South African Sportswoman, You’re On Your Own By Cheryl Roberts

30 May

It was black consciousness thinker and writer Steve Biko who said ‘Black man you on your own’ in response to the oppression of black people (not only black men) in South Africa. Today I’m saying and writing ‘South African sportswoman, You On Your Own’.

Don’t disagree with me when I say South Africa’s sports network is littered with gender inequalities. Who is speaking up and calling out this gender discrimination that exists across the sports paradigm, across all sports?

To date, there exists no organised voice within South African sport challenging the horrendous unequal deal given to women in sport, the handouts they receive here and there, now and again from ‘tight budgets’, the unequal ‘pay’ they have to humbly accept.

Most women in sport and sportswomen in South Africa are aware of their ‘inferior to men’ status, ‘secondary position, under the sportsmen’; this given to them by the male hegemonic control of sport. Some women in sport do talk out about male domination of sport sometimes, here and there and individually or personally but not as a power group confronting gender discrimination and inequalities.

And of course, given their power accorded and invested in themselves to continue their domination of the sports network and decision-making processes affecting women in sport, men in sport continue to advance men in sport and give a little here and there to women in sport.

So who is calling out gender discrimination in SA sport and spearheading the advancement of women and girls in sport? It’s not an organised voice, that’s men-led! So who are the women in sport relying on and waiting for to speak on their behalf? Surely they can’t be waiting for men players and men officials to do this?

Let’s take something out of Steve Biko’s thinking! Steve Biko advanced thoughts that said white people as the oppressor could not liberate black people, the oppressed. This liberation had to be led by and spearheaded by the oppressed themselves and that was the black oppressed.

In sport, too sportswomen are discriminated against because of their gender and also because of their sexuality, class and colour. It’s the sportswomen who must liberate women in sport!

Very few men in sport speak out about the shabby handouts given to sportswomen in SA sport. They also don’t challenge their patriarchal domination of the SA sports network. And they just don’t speak out against abuse, rape, assault of women by men in sport. Some men publicly give their viewpoints like former international cricketer Boeta Dippenaar who recently wrote about how he thinks women cricketers just don’t have the same commercial appeal as men cricketers for them to be given equal pay to men cricketers as being proposed by Cricket South Africa. This male cricketer isn’t the only man who thinks like this. Most of them in media, marketing, sports events, sponsorship also do have this thinking.

Women in sport have got to shift gears, ignite their consciousness, embrace activism and fight head on this male control of sport that binds women in sport to decisions made by men on behalf of women in sport.

In most sports, the sportswomen are demanding national pro leagues for women, more international participation, increased funding for women in sport, more women officials and coaches. And all sports respond about there being no money and no budget to do all this for the women in sport. But there’s always money for the sportsmen, especially in the corporate sports such as rugby, football, cricket, golf.

Women in sport in South Africa must not think they don’t have a voice. They can speak out and challenge! If they wait and wait on men officials to decide how to develop women in sport, then they are going to have to wait very, very long because men officials in SA sport are not feminists, nor gender activists. They are proponents of preserving male hegemony in sport and this doesn’t include giving power to sportswomen and women in sport.

Do you see why I say South African sportswomen, you are on your own?

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

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