What happens when trolls attack a photo of a woman at work, demonstrating the heights of her extraordinary athleticism and talent?
Well if you’re part of the team running Channel 7’s AFL coverage, you remove the photo and issue a statement saying that you have “removed the image and the comments” as a consequence of it attracting “inappropriate and offensive” remarks.
And if you are Tayla Harris, the Carlton Blues AFLW player featured in the photograph, then you post the photo yourself. Issuing a statement to those who can’t cope: “Here’s a pic of me at work… think about this before your derogatory comments, animals.”
Here’s a pic of me at work… think about this before your derogatory comments, animals. pic.twitter.com/68aBVVbTTj
— Tayla Harris (@taylaharriss) March 19, 2019
By 11:22pm Tuesday night, after Harris’ tweet had been shared thousands of times and #StandWithTayla and #GoTaylaGo had trended on social media, 7AFL published the photo again with an apology. “We’re sorry. Removing the photo sent the wrong message.
“Many of the comments made on the post were reprehensible & we’ll work harder to ban trolls from our pages.”
There are hundreds of comments on the new Facebook post celebrating the photo, and giving reason to hope (including some advice to Channel 7 on how to really deal with trolls).
All of that came after the @7AFL Twitter account came under by some of Australia’s most influential people in sport, including Sam Kerr.
THE PROBLEM WAS NOT THE PHOTO https://t.co/a48ueZgPcM
— Sam Kerr (@samkerr1) March 19, 2019
7AFL has promised to ban trolls from is pages. It’s got a lot of work to do. And that’s even with the limited number of photographs of female players that actually get published.
The photo was taken by Michael Willson, for AFL Media, during the first two minutes of the AFLW’s Pride Game between the Western Bulldogs and Carlton, as Harris scored the first goal of game. It was captioned as the “Photo of the Year” on the 7AFL Facebook page on Monday, attracting numerous comments and praise — but also, as what continues to happen on sporting pages, plenty of sexist and disgusting remarks. A day later the entire post and photo was, with the short statement from Channel 7 on why.
We have a long way to go in Australia when it comes to truly celebrating women’s sport, as the level of trolling of AFLW players proves. But better moderating comments and protecting players from misogyny and hateful comments would be an excellent start — instead of simply removing player images, and/or expecting players to manage such abuse themselves.
Check out the Incels of AFLW pages Facebook, which is documenting just a small portion of the trolling that is occurring.
When I left the @AFL Commission, I was presented with this magnificent image of @taylaharriss to mark how far we had come in celebrating the women athletes of @aflwomens It was the perfect gift, remains in pride of place & is admired by all who see it #aflw #afl #womeninsport pic.twitter.com/Oo8eAlSQh1
— sam mostyn (@sammostyn) March 19, 2019
This feels like a very big moment. Iconic & historic. Athletes from multiple sports are already emerging to say they #StandWithTayla against the sexist comments she’s endured in her workplace. At this rate this image will be immortalised in a statue at the G by sundown tomorrow. https://t.co/u5ugEHTpN8
— A/Prof Kate Seear (@Kate_Seear) March 19, 2019
Take this, trolls 👇🏼 pic.twitter.com/dbCYvVoFET
— Michael Willson (@MichaelCWillson) March 19, 2019
— PatriciaKarvelas (@PatsKarvelas) March 19, 2019
Of all the possible responses to the online denigration women face on a daily basis online, removing evidence of their contributions/skills/strength should be last on that list. I hope photos of @taylaharriss in full flight now flood our social media platforms. #taylaharris https://t.co/T1OV8ZfQX5
— Dr Kirstin Ferguson (@kirstinferguson) March 19, 2019