As a kid was told ‘girls shouldn’t play rugby’"

Picture this: it’s the weekend, the sun’s out and you’re with your mates about to watch your rugby team play an undefeated rival.

You’ve got great seats behind the goals — so close to the action that you smell the familiar combination of grass, sweat and Deep Heat.

Hopeful that victory is within reach, you and your fellow supporters are ready to belt out the team song.

Then suddenly, one of your fellow supporters lets down the side.

Fuming at a terrible pass, the man next to you screams loudly at the offending player: “Ya nothing but a pussy! You’re a disgrace and ya play like a girl!”

Disgusted by the comments, you look around. About half of the crowd are women and there are parents with young kids.

You make eye contact with a few people in silent disgust, but no one says anything in response, not even you.

It’s the type of behaviour that often plays out in public and it comes in many forms.

Replace the rugby field with public transport, a schoolyard or in the company of family or friends, and you’ll see sexist and inappropriate language disguised as just “a bit of harmless banter”.

As a professional player in a traditionally male-dominated sport, I have seen and felt these kinds of attitudes and behaviours in full force.

If I had listened to every person who told me that girls shouldn’t play rugby, I would never have won an Olympic gold medal.

Although sporting organisations are working hard to stamp them out, sexist comments and actions are still thrown around liberally and displayed in every corner of our day-to-day lives.

As an ambassador with The Line, I know that these disrespectful attitudes can lead to something much more disturbing.

New research released by The Line has revealed more than one in four (27 per cent) young men said it doesn’t bother them if they’re with a group of friends and someone puts girls down by making jokes or comments about them.

These ingrained, problematic beliefs play into a society that inadvertently promotes gender inequality, which is a major driver of violence against women.

The good news is that together we can silence sexism if we all act when we see or hear it.

November 25 to December 10 marks 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence worldwide and is an opportune time for all of us to think about actions we can take, no matter how small, to challenge a culture that disempowers and disrespects women.

So, if you want to make a difference, find your voice and be more than a spectator.

Chloe Dalton is an Australian Rugby Union player, Olympic gold medallist and proud ambassador for The Line.

This piece was originally published on news.com.au.

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