By Harbour Heather
I’ve found since my last birthday, I’ve turned into much more of a bra burner than I was in my youth. Older and wiser, perhaps? Or is the world just producing more rage-worthy moments? News of a Singles Zone at the upcoming NRL Auckland Nines actually solicited a physiological response. A sour taste in the mouth, an uneasy feeling in the stomach. There’s no classier way to sell tickets to your event than evoking carnal instincts.
And before I get accosted and labelled an overreacting feminist, why do we look at the word feminist as an insult, as if it shouldn’t be our default setting to have both sexes treated equally and give everyone the same opportunities? And while I’m sure entry to the NRL Auckland Nines Singles Zone is open to all – ladies on the prowl as well as men – even their promotional image cuts to the chase.
— NRL Auckland Nines (@NRLAKL9s) January 16, 2017
Guys, you can find keen, up for it ladies in our Singles Zone. They’ll be in sexy outfits and totally raring to go! Where’s the picture of shirtless Baywatch lifeguards or bronzed Tarzans? How do I know if there is going to be anyone in the Singles Zone for me?! Do you have to be a card-carrying singleton to enter? Can one enter as a wingman? So many questions.
But the biggest question is why. Why?
Sport is fun to watch, and at all day events like the Nines, the Sevens, a One Day International, the line between fun in the stands and the sport on the field gets a bit blurry. They’re long days and people need to occupy themselves. Family zones, loud zones, alcohol zones are longstanding parts of sporting events. Why should the Singles Zone be any different to those?
It’s the connotation behind it. How many of the people in the Singles Zone are going to be their best selves across the two days? I’m not sure I’d want to be canvassing for the love of my life while I was at a sports game. Why don’t we call it what it really is – the Auckland Nines f—k zone. Maybe someone will be like the Warriors, and just fall short at the final step. Will there be a money back guarantee? If the girl dressed as a Swedish barmaid doesn’t go home with a guy, will she be ridiculed and told she shouldn’t have dressed like that? Shouldn’t have entered the Singles Zone if she didn’t intend on following through? There are no parameters here, and while you could assume that one’s presence in the Singles Zone suggests availability, it does not translate to consent to be sexually harassed, verbally or physically.
But the Zone implicitly implies that everyone who enters will be objectified. Some young men at sports games already think females in attendance are there solely for their enjoyment. Get some alcohol and a pack mentality into them and the looks, the cat-calls and chants start. Tits out for the boys, anyone?
Too harsh? Not all males in the Zone will be sleazy people, I understand that. Some girls may display those exact behaviours listed above. Females who enter the zone are technically opting in. However, it is important to view the Singles Zone in context, in a frame of reference where New Zealand Rugby has had to introduce a Respect and Responsibility panel to address a rise in high profile unsavoury behavioural slip ups by their players. They’ve realised that what goes on tour hardly stays on tour anymore, not with the rise of social media and moral outrage (self-referencing moment), and moved to address it. The fact that Nines organisers have not only designated, but actively promoted, an area where promiscuous behaviour can occur and may escalate, brings the tone of the whole event down.
And after all, isn’t an entire sports stadium a singles zone? A concert, a beach? How on Earth did we survive without one?
Perhaps we shouldn’t be too hard on Duco. After all, sex sells, right? I just thought there were more specific and private avenues if you’re willing to spend money on that kind of thing.
And hey, if two consenting adults go home and have fun, and even better, live happily ever after, then all’s well that ends well. But did they really need a designated area at a sports event to do so? And besides, there’s already a Singles Zone in place for the Nines. It’s called Tinder. #OptIn
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