South African Sport Needs National Campaign Against Gender Discrimination, Abuse, Sexism By Cheryl Roberts

19 Mar

With deep-rooted gender inequalities and discrimination, abuse, sexism and misogyny prevalent in South African sport, a national initiative to call out and challenge all these attacks on women in sport, must be undertaken immediately.

This campaign must be fierce, national, unapologetic, challenging and vehemently strong. It must be initiated and implemented across the sports network and involve all genders, all sports people inside and outside of sport.

And now that South Africa has a woman Minister of Sport, the time is no more apt and appropriate than now; for this national campaign against gender abuse and discrimination, misogyny and sexism to be initiated and led by our woman Minister of Sport.

Sport is seemingly only about participation, competition, achieving as if nothing else matters. This is how the male-dominated sports network is portrayed, especially by corporate media, corporate sponsors and sustained by male power.

Just because it’s not in the media doesn’t mean its not there. Abusers, rapists, sexists, misogynists are rife in South African sport. They have existed for decades and their abuse, rape, misogyny, sexism and blatant discrimination has continued for too long, allowing men in particular to thrive in SA sport.

This arises from society’s patriarchal domination and subsequent male hegemonic control. Sport is not separated from the goings on in society. Sport is associated with all the trappings of male power, abuse, sexism and misogyny.

This national campaign in sport against male power and control in South African sport must do nothing less than shake, disturb and disrupt the roots of men’s structural power and control.

South Africa’s successive Minister’s of Sport from both the apartheid and democratic junctures have ignored the challenging issues contesting and existing in sport. These government men in charge of sport in SA have deliberately ignored launching and sustaining campaigns that should have spoken out against gender discrimination, abuse and sexism. They know why! Because challenging their power roots and domination would have rendered them useless, weak and power-less.

In sport, officialdom-issued media statements sometimes, mentioning the negatives of gender discrimination now and then, is not enough. In fact, it doesn’t have much of an impact. Because we see how gender inequalities, sexism, male control and abuse are still around, supporting and propping up structural, deep-rooted male domination of sport.

We have called out the raw deal given to women in sport, we have challenged this male-domination of the sports network, we have been angered by abuse, sexism and misogyny.

Women in sport and sportswomen don’t want to participate in sport where discrimination is rife, abuse occurs and sexism and misogyny is very much alive. Women in sport don’t want a sports life that is male-centered, dominated and controlled. And sportswomen are not in sport to be dominated or to be victims of male abuse and sexism.

Get This! Just because abuse and sexism in SA sport is not in everyday media, doesn’t mean its not there. It also should not be accepted as if its now and then isolated cases of abuse, sexism and discrimination.

Get this! Sports girls and sportswomen, from grassroots to international participation are always potential victims,at any time, of the power and control that’s employed whenever men in sport desire to do so.

Organised action and challenge is needed to intercept and disrupt all the power and control of the SA sports network. What sport in South Africa needs is grassroots activism, involving community and clubs coupled with fierce, powerful activism and agitation from government. That’s why I’m calling for a national campaign to be initiated by and led by South Africa’s current woman Minister of Sport.

As women in sport and sportswomen we have had enough of discrimination, enough of having to support men in power and enough of sexism and misogyny. South Africa’s woman Minister of Sport can and must confront, with a national initiative, the sustained power over sportswomen’s lives, and the abuse, sexism, discrimination and misogyny that is delivered from this male control of sport. South Africa’s woman Minister of Sport has that power. Hopefully, she will use this power.

South African Sports Woman . Published by Cheryl Roberts. Published in May 2017. Published in Cape Town in South Africa - Copy

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