12 Posts of Christmas: In Defence of Mia Freedman.

In the spirit Christmas, I’ve decided to revisit some of my favourite posts of the year in the twelve days leading up to December 25th. 

You might remember back in July when Cadel Evans won the Tour de France, Mia Freedman said on the Today show that sportspeople aren’t heroes, and a shitstorm ensued. You can read the original post here.

Mia Freedman’s copped it pretty hard in the media the last couple of weeks, ever since her comments about Cadel Evans and sports stars being held up as heroes.

It’s no secret that Freedman is my idol, so I will go to bat for her til the cows come home. She’s the reason I became a writer. She’s the reason I did work experience at Cosmo. I share a lot of her views. Whether it’s just a happy coincidence, or I’ve shaped my views around hers (I started reading Cosmo at 15, a very impressionable age, so it’s more than likely the latter), I don’t know.

I’ve written about my love for Freedman, followed closely by formerGirlfriend and Cleo editor, and current Sunday Life editor, Sarah Oakes, numerous times, and how the incestuous nature of the magazine world ensures a similar writing and editing style from those who work together. Take Freedman and Zoë Foster, for example. Or Oakes and Girl with a Satchel’s Erica Bartle and Musings of an Inappropriate Woman’s Rachel Hills.

Speaking of Sunday Life, Freedman’s column last weekend solidified why she’s a woman after my own heart.

She wrote about spending time with her family, and how planning big events are always a disaster and it’s the little, “mundane moments” that are memorable.

But back to the issue at hand: sportspeople as heroes.

I agree wholeheartedly that sportsmen and women aren’t heroes. (I threw up in my mouth a little bit when Karl Stefanovic and Lisa Wilkinson stood for the national anthem after Evans won the Tour de France.) Yay, they can “swim fast”, “kick a ball with accuracy”, “run quickly” and “jump over high things”. But how does this make them heroes? It makes them superficial “heroes” or emblems of sporting events in which they did good, but not actual heroes. We can leave that title to soldiers, doctors, activists, social workers, firefighters and others who face death and social injustice to save lives and make the world a better place.

As Freedman reiterates:

“I roll my eyes every time another Australian of the Year is named and it’s a sportsperson. I cringe at the CONSTANT sycophancy and praise heaped on sportspeople and the way they are forever lauded as heroes… How does being highly physically capable make you a hero?”

I read somewhere that it is highly likely Evans will be named 2011’s Australian of the Year, so start warming up those eye sockets, Mia!

I brought this notion up with a coworker last week, who said doctors aren’t heroes just because they’re saving lives. But what about Doctors Without Borders, or doctors and nurses with the armed forces? “Well, that’s different,” he said. Why? Because they’re facing their own death whilst trying to prevent someone else’s? But sportspeople aren’t facing death (okay, sometimes they are), and their payoff is purely selfish.

Said coworker mentioned some AFL “hero” who, back in the ’70s (I think; don’t quote me on this), finished the grand final with a torn ligament and brought the premiership home. Some might call it heroism; others stupidity.

And I think the sportsperson=hero dichotomy is abhorrent, considering the extracurricular allegations levelled at some of them. Is Nick D’Arcy a hero for punching some guy and leaving him with irreparable facial damage? Are the Collingwood FC guys heroes for winning last year’s premiership, with some of them subsequently going on to allegedly sexually assault one or some groupies? How about the world class douchebag Brendan Fevola? Or Tiger Woods? O.J. Simpson? Hardly heroes.

Perhaps we should be looking to sportspeople like Glenn McGrath, who works tirelessly for his late wife’s breast cancer foundation. Or the Essendon FC, who work with schools to improve literacy. While not exactly heroes per se, at least they’re doing something other than hitting and kicking balls.

Freedman writes in a related piece:

“Sporting stars may have great physical skills but that’s all. They’re no smarter or better or nicer or more well intentioned than the average Australian. In fact, I would argue that generally (and of course this is a generalisation), they are less informed, less aware and less street smart than the average bear.

“This is because to become a great athlete, you have to spend many years from the time you are very young, refining your skills. That’s years swimming up and down a pool. Years running around a track. Years kicking a ball or hitting it with a bat.

“Years…

“I’m happy for anyone who CHOOSES to spend years of their life dedicated to their sport. Go for it. But let’s not pretend it’s a selfless or noble pursuit.

“Professional athletes do it for many reasons. Sponsorship dollars. Personal satisfaction. A desire to represent their country or be the best at swimming or kicking or hitting or whatever it is they’re good at.”

Without humiliating anyone, I find the “less informed, less aware and less street smart” contention is particularly true of one of my physically gifted friends.

While he has a Masters and is one of the most book-smart people I know, he admitted to me that until he was in his late teens, he was completely sheltered by his parents. So much so that he didn’t buy his first CD until around this age. Up to that point, he listened to whatever his parents wanted to listen to, because it was pretty much school, practice, competitions, and the only musical exposure he got was in the car on the way to said school, practice, competitions.

Now the kind of sports he plays aren’t exactly your true blue AFL or cricket (in fact, they’re so obscure I won’t mention them here at the risk of giving him away!), so he’s in another boat altogether: his sports would be, and have been, ridiculed by both your Aussie bogan and your highbrow cultured Australian.

Now, from what I’ve read, Cadel Evans is involved in other noble pursuits, like charity. Unfortunately, I think Freedman’s point was sullied by using Evans to bring it up on national television. Perhaps if she were talking about Stephanie Rice or Ben Cousins her contention would have been more well received. But that’s the risk you run when you voice an opinion that’s not of the norm.

And that’s why I love her. Sure, she got crapped on by most of Australia for making a valid point. But she was able to return to voicing her opinion on Today the same time the following week, joking about going into witness protection, but getting a haircut instead. She was able to find the humour in the situation, and see where she might have been wrong.

For the record, I don’t think she was wrong.

Related: [The Early Bird Catches the Worm] In Defence of Mia Freedman.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Everything They Touch Turns to Gold.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Mama Mia: A Memoir of Mistakes, Magazines & Motherhood By Mia Freedman Review.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Mia Culpa: Confessions from the Watercooler of Life by Mia Freedman Review.

Elsewhere: [MamaMia] Cadel Evans: Is He a Hero?

[MamaMia] Cadel: Here’s What I Learned.

[MamaMia] Is Being Australian Really So Much About Gold Medals?

[MamaMia] Stephanie Rice. Enough With the Hero Worship.

[MamaMia] When Family Time is a Nightmare.

In Defence of Mia Freedman.

 

Mia Freedman’s copped it pretty hard in the media the last couple of weeks, ever since her comments about Cadel Evans and sports stars being held up as heroes.

It’s no secret that Freedman is my idol, so I will go to bat for her til the cows come home. She’s the reason I became a writer. She’s the reason I did work experience at Cosmo. I share a lot of her views. Whether it’s just a happy coincidence, or I’ve shaped my views around hers (I started reading Cosmo at 15, a very impressionable age, so it’s more than likely the latter), I don’t know.

I’ve written about my love for Freedman, followed closely by former Girlfriend and Cleo editor, and current Sunday Life editor, Sarah Oakes, numerous times, and how the incestuous nature of the magazine world ensures a similar writing and editing style from those who work together. Take Freedman and Zoë Foster, for example. Or Oakes and Girl with a Satchel’s Erica Bartle and Musings of an Inappropriate Woman’s Rachel Hills.

Speaking of Sunday Life, Freedman’s column last weekend solidified why she’s a woman after my own heart.

She wrote about spending time with her family, and how planning big events are always a disaster and it’s the little, “mundane moments” that are memorable.

But back to the issue at hand: sportspeople as heroes.

I agree wholeheartedly that sportsmen and women aren’t heroes. (I threw up in my mouth a little bit when Karl Stefanovic and Lisa Wilkinson stood for the national anthem after Evans won the Tour de France.) Yay, they can “swim fast”, “kick a ball with accuracy”, “run quickly” and “jump over high things”. But how does this make them heroes? It makes them superficial “heroes” or emblems of sporting events in which they did good, but not actual heroes. We can leave that title to soldiers, doctors, activists, social workers, firefighters and others who face death and social injustice to save lives and make the world a better place.

As Freedman reiterates:

“I roll my eyes every time another Australian of the Year is named and it’s a sportsperson. I cringe at the CONSTANT sycophancy and praise heaped on sportspeople and the way they are forever lauded as heroes… How does being highly physically capable make you a hero?”

I read somewhere that it is highly likely Evans will be named 2011’s Australian of the Year, so start warming up those eye sockets, Mia!

I brought this notion up with a coworker last week, who said doctors aren’t heroes just because they’re saving lives. But what about Doctors Without Borders, or doctors and nurses with the armed forces? “Well, that’s different,” he said. Why? Because they’re facing their own death whilst trying to prevent someone else’s? But sportspeople aren’t facing death (okay, sometimes they are), and their payoff is purely selfish.

Said coworker mentioned some AFL “hero” who, back in the ’70s (I think; don’t quote me on this), finished the grand final with a torn ligament and brought the premiership home. Some might call it heroism; others stupidity.

And I think the sportsperson=hero dichotomy is abhorrent, considering the extracurricular allegations levelled at some of them. Is Nick D’Arcy a hero for punching some guy and leaving him with irreparable facial damage? Are the Collingwood FC guys heroes for winning last year’s premiership, with some of them subsequently going on to allegedly sexually assault one or some groupies? How about the world class douchebag Brendan Fevola? Or Tiger Woods? O.J. Simpson? Hardly heroes.

Perhaps we should be looking to sportspeople like Glenn McGrath, who works tirelessly for his late wife’s breast cancer foundation. Or the Essendon FC, who work with schools to improve literacy. While not exactly heroes per se, at least they’re doing something other than hitting and kicking balls.

Freedman writes in a related piece:

“Sporting stars may have great physical skills but that’s all. They’re no smarter or better or nicer or more well intentioned than the average Australian. In fact, I would argue that generally (and of course this is a generalisation), they are less informed, less aware and less street smart than the average bear.

“This is because to become a great athlete, you have to spend many years from the time you are very young, refining your skills. That’s years swimming up and down a pool. Years running around a track. Years kicking a ball or hitting it with a bat.

“Years…

“I’m happy for anyone who CHOOSES to spend years of their life dedicated to their sport. Go for it. But let’s not pretend it’s a selfless or noble pursuit.

“Professional athletes do it for many reasons. Sponsorship dollars. Personal satisfaction. A desire to represent their country or be the best at swimming or kicking or hitting or whatever it is they’re good at.”

Without humiliating anyone, I find the “less informed, less aware and less street smart” contention is particularly true of one of my physically gifted friends.

While he has a Masters and is one of the most book-smart people I know, he admitted to me that until he was in his late teens, he was completely sheltered by his parents. So much so that he didn’t buy his first CD until around this age. Up to that point, he listened to whatever his parents wanted to listen to, because it was pretty much school, practice, competitions, and the only musical exposure he got was in the car on the way to said school, practice, competitions.

Now the kind of sports he plays aren’t exactly your true blue AFL or cricket (in fact, they’re so obscure I won’t mention them here at the risk of giving him away!), so he’s in another boat altogether: his sports would be, and have been, ridiculed by both your Aussie bogan and your highbrow cultured Australian.

Now, from what I’ve read, Cadel Evans is involved in other noble pursuits, like charity. Unfortunately, I think Freedman’s point was sullied by using Evans to bring it up on national television. Perhaps if she were talking about Stephanie Rice or Ben Cousins her contention would have been more well received. But that’s the risk you run when you voice an opinion that’s not of the norm.

And that’s why I love her. Sure, she got crapped on by most of Australia for making a valid point. But she was able to return to voicing her opinion on Today the same time the following week, joking about going into witness protection, but getting a haircut instead. She was able to find the humour in the situation, and see where she might have been wrong.

For the record, I don’t think she was wrong.

Related: Everything They Touch Turns to Gold.

Mama Mia: A Memoir of Mistakes, Magazines & Motherhood By Mia Freedman Review.

Mia Culpa: Confessions from the Watercooler of Life by Mia Freedman Review.

Elsewhere: [MamaMia] Cadel Evans: Is He a Hero?

[MamaMia] Cadel: Here’s What I Learned.

[MamaMia] Is Being Australian Really So Much About Gold Medals?

[MamaMia] Stephanie Rice. Enough With the Hero Worship.

[MamaMia] When Family Time is a Nightmare.

Image via ArtsHub.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

 

While I don’t agree with most of the Prime Minster’s actions, this cake of Julia Gillard getting attacked by a crocodile is a bit much. Northern Territory Senator Nigel Scullion didn’t seem to think so, and neither did the voters who crowned him the winner of a local cake baking competition! Scullion could be investigated for insinuating violence against Gillard. [Sydney Morning Herald]

Six steps to come across smarter. [MamaMia]

The best is yet to come, despite some peoples’ seemingly dreary destinies? [Girl with a Satchel]

Read the full version of this article on Kate Ellis being too sexy, which I wrote about in my Sunday Life review last week. [MamaMia]

Amy Winehouse’s death was treated like a spectacle by the media. [The Guardian]

Naww, the languages of love. [MamaMia]

Rachel Hills has some nice things to say about my nice things to say about her Sunday Life column last weekend. [Musings of an Inappropriate Woman]

Following on from her post on Musings last week, Hills writes for the Sydney Morning Herald on the assertion that young people are no longer interested in sex.

 

How your Tweets can betray your gender. [Fast Company]

“Clare’s Law: Should Abuse History be Revealed to New Partners?” Hell to the yeah! [Sydney Morning Herald]

There’s no such thing as “having it all”. [We Mixed Our Drinks]

On the (potential) end of Law & Order: SVU:

“I can’t imagine life after SVU. Mariska Hargitay is taking it much better than me:

“‘For the past 12 years Chris Meloni has been my partner and friend, both on screen and off. He inspired me every day with his integrity, his extraordinary talent and his commitment to the truth. I love him deeply and will miss him terribly—I’m so excited to see what he’ll do next.’

“Speak for yourself, Benson. Unless what he is doing is going back to taking his clothes off on HBO, I’m finding it difficult to muster up enthusiasm for my favourite detective being anything other than that. If anyone needs me, I’ll be crying in bed watching the entire first season on Netflix.” [The Hairpin]

In praise of Joan Holloway. [Pamflet]

Mia Freedman debriefs on the Cadel-Evans-sportspeople-aren’t-heroes hullabaloo from last week. More on this to come next week on The Early Bird. [MamaMia]

Emily Maguire on society’s obsession with female virginity, from April last year. [The Monthly]

The Sweetest Thing, Bridesmaids, Bad Teacher & the Female Raunch Comedy”:

“Comedic movie actresses have to be allowed to not be hot. Not like, high-heel-stuck-in-a sewer-grate, frizzy-flyaway-hair, Anne Hathaway-in-nerd-glasses not-hot. I mean genuinely not-hot. Full-attack mode physical-comedy not-hot. John Belushi not-hot. Not-pretty enough to be actually funny, because vanity contraindicates comedy. And this was the most revolutionary aspect of Bridesmaids; the pratfalls are actually pratfalls, the dick jokes are legitimately obscene.” [Grantland]

Women who don’t wear makeup are “arrogant, lazy or deluded, and frequently all three.” That counts me out, then! [The Daily Mail]

Three years on from Vogue Italia’s “all-black” issue, has the racial landscape of the modeling industry changed? You tell me… [Jezebel]

Tiger wife Wendi Deng-Murdoch’s defensive right hook, which came to the aid of her almost foam pie-faced husband, Rupert, has renewed “belief in love”. [Newsweek]

“In Defence of Imperfection.” [Persephone Magazine]

“30 Years of Women on MTV.” [Jezebel]

Images via MamaMia, Fast Company, Jezebel.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

Rachel Hills answers the age-old aspiring-freelance question: “When should I stop writing for free?” [Musings of an Inappropriate Woman]

Last week, I emailed Hills to get her thoughts on feminist author Erica Jong’s assertion that the “younger generation” (she references her daughter, who is in her thirties) isn’t interested in sex. [Musings of an Inappropriate Woman]

Also at Musings of an Inappropriate Woman, check out these reblogged images above.

Why is there such a big problem with porn? There’ll be more to come on this next week. [Jezebel, via The Scientific American]

Feminism, not enough sex, too much sex, and Muslims were the cause of the Norway terrorist, according to the Norway terrorist. [Jezebel]

Check me out: I’m Girls Are Made from Pepsi’s “Lady of the Week”!

Amy Winehouse VS. Norway: “On Caring About More Than One Thing at Once”:

“If the only world event worth commenting on is the most severe tragedy, then where does the pissing contest end? Yes, what happened in Norway was terrible, but what about what happened in Japan? What about what happened with the Asian tsunami? What about 9/11 here in the good ol’ US of A? (You said you’d never forget!) What about everything bad that has ever happened?” [Jezebel]

Girl with a Satchel’s Erica Bartle gets her faith on on MamaMia. You go, girl!

Also at MamaMia, Mia Freedman’s stirring the pot this week! She writes on Cadel Evans’ Tour de France win and if sportsmen should be considered heroes, the News of the World phone hacking scandal, and runs a guest post by Tony Abbott on why the carbon tax is a bad idea.

“What Your First Screen Crush Says About You.” [Jezebel]

Despite its misogyny, does hip hop actually promote lady love? [Jezebel, Autostraddle]

10 easy steps to radical self love. [Gala Darling]

Why rape cases don’t get prosecuted, parts one and two. [Jezebel]

“The 10 Coolest Witches in Pop Culture.” Where’s Teen Witch? And the Halliwell sisters? Disappointed. [Flavorwire]

“How Not to Propagate Bad News.” [Girl with a Satchel]

She’s out of your league. Kind of relates back to this article from a couple of weeks ago. [Jezebel]

I’ve just signed up to RSVP.com, so this article is kind of appropriate: “Questions We Wish Were Appropriate to Ask on a First Date.” [Jezebel]

Body image, burgers and the First Lady. [WSJ Speakeasy]

Four commentators, including a mum and a teen, weigh in on the Lady-Gaga-as-role-model debate. For more on this topic, check out this article. [Sydney Morning Herald, Girl with a Satchel]

Hugo Schwyzer in defence of talking to girls about beauty. [Healthy is the New Skinny]

“Does Free Birth Control Stand a Chance” in the USA? [Jezebel]

The problem with Black Swan. [Persephone Magazine]

What exactly is a “Mama Grizzly”? And no, I’m not talking about bears. [Newsweek]

“Born This Way” or choose to be gay? Does it really matter? [The Bilerico Project]

Do most men pay for sex in some way, whether it be porn or prostitutes? [Jezebel]

Images via Haley Tobey, Musings of an Inappropriate Woman.