By Gay Mackie
Through the eyes of Cricket Australia, a man can resign and keep his job, but a woman cannot have control of her own body.
This afternoon, Australian men’s Test captain Tim Paine stood down over a “sexting” scandal, which involved the cricketer sending a picture of his penis (amongst other things) to a female colleague in 2017. In a press release, Cricket Australia chairman Richard Freudenstein said: “The Board has accepted Tim’s resignation and will now work through a process with the National Selection Panel of identifying and appointing a new captain.”
Mr Freudenstein added: “While the Board acknowledges an investigation cleared Tim of any breach of the code of conduct regarding this matter some years ago, we respect his decision (to resign). Cricket Australia does not condone this type of language or behaviour. Despite the mistake he made, Tim has been an exceptional leader since his appointment and the Board thanks him for his distinguished service.”
Here’s the kicker, per Freudenstein, “Tim will continue to be available for selection in the Test team through the Ashes summer.”
While the relationship seemed to be consensual, we’re again at the mercy of Cricket Australia being the arbiter of right and wrong, and indeed, leaving them to dole out the punishment. They’ve posted some questionable form in this regard. In 2018, the same body dismissed an employee for actively campaigning for abortion reform, prompting the nation to define what we expect of our institutions.
Meet Angela Williamson. One of the first women forced to the mainland to access an abortion is Tasmania after the closure of the state’s only clinic. Now, she’s been sacked by @CricketAust for saying that shouldn’t be happening in 2018 https://t.co/stzo5CxDxa
— Samantha Maiden (@samanthamaiden) July 29, 2018
Six months earlier, there were more headlines, as the problem was a square of sandpaper. The manipulation of a ball was rocketed to a fiasco, as we angrily called for heads to be lopped, as, among other things, they set a poor example for our children. Guess which issue garnered more attention?
Steve Smith has cheated my son and every other kid who idolises the Australian cricket team, wrties @karajung. How do I explain I expect more from him than I do from those so-called role models? https://t.co/InA3PIV3ZC
— Advertiser Opinion (@TiserOpinion) March 26, 2018
Through the prism of CA’s values, perhaps it is that a mother’s currency is irrelevant. A woman is only worthy of dismissal, but a man is able to keep their job. While their body is theirs, of course, it also exists as evidence that can be used against them. It’s worth noting that both Steve Smith and Tim Paine, despite the apologies and the shame they feel, managed to keep their jobs. Bitterly, the former may replace the latter, despite the disgrace they’ve both earned. What we have here, however, is an institutional problem.
According to Fairfax, Angela Williamson was “exposed” after a senior member of the Tasmanian government disclosed her abortion to the administrators of Cricket Australia’s regional branch, Cricket Tasmania. Sticking to objective facts, Williamson had to travel to Melbourne as the only clinic in the entirety of the state closed. Subjectively speaking, how did this nameless figure know, why did that factor into the decision, and how did empathy, or common logic not enter into the decision?
Surely it had to pass through many hands before it was rubber-stamped. While Williamson eventually settled out of court, it was only after she threatened to take the dismissal to the High Court. I ask you, what is the difference between a handful of tweets and a handful of texts?
This is the issue, we’re not dealing with one person, we’re dealing with a culture. Clearly 1951 rolls on down the corridors of Cricket Australia, a halcyon place where a woman’s place is out the door.
In the world of Cricket Australia, campaigning for women's health (and expressing frustrating about bad government decisions) is a fireable offence. Cheating in a test match, however, is not.
— Erin Riley (@erinrileyau) July 29, 2018
This article was originally published on The Big Smoke.
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