Campo’s tweet – why women also need to respect themselves

Since David Campese’s little slip up earlier this week there has been a lot of chat about the treatment of women in sporting circles. So I thought I would have my bit to say.

Let me start by making certain things very clear:

  1. I do not condone or agree with what Campo said. I even had a go at him about it.
  2. I have actually met Campo and found him nothing but respectful. Even had a discussion about rugby with him. (And yes I did disagree with him.)

I have spent a lot of my life in male dominated society. I grew up on a cattle property. I studied agriculture at university. Spent all of my working life in road construction, medical and agricultural circles. As a result of this I have developed a particularly thick skin and what is apparently an interesting view on how women are treated.

One of the things that annoyed me about the whole situation was that the old ‘He’s a rugby player. None of them respect women.’ got a run. Here I have to start defending rugby players, past and present.

Over the years that I have been involved in rugby, I have meet a lot of players from all levels of the game. The majority have been respectful to me and if they haven’t I have called them on it. I would say that I have met many more men outside of the game who are disrespectful then from within. (That is possibly because I have meet more men outside of the code, but statistics can be used to prove anything). My point is that the minority spoil it for the majority and we all need to keep a level head when these types of discussions are happening.

Now it is time to put the feminist movement back a century or so. So I have been told anyway.

If there is one thing that ticks me off more than a bloke treating women badly, it is women immediately jumping to the ‘You only said/did that cause I am a woman’ conclusion when they are criticised, questioned or treated in a particular way. When are woman going to take responsibility for how they are treated and stand up for themselves?

In August I went to Auckland for the Bledisloe Cup game at Eden Park. I ended the night in a hotel bar with an ex Wallaby, an ex All Black, a commentator and a few other people. As pretty ‘normal’ for a rugby gathering there were very few women. In fact, I was the only one out of about ten people at 3 am.

Well, the conversation turned a little crude and as it progressed I got a few looks from some of the group, the All Black even stopped the conversation at one stage and apologised. My reply – “Thanks for that. I am sure I can walk away if it gets too bad.” You see, I take responsibility for my actions.

Why did I stick around? Well, I have this interest in observing people in different situations and this was an opportunity to observe these particular people. During this part of the conversation I made an observation to the group.

“I don’t know who I am most surprised by. You guys for the lack of respect you have for the women in that situation or the women for the obvious lack of respect they have for themselves.”

This actually made them all stop. In an attempt to lighten the mood one of the group said: “So you’re telling me that you wouldn’t sleep with these two?” (meaning the ex players). Actually, no. Why? – ex All Black is married (sorry I just don’t go there), ex Wallaby will need to wine and dine me a little and treat me with some respect first. As do all men who would like to have a go.

So what issue do I have with the women who were mentioned in this conversation? Well, if they do not respect themselves how on earth do they expect anyone else to respect them. A cliché I know but an oh so true one. Please, I am not saying that all women are culpable in the way they are treated by men all the time, but attitude is an interesting thing and it is generally not changed without external influence.

I mentioned before that if I get treated in a way that I feel is not appropriate, be it a current Wallaby player, an ex Wallaby player or the unit manager down the road, male or female, I will call that person on it. Make my opinion known. Yes, I realise that some people feel that they can’t, but that is why I make sure that I do. I can stick up for myself and others in an attempt to improve the way we are ALL (male and female) treated by others. It needs to be “Respect all people”, not “You have to respect women”.

In most cases, in and outside of rugby, you will be treated how you portray yourself. If you portray yourself as suppliant you will generally be treated that way. Stand-up for yourself and argue your point reasonably and cognitively you will be respected. That is my personal experience.

There have been many times where I have called rugby players for something they have said or done. These have even included some now (and then) high profile gentlemen. What has happened? On all bar one occasion I have received an apology and have then usually gone on to have a perfectly reasonable conversation as to why I thought the incident was inappropriately handled. It just takes people being told that what they are doing or saying is inappropriate. In some cases it was even about how men were treating other men!

Yes, Campo shouldn’t have tweeted what he did. If he wanted to question Gegorgina’s credentials as a journalist then he should have done that without asking why a ‘girl’ was reporting on rugby. My bigger concern is that he thinks Grumbles Growden was a great journalist. But guess what? That is a matter of opinion on which we are going to politely differ.

I would also like to thank Campo for apologising. There are a lot of people out there who find it difficult to admit when they have stuffed up and accept the consequences.

Oh, and the one occasion. Well, he really doesn’t matter does he? What was his name anyway…





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  1. 1

    Great article Steph!

    The biggest problem I had with what Campo said was that it was hypocritical in the extreme. When former players question someone’s ability to do a job based on their lack of hands-on experience, they ignore the number of times that they, themselves, tweet about things they don’t have personal experience in, or they “forget” what they did when they played. As far as I’m concerned, former athletes can either accept that you don’t have to have “played the game at the highest level” to have a valid opinion; or they can shut up about every single thing they don’t have personal experience in.

    Also, note that there are THREE SMH journos on tour and writing for Rugby Heaven and they’re all writing similar things, and yet he spotlit Georgina Robinson.

    • 2

      And I agreed with you. I was reply to some comments that were made that I believe took the discussion somewhere it shouldn’t have gone & 140 characters was just not enough.

  2. 3

    “or the women for the obvious lack of respect they have for themselves.”

    I’m sorry, the women you are referring to who slept with the ex-players, why do you assume they don’t have respect for themselves? I would assume they willingly chose, enjoyed themselves, and had no regrets. I really don’t understand where not having respect for themselves fits in, unless they *knew* for a fact that the players would trash talk them afterwards (with names) and they weren’t ok with that. Then it would be an error of judgement. Otherwise…. not. Unless there is more to the story than what you have implied.

    Anyway, it’s nice that men usually apologise to you after making inappropriate remarks. But shouldn’t they not occur in the first place? This is where many sporting cultures fall down.

    I am not trying to have a go at you but feel that there is not much point to this piece as you are mainly writing about women taking responsibility for how they are treated, yet this has little bearing on Georgina Robinson as she did not make a fuss about it, she just ignored the silly fool.

    • 4

      Yes there is more to the story. If I was to repeat it verbatim it would take more room then what I did here. Some parts of the conversation were quite disgusting, and yes I did point that out at the time. But as I said above I had my reasons for staying & listening. I could have, and perhaps should have walked away. I could have also named said players, and made a song and dance about the incident long before now. But I respect the context in which the discussion took place and this is as much as I want to say about it.

      I guess my point is that women can’t have it both ways. They can’t claim ‘woe is me I am treated this way just because I am a woman’, and then put themselves in the position that, in all likelyhood, they will be treated with disrespect. This is not just sexually or physically. This is in every aspect of their lives.

      If women wish to sleep with these boys/men I don’t have an issue. I do have an issue when their behaviour reflects poorly on other women leading to these boys assuming that all women are just there for one thing so they can do what they want. In the extreme this can escalate to incidents that we have all seen in the press. I am not and will not excuse abuse of women. I am trying to point out that situations can become very complex and both sides need to consider consequences & outcomes. Having said that, my thick skin probably does women the same disservice, but I like to think that I am mature enough to recognise the situations where this has/does happen and address it.

      Yes it is good that I get the appology, and I hope that getting this appology & talking about why it was required one on one will mean that the next time that individual thinks about making an inappropiate remark then they take a split second to think about the consequences. Yes it would be nice if they did not happen at all, but we both know that is never going to happen.

      Why? The main reason is that what you find offensive or inappropiate I may not. Also the ‘training’ provided in a room with a bunch of testostrone fueled boys is not going to be effective without reinforcement in the real world. It is here that the women who have repeated contact with the players have a responsibility to continue & reinforce that training. And yes I do call them ‘boys’, because in most cases they are not fully mature when this training is done.

      Yes, this article is not specifically about the ‘incident’ and yes Georgina did handle it very well. But others had taken the commentary to a place that I felt was unfair. Not only to Campo but to all other players and ex players. I was infact called ‘the blokes feminist’ because I was putting this ‘alternate’ point of view. I am still working out if I should be offended at that. :-/

      I need also to make one more thing abundantly clear to you & others who made read this and think that I do not understand how abused women feel. You do not know my life story and do not judge until you do.

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