In the quarter finals of the cricket match,
The ball hit him hard.
Boys don’t cry.
In the semi-finals,
It hurt again.
He felt ashamed.
He fought his tears hard.
In the finals,
It hurt more.
He did not cry.
He bowled more and more fiercely,
Denying all he felt.
The crowd cheered.
The boys patted.
The girls smiled brighter.
He was hailed as ‘the hero.’
That was his first day of perfect ‘self-deception.’
— Paromita Bordoloi, a young poet from Assam.
0Peter Fitz Simons, a senior columnist of the revered Sydney Morning Herald celebrated the first Ashes Test win this Australian summer for the hosts in these words, “Australia at last has the missing ingredient that it has long been looking for. A handle-bar moustache! Mitchell Johnson‘s is an absolute beauty, and from the moment it has come in to play, with both bat and ball, our blokes have had the swagger of old. Johnson has batted like Ian Chappell, bowled like Dennis Lillee and toiled like Merv Hughes. The machismo is back, the swagger is there once more…”
That there, coming from one of the senior cricket journalists of a ‘sporting’ nation says it all. A nation that takes most pride in its sporting achievements and mentality also seems to take pride in its deep-rooted sexism and its patriarchal mindset, wherein the little boy plays in the backyard, while the princess of the family cheers from the stands.
The above-cited poem by Paromita (a wonderful young master of the verses) quite eloquently sums up the prevailing sexism and love for the machismo in the world of cricket. And for one, also shows that the girl also knows her sport.
The love for machismo in sports, the affection for men’s sports stems from our roots — our patriarchal upbringing. It lies in our everyday banter and jokes: ‘Tera bat mere se chota hai’ (a common friendly joke among Indian males meaning ‘Your you-know-what is smaller than mine’).
In a matter of six words, you can actually classify cricket to be a sport meant strictly for men. But how are they to blame, after all, as famous male-feminist artist Jamie McCartney wrote underneath his sculpture ‘The Wall of Vaginas’ — “But of course, where does the vagina come into play? The female body is chained by the murky politics of the male psyche.”
And when we talk of machismo is sports, cricket is no exception. A few months back, Firdose Moonda, one of the better cricket journalists today, got a taste of the prevailing sexism in South African cricket on Twitter. Moonda had written an article on South Africa’s last year’s tour of Sri Lanka, wherein she statistically described why Alviro Petersen’s selection was questionable. Petersen didn’t take it too well, and was joined by a few fellow Tweeps. He used words and phrases such as “dear”, “let me do the research for you”, “for free”.
In Moonda’s own words from her post on citypress.co.za:
“Petersen did not enter into the same conversation with a male journalist who questioned whether his run in the one-day team was over.
“But his true colours emerged when he retweeted a message from @Rg0112 who suggested I ‘find something else to write about, food or clothes maybe.’ Then, what was a cricket argument turned into a sexist mudslinging match.
“I was sent a YouTube video titled ‘@FirdoseM v @AlviroPetersen’ of a man and woman engaging in martial arts. The woman is soundly beaten. Another from @incubustard read, ‘u suck at ur job, if someone thinks u should be inside a kitchen, start screwing up less.’ ”
Don’t fret, the South African opener isn’t the only one who believes women should remain confined to their kitchen holes. Sir Ian Botham was recently caught out on Twitter for his blatant sexist remarks while commentating during the fourth Ashes 2013 Test in England, “So if you’ve just got in … if you were dragged to the supermarket by the wife, here are the wickets.”
Well Beefy, you too have got company in believing women are the reason cricket’s experiencing lower turnouts by the day. A reality TV show in Australia, Gruen Planet asked its participants in one of its episodes last October to sell the then unsellable product: Australian cricket. One of the teams made a video, which shows how the husband buys expensive gifts and makes breakfast for the wife only to let him watch the match. Brilliant, is it?
And Petersen would make a great opening pair with Chris Gayle, I tell you. The 34-year-old opener is known to be a colourful presence on and off the field, but even by his standards, his tweets last month approached ‘outrageous’ status.
It all started out innocently enough, with a tweet about wanting more sleep, but it wasn’t long before Gayle’s chatter turned to more pressing matters. Namely, women and which types of them he prefers.
Among the plethora of unconventional advice provided by the Jamaican were several tweets that are sure to upset women’s rights activists, such as, “Fat, single and she’s still eating pringles” and “For every male action, there’s a female overreaction”. Scroll down to read some of his jaw-dropping tweets:
It’s unfortunate, to say the least, that these sportsmen are the role models for the next generation, the flag-bearers of tomorrow’s hope look up to these men.
And the mess is all over the place. It’s been there forever.
In the first week of January, the solicitor and mother-of-two – 35-year-old Sydney woman Lynda Reid —was waiting to enter the Member’s Stand of the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) on Day Two of the Sydney Test, when she was told she would not be allowed entry to the ground on account of what she was wearing.
At the time, officials told Reid that the length of the floral dress she was wearing was “inappropriate”. Specifically, they said the hemline of the dress was too short and did not adhere to dress standards set by the Club.
Reid, who has been a member of the Sydney Cricket Ground for 25 years, was appalled by this decision and has since asked for her membership to be cancelled.
”I am a corporate solicitor,” Reid told Fairfax media. ”I know what is appropriate and not. I am not some hick from wherever.”
Reid said she has checked the SCG Members’ dress code the night before and was confident that her outfit complied with the standards. This was the dress. Now you decide appropriate or not:
The dress Linda Reid wore to the Test match. Picture Courtesy - Linda Reid's Twitter account
Now that was the members stand at the SCG. Last year during the English leg of the Ashes, a friend had gone to watch the first Test at Trent Bridge with his two sons (seven and four-year olds). They were seated in the block adjacent to the pavilion end. He couldn’t carry on for more than a session as his elder one started questioning him, ‘Dad, what’s rape?’
Unfortunately, rape has become the favourite ‘joke’ in modern sports — it has become the standard of measuring one team’s dominance over the other. The social media is flooded with rape jokes — stuff like “Chris Gayle has raped Pune Warriors India”, “Virat Kohli has been charged with the crime of raping Australia”. It’s sick when such a sad and painful word is used in such mindless and insensitive manner.
The evolution of the game hasn’t helped the cause one bit. It has only made space for a more robust male gaze and masochistic spectatorship. Look at the Indian Premier League. You find female anchors with very little knowledge of the game presented by the camera as meat loafs to hungry wolves, and the saddest part is that these ladies are happy to play the part.
Cricket is probably experiencing a huge moment in its history, with India taking centrestage. A moment which demands books to be written, films to be made on the sport’s current form and size. But unfortunately, cricket has grown, but not evolved. It’s hard to see how the sport can kick out the sexism out of the window. For all we know, the authorities are not bothered one bit about it. You go to the stadium for an international encounter, you see the International Cricket Council (ICC) taking initiative to fight racism. Why not sexism? Is this sport meant for a particular gender?
Ultimately, it’s for you to decide the answer to the last question.