The Warner-de Kock stoush has slut-shaming at its core

by Paul Thomas / 22 March, 2018
RelatedArticlesModule - David Warner Quinton de Kock

Australian batsman and test vice-captain David Warner has put up with years of abuse. Photo/Getty Images

The Australians earnt scant sympathy for the staircase stoush, but Quinton de Kock crossed the line.

Not even the combined heft of #metoo and International Women’s Day can persuade the cricket community to set aside its loathing of the Australian men’s team and vice-captain David Warner in particular.

During the recent test at Kingsmead in Durban, Warner was filmed raging at South African wicketkeeper-batsman Quinton de Kock on the staircase outside their respective dressing rooms during a break in play. The Australians were on top and, as is often the case, had been sledging the opposition batsmen. They hunt as a pack and Warner is the leader.

As they left the field, Warner called de Kock a “f---ing sook”. Inside the pavilion, de Kock, who was following Warner, muttered the remark that ignited the flare-up. Warner characterised it as “vile and disgusting and about my wife”.

The response among media and fans here and elsewhere was, in effect, “who cares?” The Ugly Australians were copping some of their own medicine. ESPNcricinfo senior editor Sharda Ugra asked, “Why is it that whenever there’s an epic-proportion bust-up in international cricket, Australians are almost always involved?”

There was precious little sympathy for the Aussies’ complaint that de Kock had “crossed a line”. Ugra again: “Such righteousness from the prime offender can only invite ridicule.”

Sonny Bill Williams, Candice Falzon, Quinton de Kock. Photo/Getty Images

Warner’s wife, Candice (née Falzon), a former ironwoman and model, is something of a celebrity across the Tasman. In 2007, when she was 22, she was captured on camera participating in a “tryst” in the men’s toilet of a Sydney pub with none other than Sonny Bill Williams. It’s assumed de Kock made mention of that. South African fans certainly thought so: many turned up to the next test wearing SBW masks.

It’s hard to understand why the notion of crossing a line caused so much derision. Sport is criss-crossed by lines: they’re called “rules” or “laws”, and whether they are written or unwritten, you break them at your peril. A batsman cannot be given out lbw to a ball that pitches so much as a centimetre outside leg stump, even if it’s certain that it was going to strike the middle of middle stump. In rugby, if you hit an opponent above shoulder-height, you’ll be sent from the field.

Sledging must be measured in relative terms and it’s absurd to insist otherwise. Warner, we’re told, “asked for it”, but I am aware of no instances of Warner or any current Australian player dwelling on an opponent’s partner’s sexual history. South African coach Ottis Gibson asked, “Where is the line? Where did the line come from?” If you don’t know, I’d suggest you shouldn’t be coaching schoolkids, let alone internationals.

It’s worth noting that, while continuing to put all the blame on Warner, some South Africans professed to be appalled by the SBW masks.

To return to the Falzon-SBW encounter: he was in a relationship yet got away relatively unscathed; she’d had a succession of short-lived relationships with well-known sportsmen. If she was a male, she would’ve been called a “ladies’ man” or something similarly complimentary. But she was a woman, so there were media references to her “insatiable love life”. I’ll leave you to decode that.

For years, Warner and his wife have had to put up with abuse – the Barmy Army has a charming chant that goes, “Davy Warner’s over the hill/He came second to Sonny Bill” – that is, at its core, slut-shaming. De Kock and his defenders aren’t the only ones who owe them an apology.

This article was first published in the March 24, 2018 issue of the New Zealand Listener.

Latest

How NZ women won the right to vote first: The original disruptors & spiteful MPs
96463 2018-09-19 00:00:00Z History

How NZ women won the right to vote first: The orig…

by Vomle Springford

Is it right that while the loafer, the gambler, the drunkard, and even the wife-beater has a vote, earnest, educated and refined women are denied it?

Read more
Fémmina: The story of NZ's unsung suffrage provocateur Mary Ann Müller
96479 2018-09-19 00:00:00Z History

Fémmina: The story of NZ's unsung suffrage provoca…

by Cathie Bell

Mary Ann Müller was fighting for women’s rights before Kate Sheppard even arrived here, but her pioneering contribution to the cause is little known.

Read more
How Marilyn Waring went from political prodigy to international influencer
96505 2018-09-19 00:00:00Z Profiles

How Marilyn Waring went from political prodigy to …

by Clare de Lore

Marilyn Waring is nearing the last chapter of an account of her time as an MP, which ended abruptly with the calling of a snap election.

Read more
Ian McKellen charms his way through a documentary about his life
96472 2018-09-19 00:00:00Z Movies

Ian McKellen charms his way through a documentary …

by James Robins

Joe Stephenson’s tender documentary Playing the Part looks at McKellen's life as an actor, activist and perpetual wizard.

Read more
The Chosen Bun: A smart new burger joint opens in Stonefields
96507 2018-09-19 00:00:00Z Auckland Eats

The Chosen Bun: A smart new burger joint opens in …

by Alex Blackwood

Burgers, milkshakes and fries are not rare things to find in Auckland, so The Chosen Bun's owners were smart to be very picky about their ingredients.

Read more
The brutality experienced by the suffragettes
11636 2018-09-19 00:00:00Z Listener NZ 2015

The brutality experienced by the suffragettes

by Sally Blundell

As we mark 125 years since NZ women got the right to vote, we must remember it didn't come easily.

Read more
The case for closing prisons
96403 2018-09-18 00:00:00Z Social issues

The case for closing prisons

by Paul Little

If we want a prison system that does a better job than the current one, alternatives aren’t hard to find.

Read more
Jennifer Curtin: The feminist political scientist mixing rugby with politics
96422 2018-09-18 00:00:00Z Profiles

Jennifer Curtin: The feminist political scientist …

by Clare de Lore

Australian-New Zealander Jennifer Curtin says the lopsided nature of the Bledisloe Cup pales in comparison to the slump in transtasman relations.

Read more