INGRID DOULTON Professor of Women’s Issues | [email protected]

MEN’S SPORT IS in crisis after our “big three” national teams were humiliated over the weekend.

The answer to the problems don’t lie in the coaching or support staff, nor the governing bodies behind them. The problem stems from the players themselves. Misogyny is destroying men’s sport because it’s slowly becoming evident that the place of women within  these sporting codes is tokenistic.

So why do women feel the need to force themselves upon men’s sport?

Would our fore-mother’s be proud of what we’ve made of their struggles?

I’m calling out all Australian men to fight the battle against the suppression of women’s sport.

Now that developments surrounding the Kurtley Beale text message controversy have come to light, it’s clearer than ever that men need to re-evaluate and learn to respect women in sport. Take our national netball team for an example – they’re now undefeated in 13 straight internationals. If you’re a man, you probably wouldn’t have know that. I don’t blame you. It doesn’t make you a misogynist, it just makes you ignorant. You see, these women have worked hard for many years to get to the level they’re at – but men don’t care.

While men pride themselves as being able to climb the highest mountain and cross the wildest ocean, no man has been able to conquer the last frontier – to professionalise women’s sport.

Without interest, it’s nigh on impossible to monetize women’s sport.

This lack of interest falls under the dark umbrella of misogyny – if you hate netball, you must also hate your mothers, wives, girlfriends and daughters.

The back page of every newspaper in the country has been monopolised by the sagas of the male sporting universe and that needs to change if women’s sport is going to be taken seriously. The first steps we need to take in combating this issue is for editors and media owners to start taking a genuine interest. That isn’t going to be hard but it’s a whole lot easier than urinating while standing.

One proposition I put forward to the netball associations is to introduce things like being able to slam dunk in competition because that’s what will bring in male audiences. Perhaps even the introduction of three-pointers might also help. But it’s not just netball. Other women’s sport such as cricket might also benefit of rule modifications. For example, cricket. Women can’t hit the ball as far as men can so why are girls forced to play on the same ovals?

Governments need to pour more money in to building small cricket venues so the girls can appear to be as explosive as the boys. If a ground was smaller, then more sixes would be hit. The pitch should also be shorter so the illusion of speed would be heightened. Most men don’t even notice when girls make a special effort on an outfit so they wouldn’t even realise these small modifications to women’s sporting codes. Trust me.

Sadly, because men have infiltrated high up in to female sport, girls are continually oppressed by the rules and facilities bound by mens sport. Also, the opportunities afford to professional male athletes are more common that their female counterparts. This is because the media and society have marketed men as being superior in the sporting world. This is were the problem lies and this is what men need to fix if there’s going to be any future in women’s sport.

This is no exaggeration. This country was built on equality for all!

Professor Ingrid Doulton earned her PhD in women’s issues from the University of Sydney in 2012. She completed her undergraduate studies at La Trobe University in regional Victoria soon after completing high school. Immediately after, she began her Masters at The University of Canberra with her dissertation in women’s sport. She is chairwomen of the Women’s Literacy Foundation and a brand ambassador for Rexona. Prof. Doulton lives in Sydney’s upper north shore with her dog, Peter.  


  1. Your assumption that men don’t like netball because it’s played by women is ridiculous and takes all credibility away from an otherwise reasonable article. The assertion that someone doesn’t like a sport purely based on the gender that plays it is so wrong it’s hard to know where to start. I don’t care for basketball, or soccer or even AFL regardless of which gender is playing. They’re just not sports I find entertaining. You can add netball to that list, but not because it’s only played at the elite level by women (or as you extrapolate, because I hate my mother) but because it also doesn’t interest me.

  2. It’s all well and good to write an article, complaining about sexism, but you lose any moral high ground you thought you had with this:

    Most men don’t even notice when girls make a special effort on an outfit so they wouldn’t even realise these small modifications to women’s sporting codes. Trust me.

    One other note, the ‘smaller cricket grounds’ you refer to already exist. Matches are played on them regularly. North Sydney Oval being one example.

  3. Yeah too right Ingrid. While we’re at it let’s fight the blatant ageism that has infected sporting culture for too long. Why don’t we get sell out crowds to the under 8s!!! It’s ageist! We should make the grounds smaller for the little tikes to hit more sixes.

    Whatever the sport, those who follow it want to watch the best, and whether you like it or not Ingrid, in the majority or sports the best are going to be men.

    Can I ask Ingrid, do you know how long since the Australian men’s netball team lost? What does this mean about your relationship with your father?

  4. ahh I just wanna point out the the women’s netball team is undefeated in 19 straight internationals not 13. But hey, I was stereotyped to not know this all because I’m a male, If this was about a female not knowing something because she’s a female it be called sexiest the author would have feminazis all over the world blowing up at them. Women say they want equality but really they want to be the “dominant” sex.

  5. The netball girls have won 13 in a row this year and 19 in a row overall… don’t call people ignorant if you can’t even get your own facts right.

  6. “..if you hate netball, you must also hate your mothers, wives, girlfriends and daughters.”

    I quite like netball, but is there any thought for perhaps some men simply don’t enjoy the game? I dislike basketball, that doesn’t mean I hate people who are 210cm tall.


    I watch my wife play football on weekends, I always enjoy it; but you nailed an important point, women are playing (traditional) men’s sports. You can’t seriously ask the question as to why male audiences support the male sides, they are faster, stronger, more aggressive and usually (due to funding and experience), more skilled.

    Professional female tennis players are still playing two sets less than the men in Opens; they have equal prize money now, and similar levels of interest from the public, but they simply aren’t being asked to do the same job. That is either because the standard would drop due to lower stamina levels, or a lack of self belief. I find it irritating that a women’s Tennis Open final can be over in 32minutes (Steffi Graf – French Open). The product is not the same.

    Women have their own tees in Golf – another concession, and there are other examples of minimising an existing sport, effectively making it easier; that is not what sports viewers want to witness. Your suggestion to dunk and have three-point scores in netball? It’s called basketball, and women play that too, only more slowly and less spectacularly.

    You mentioned it yourself, why are women playing men’s sports; why don’t they create their own? Unfortunately we know we can’t put them on the same field together, it would be uncompetitive and would therefore expose the reason people prefer the male product – it is superior as a viewing spectacle. It is not the male gender’s fault that they can run 100m almost a second faster than their female counterparts, or hit a six, or dunk from the free point line, or hit onto the green from a greater distance, it isn’t our fault, and you can’t fault viewing audience’s desire to watch the greater feat.

    I don’t see packed stadiums of women supporting women’s sports, again, I am fond of netball, great game, and it is well supported, but you don’t see swathes of women at women’s cricket matches do you? If women don’t support their own sides, why do you expect the men to? I am a sports nut, no female friend of mine has ever asked me to come to an event, none attend themselves – and I have a plethora of sporty female mates, but they aren’t at their gender’s events. The media doesn’t report on it, because there is no interest, women aren’t asking for it.

    You cannot honestly tell me that if 50%+ of the population (females) were reading the sports column, the money hungry media wouldn’t print more articles? They wouldn’t be able to ignore it so easily if there was an existing market, money talks and thus far the interest isn’t great enough – if every woman read articles about netball to the same level men do about AFL or NRL, they would be on the back page an equal amount, but they aren’t reading the articles at the same levels are they? They are reading sections of the newspaper marketed to them, which, whether sexist or not, is generated by interest and revenue.

    I am a feminist believe it or not, I absolutely believe in equality in everything, including sports (public funding and development as well as the need for women to play 5 sets), but I don’t believe the fault lies at the foot of mankind the way you depict it; the fact men have infiltrated women’s sports can be interpreted positively if you allow it to be; we are trying to show our interest, not oppress it!

    The onus is on women to get behind their own sporting sides; fill the seats, attract the sponsors, create the hype, get the public’s attention. Not point at the men and claim they are oppressive.


    By the by, some of us would notice the pitch is shorter and the field smaller; I think you may have forgotten which gender has superior spatial vision. (Women are superior in a myriad of ways, let us have our little evolutionary advantage)


  7. Virtually all of whatever you articulate is astonishingly appropriate and it makes me ponder the reason why I hadn’t looked at this with this light previously. Your article really did switch the light on for me as far as this particular subject goes. But there is one particular factor I am not too comfy with and whilst I try to reconcile that with the central theme of the issue, let me observe just what all the rest of your readers have to say.Very well done.


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