High rates of violence against women occur in cultures where men think they are superior to women. In these cultures you will see and hear sexist jokes, excuses that try to get violent men off the hook, lame attempts to justify violence, sexual harassment and women missing out on the same opportunities as men - because of their gender.  

Marcus Bontempelli meme

We know it has to stop. While it can sometimes seem intimidating to stand up for what’s right in male-dominated environments, such as sporting clubs, chances are the people around you feel the same way.

"I think the real courage is in saying, 'No'. If you hear it, not just discounting it, actually having the bravery to say 'No, that's not ok – that's unacceptable behaviour, and I won't stand for it'." AFL player, Patrick Dangerfield.

If you do you find yourself in a situation where sexism, harassment or disrespect for women is occurring, there are ways to take action – without coming across like ‘a hero’. Keep some of these ‘sexism come-backs’ up your sleeve, and be the better man. 

  1. “Come on, mate, you’re better than that!”
  2. “What if someone said that about your mum, sister or girlfriend?”
  3. “Comments like that aren’t making you any friends – especially not female ones.” 
  4. “Yeah, that’s funny …oh wait a minute, no it’s 2015!”
  5. “You say stuff like that and wonder why there are no women hanging out here?”
  6. “Not smart, not funny, just lame.”
  7. “I don’t think we’d agree with that, would we guys?”
  8. “Why would you say that?”
  9. “I know it’s a joke, but it’s just not funny.”
  10. “Think about what you just said”

Maybe you’re not ready to say anything. Well, the old ‘actions speak louder than words’ technique can work too: Don’t say a word, don’t laugh, don’t smile – just turn away, walk off, look down or shake your head. When someone makes a stupid comment, not giving any response sends a better message than a half-hearted smile or laugh.  

“When you look at the stats it’s not something that gets spoken about enough because it’s such an alarming thing in society.”  – AFL player, Shaun Burgoyne.

If you don’t feel comfortable enough at the time, there’s plenty you can do after the event. Bring it up with other mates and decide whether you want to take it further. Let the coach or management know what’s going on and leave it with them to sort out. Have a quiet chat with the guy afterwards, so you don’t embarrass him in front of others (‘Hey, that joke you told earlier? It’s not on’). Check in to see if the person who the joke or comment was directed at is ok. Let them know there are others around who don’t rate this kind of behaviour.

These small acts may not sound like much, but they are the vital 1-percenters that break down cultures of violence and aggression towards women. If you speak up and challenge sexist comments then you will be making a difference. You are helping to stop a culture that disrespects women and tolerates violence against women. It’s up to the strong to stamp out these ugly behaviours. It’s up to you.