a talented swimmer, who debuted in the Australian team at the age of fourteen. Commenting that her body has changed since then is stating the obvious. To use deliberately unflattering pictures of a swimmer to make an argument that has no basis is a fate we can only allow for a woman. Male sports men are too well respected by Australians.
What do you think about the Jones incident? What does it say about Australian attitudes to female sports people?