Insights into litigation, sports law, media and legal culture

AFL Stripper wins media jackpot, rest of us look like idiots

This post explores media coverage of Heather McCartney, the now infamous woman who took off her clothes in a corporate box after the Australian Football League grand final last weekend. As you do.

Yesterday, the co-presenters on a sports radio station had a rather breathless exchange about Heather McCartney’s decision to strip her clothes off in a corporate box at last weekend’s AFL Grand Final.

One presenter said he had no problem with strippers at a Grand Final. His colleague sounded uncomfortable about where this was going. He even protested that some people like to go to the footy, to watch the footy.

Sure enough, the comments morphed into a ‘blokes have no problems with strippers at the footy, the footy club or the shed out the back’ kind of vibe.

This led to an involuntary reaction from Yours Truly.  It involved a scrunching of the face and a prolonged “Ewww”…!  Next, one hand flung itself to the dial and the soothing sounds of 70s soft rock soon filled the car. Relief.

Meanwhile, tones of faux outrage took over the Herald Sun. In “Grand Final strip: Tenant denies hiring stripper to perform” (29 Sept edition), an investigation into the “scandal” was reported, and the article was replete with quoted criticism of the incident which was described as “a disgrace” and “completely unacceptable”. Accompanying the article were eight photographs of Heather McCartney in various stages of undress, with pixilation for those more modestly inclined.

The most interesting commentary came from Heather herself: “It was a bet: I said if Hawthorn win, I’m getting naked. They won, and I got naked.”

Her Magistrates’ Court commitments discharged, Heather had more to say when she appeared on the Triple M breakfast show (fully clothed, with a gleaming smile): “It was a silly thing to do I guess and I can see how it’s been blown out of proportion, but I had a great time.”

Was Heather paid or not? From Heather’s perspective, who cares? She was the one who took her clothes off. She is probably being offered the front cover of a men’s magazine as we speak.

So for Heather, things are fine. The rest of us look like morons.

To the radio presenter: Mate, don’t talk about strippers like they are things. It’s gross.

This kind of language is objectification.

You don’t have to read Playboy for the articles. But strippers have names. They’re not “stuff” simply there to help you get your jollies and bond with your Club mates over slabs of beer. Try and create a relationship of respect by standing in the shoes of the people who take their kit off for you. And then if you want to discuss it on-air, examine the issue from a few angles.

As for the faux outrage, this sort of article just sent mixed messages. There likely is a serious story about whether tenants of a corporate box did / did not offer Heather double pay to ‘nude up’. Some of the comments critical of a “blokey culture” offered insights worth exploring.   But including so many gratuitous flesh shots as part of the story just served to undermine it.

Stripping at the football is a niche sport and gender neutral. So why not treat it that way?

Betting markets, alive to Heather’s likely “naked ambition” have a sense of humour about it, and an eye to their own marketing opportunity.

Offering odds on “where will Heather strip next?”, the NRL Grand Final is favoured at $4 to 1. A One Direction Concert is in the more optimistic category at $21.

We don’t condone this type of thing, but she probably has the guy who streaked at the NRL State Of Origin last year covered by a fair way, so don’t be surprised if she nudes up this weekend,” said sportsbet.com.au’s Shaun Anderson.

In other words, laugh ‘with’ not ‘at’, avoid sounding outraged if you are not, and when you talk about women, think about whether you want people talking about your friend or sister that way.

 

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