An opinion piece in The Sydney Morning Herald compared the recent Australian cricket ball tampering scandal to the #MeToo Movement. The article titled, ‘This is cricket’s #MeToo moment: a rare opportunity for complete purge’, is being criticised for its misplaced comparison. The article also went on to say that “Steve Smith is no more the only ball tamperer than Harvey Weinstein was the only sexual harasser”.
While this article is both unfair to women and Steve Smith, it also raises questions on the use of #MeToo as a phrase
I understand that cricket is nothing short of a religion for its ardent followers. Numerous people across continents invest emotionally in this sport. No wonder cricket players (read male) enjoy the stardom. This is especially true in countries like India and Australia, where our cricket teams are a matter of national pride.
Thus, the worst way to break any cricket fan’s heart is to cheat in the “gentleman’s game”
So when a handful of senior Australian cricket players orchestrated ball tampering amidst a test match, which was caught on camera, it shattered the fans.
Now we have to understand that team Australia does not have a squeaky-clean image in the cricketing world. The team is notorious for practices like sledging and unruly behaviour both on and off field. Also, this incident was luckily caught in camera. Who knows how many other times Australian cricketers have got away with it?
The ball tampering incident can indeed be a tipping point for Australian cricket — the cost being national pride. Cricket Australia is looking at reforms at the grassroots level. Maybe this is the thought which prompted the Sydney Morning Herald writer to equate ball tampering to #MeToo. But this comparison trivialises the issue of sexual harassment.
Stop using #MeToo movement for casual references
No matter how disgraced and deceived cricket fans are feeling right now, they are certainly not going through what survivors of sexual harassment do
We are talking about indecent touching, molestation, sexual abuse, rape and many more complex issues here. These concern the well-being of nearly half the global population.
It does come across as a bit shoddy, to use a moment which helped women come together to counter sexual oppression, to a couple of grown-up men tampering with a cricket ball to affect its motion, because they want to win.
People must stop using #MeToo as a reference to give strength to issues which are no close to gravity as sexual harassment. It takes away from the persistence of so many women, who worked diligently to keep the conversation about harassment ticking. Plus, it takes away from all those survivors who battle years of shame, depression and fear, to come forward and bring down lascivious men drunk on money and power. It is also unfair to compare players like Steve Smith to sexual offenders. Their crime is certainly not as big as robbing a woman of her dignity.
Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are author’s own.