Criticized for Following the Rules? AFLW picture Controversy

By Lachlan

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Wilson, Michael. Tayla Harris. Melbourne, 17 Mar. 2019.

“About an inch away from seeing the full ham sandwich.” This was just one of the derogatory comments made towards superstar athlete, Tayla Harris, on the photo above. The controversy arose via criticism claiming that too much of her crotch is showing. This led to talks about equality throughout dual gender sports.

Tayla Harris, a 21-year-old female, is a professional athlete for Carlton in the AFLW  (Australian Football League Women’s). As an athletic individual, it’s her job to give her absolute all towards the sport. Recently, controversy arose surrounding pictures taken of female athletes throughout the league. The picture above captures the complete athleticism of Harris, however, it received backlash from bogan Australians who call themselves “fans” of the sport. Unsure of what to do, the AFL Instagram account took down the photo, causing confusion as to whether or not the AFL agrees with the fans, or if they are simply tired of the hate.

This incident sparked controversy throughout Australia about lack of equality, not only in the AFL, but sports, globally. The situation could’ve been approached in countless different ways and would’ve stopped questioning about gender equality towards the league itself.

Harris, appalled by the hate, decided to have her own hit towards the Australian’s and tweeted this below:

Screen Shot 2019-05-13 at 1.42.47 PMHate comments circle the internet worldwide, with countless being posted almost every day. The stats say that one in every five people is the victim of a hate comment. This impacts people worldwide, playing a big factor in conversations about sexism, especially throughout sports. Many female athletes come across criticism from their “fans”. It then impacts the female individuals who aspire to become professional athletes in the future.  

Being only the third season of AFLW, it’s crazy to see all the backlash that is already being given. If you’re a so-called “fan” of the AFL/AFLW, you wouldn’t simply give backlash towards athletes of different genders. Derogatory comments could be what changes the mind of a young woman who are aspiring to become a female athlete. These comments quickly change the once bright dreams into thoughts derived from the hate they see online. It changes the impact the sport has on someone’s life.

Shortly after Harris’ posted her tweet, the AFL account responded quickly, assuring their intentions:

Screen Shot 2019-05-13 at 1.42.56 PMThis comment helps to bring light to the controversy. They have resolved the problems that occurred in the comments, making fans of both the AFL and AFLW feel more at ease. There are countless problems circling sexism throughout the world, such as the incident above, which plays a major role in hate speech and derogatory comments. The presence of sexism needs to be stopped, beginning with the treatment of athletes. If popular players taking a stance online, or produced statements against sexism, this will help fans understand the severity and impact of sexism throughout sports.

There has also been discussion about this image becoming the new face of the league itself. Referring to the image at the top, individuals have made various mockups of the new AFLW logo, and the league is on board. With the competition soon to implement this new logo, it will show the stance the league has against sexism.

Similar to racism, sexism is evident all over the world. Not only through sports, but throughout the workplace. It is known that for every $1 a male receives, a female earns $.80, for the exact same job. This highlights the point that sexism shouldn’t even need to be discussed. It simply shouldn’t exist. By eliminating sexism, you are ensuring an equal world and the recognition that both genders deserve.  

Although it sounds easy to completely “eliminate” sexism discussions online and in public, it is much harder than it seems. Sexism dates back to the 15th century, so people all over the globe need to come together to change what is right. How will you take your stance?


Works Cited:

  1. Wilson, Michael. Tayla Harris. Melbourne, 17 March 2019.
  2. “Gender Pay Gap Ratios, Stats and Infographics 2019.” PayScale. <;.
  3. “11 Facts About CyberBullying.” <;.
  4. Harris, Tayla. “Here’s a pic of me at work… think about this before your derogatory comments, animals.” Twitter. 19 Mar. 2019. Tayla Harris. <;.
  5. Luff, Bryce. “Could Tayla Harris be worked into new league logo?” The West Australian. 20 Mar. 2019. The West Australian. <;.