This WAG Nation show simply does not commute
Oh, OK. Maybe commutation tests (which come from the arcane domain of semiotics) aren’t that simple. But they are useful when it comes to understanding why having a special word for the wives and girlfriends of elite sportsmen is so damn objectionable.
Commutation tests are a thought experiment which involve swapping one part of a text for another and then dwelling philosophically (preferably positioned like Rodin’s thinker) on the significance of any resulting changes in meaning .
In this case, imagine that the reality fest which premiered on Foxtel last night was not WAG Nation but HAMMS Hamlet – an access-all-areas perve on the ravishing megaverse of the Husbands and Manly Main Squeezes of female sports stars.
“HAMMS Hamlet… takes a voyeuristic look into the lives of… five glamorous men as they juggle life and love with a fast-paced social calendar,” the show’s publicity blurb would read post commutation switch-a-roo.
“But behind all the glitz and glamour, these men cope with the daily pressures of maintaining a successful relationship… and the highs and lows of supporting women’s professional sporting careers.”
Anything sound a little odd? A little patronising, maybe? Turning the tables like this helps expose our deep gender biases when it comes to talking about – and consequently treating – women and men.
Certainly I can’t recall the last time the trophy male partner of a netballer was vilified for turning up on a red carpet in clobber showing too much of his intimate bulges.
“He’s sending the wrong message!” “He looks like a slut on heat!” “He’s inciting synchronised swimmers to rape young male fans!” These are all versions of the real life bile routinely spewed at the female partners of sportsmen; vitriol that sounds bizarre when directed at men.
If only we could dismiss the whole WAGs thing as a wacky anachronism on par with cave dudes dragging their mates round by their ponytails, or Mad Men-style hirers demanding that typists include their pointy bra sizes in their CVs.
But the term has only been in common usage since 2006 which means it’s not a bizarrely sexist remnant from another age so much as a staggeringly chauvinist characteristic of right now.
Unfortunately the offensive habit of defining women primarily in terms of their relationship to men keeps popping its ugly head up, no matter how many times we try to Whac-A-Mole it back into its rightful place.
Read all about it
Up to the minute Twitter chatter
The latest and greatest
Good morning Punchers. After four years of excellent fun and great conversation, this is the final post…
I have had some close calls, one that involved what looked to me like an AK47 pointed my way, followed…
In a world in which there are still people who subscribe to the vile notion that certain victims of sexual…