Mixed messages: AFL talks respect for women but silent on Buddy's sexist tees

Last week we wrote about a tshirt brand, Nena and Pasadena. Nena and Pasadena objectify and degrade women on tshirts and market these items to teenage boys. Collective Shout supporters have been contacting Nena and Pasadena and the retailers that stock the brand. You can read the article and comments including Nena and Pasadena's dismissive responses here.

We discovered that one of the designers and the model for Nena and Pasadena is AFL player, Lance 'Buddy' Franklin. Buddy Franklin is pictured all over the Nena and Pasadena website, proudly modelling these shirts. This raises some important questions about the effectiveness of the AFL's respect and responsibility policy supposedly designed to develop player's respect for women.

In the AFL's own words:

The Respect and Responsibility Policy represents the Australian Football League’s commitment to addressing violence against women and to work towards creating safe, supportive and inclusive environments for women and girls across the football industry as well as the broader community. (bold ours)

So when one of the AFL's star players starts producing this:


We have to question whether Buddy Franklin and the AFL have a grasp of what 'respect' and 'responsibility' really means.

Collective Shout supporters have been contacting the AFL about the inconsistency between the respect and responsibility policy and objectification. The AFL have chosen to ignore these concerns. One of our supporters has received a one line response from the AFL.

Approach the company who produces the t-shirts, they have no association with the Australian Football League.

The AFL have not addressed the substance of the complaint. When the AFL ignores Buddy Franklin's participation with a brand that objectifies women and contributes to pornographic images plastering the public space, they do not demonstrate 'commitment to addressing violence against women and working towards safe, supportive environments across the football industry and the broader community.'

As Jean Kilbourne said in her award winning documentary, Killing us softly 4, objectification creates the climate in which there is widespread increasing violence against women. Turning a human being into a thing, is almost always the first step in justifying violence against them.

Anti sexual violence campaigner Nina Funnell, who trains other elite sporting codes on their attitudes towards women, sex and consent spoke about inconsistent messaging and the impact of these shirts in Melinda Tankard Reist's article, Showing respect for women the AFL way.

It is vital that sporting codes and individual athletes who undertake and commit to respectful relationship courses are consistent in their behavior. To superficially pay lip service to respecting women while simultaneously perpetuating attitudes or behaviors that either objectify or harm women is not only disingenuous and insincere, it is destructive as it undermines respect for women as a value. To send a confusing message on this topic is worse than sending no message at all.

AFL players are recognisable public figures. They get paid the big bucks for a reason and it is their responsibility to exercise due diligence in thinking through the issues and brands they endorse. Like other athletes and public figures, they must take responsibility for this.

Now a word from our supporter Caitlin, who initiated the Nena and Pasadena campaign via our community page. She has compiled some great contacts for us to continue putting pressure on the AFL. Thank you Caitlin for all your hard work.

Thanks for all of your emails and letters to Nena and Pasadena and the AFL. I am pretty sure that we have been causing a bit of a headache to N&P, who have since blocked those who complained via facebook from their page, and removed the offending t-shirts from their website (although not from sale).

There has been coverage on N&P shirts from Melinda Tankard Reist on the ABC Drum Unleashed website and also Madison magazine. MTR was also interviewed on the radio last week, (listen here) and my interview was aired on the 23rd, along with some additional feedback from a psychologist from Women’s Health Victoria, who spoke about the impact of such images on women and mental health. (http://syn.org)

Please continue sending your excellent letters to the AFL. The more publicity this issue gets, the more pressure on them to take some kind of action. I have included some contacts below, otherwise Paul on CS website comments has suggested writing letters to the individual AFL player’s clubs.  You may also consider sharing some of the articles I mentioned above on your facebook pages or twitter. 

Contact the AFL:

Andrew Demetriou, CEO of the AFL [email protected]

The AFL Players Association (chief is Matt Finnis) [email protected] Ph: 03 9926 1344

Call Ian Prendergast, lawyer and ex-Carlton player who is at the head of the board investigating some other questionable AFL player behaviour
(03) 9926 1343

Or the original AFL link provided, www.afl.com.au if you haven’t emailed them already. You need to go to the home page, scroll down on the right hand side to AFL Links where you will find Contact us.

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