From the Age; It appears that this AFLM thing stems from Kate Seear, an associate professor of law research services at Monash. Be prepared. This might gain traction.
What’s the big deal with the term ‘AFLM’?
I was baffled by the response to Bob Murphy’s column in The Age this week - an excellent piece about the changing face of masculinity in football. I was baffled, because most of the responses on social media focused not on the broader message of the article, but on one letter of the alphabet.
Who would have thought the letter M could cause so much drama?
The name of the game: The term AFLM has prompted some heated responses.
Here are just a few of the responses to the Murphy column posted as comments on The Age Real Footy Facebook page.
“No real man would say AFLM lol.”
“AFLM he’s lost the plot.”
“There’s no such thing as AFLM you muppets.”
It was even brought up on SEN radio on Thursday morning, with the hosts of the breakfast program, Garry Lyon and Tim Watson, speculating that it was an Age directive to use the term AFLM, rather than Murphy’s own choice.
Incidentally, the man himself says he used the term for a couple of reasons, none of them related to a non-existent mandate from AgeHQ. Firstly, he was conscious that it’s AFLW grand final week, with lots of coverage of women’s football, and he was specifically talking about the culture in the men’s game. And secondly, it’s just good writing to avoid repetition - in this case, of the phrase “the men’s game”.
So why do people care so much? Is it a case of AFL fans feeling threatened? And if so, what is there exactly to feel threatened about?
Like it or not, there are now two competitions badged as the highest level of Australian Rules football - one played by men and one played by women. Is it so crazy that the names of both competitions reflect that?
Changing the label on the game does not change the game itself. In fact, the game is Australian Rules football, and the AFL is just the league. If you can believe it, here in Victoria it used to be called the VFL. Amazingly, when the name changed and more teams joined, our game actually expanded and grew, reaching even more people. What a terrible outcome.
A couple of years ago, Cricket Australia made the decision to call our national teams the Australian men’s cricket team and the Australian women’s cricket team, respectively. Unbelievably, the sky did not fall when they did so.
That change can be laughed (or frowned, as the case may be) off as political correctness. But it’s more than that. It’s a very public declaration that the Australia’s women cricketers are just as important as the men.
Language is hugely important, whether it’s subtle or not. Kate Seear, an associate professor of law research services and member of the Outer Sanctum team, wrote about this for Monash University’s Lens just days ago. She argued, citing Our Watch, that there is “a strong connection between disrespectful and stereotypical language about and towards women, and violence against women”.
“If the AFL women’s league is to be known as AFLW, the men’s league should be recast as AFLM,” she wrote. “Until it does so, the AFL is positioning the men’s competition as ‘the default’ or norm, and the women’s as the negative. Even if unintentional, this devalues the women’s game, and women.”
One of the main issues readers seemed to have with Murphy’s use of “AFLM” was that no other league around the world does it. But aren’t we proud of our game as something special, individual, unique? Are those same people who argue that we shouldn’t use AFLM because it’s not NBAM or FIFA World CupM also the ones who despair that the game is becoming more like rugby/basketball/netball?
If nothing else, think about your own wives, sisters, friends, daughters, girlfriends - though you shouldn’t have to know or identify with someone to want them to be treated equally.
There was outrage when Prime Minister Scott Morrison told an International Women’s Day event: “we want to see women rise … we don’t want to see women rise only on the basis of others doing worse”. Morrison was roundly howled down for his comments.
Would you want your daughter growing up knowing that she can do anything, even play football - as long as she doesn’t dare step into the men’s domain?
As Murphy put it, “who knew the power of M?”