Question Eddie needs to be asked

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Collingwood President Eddie McGuire is on thin ice after some offensive comments made about Age journalist Caroline Wilson.

Does Eddie McGuire want to be a radio shock jock or the Collingwood President? Because being both isn’t working for him. Picture: Darrian Traynor/Getty Images


OPINION

AFTER Eddie McGuire’s casual joking about violence against women, which is its own bucket of abhorrent, I think it’s now clear that the question needs to be asked of him: are you a football club president or a radio shock jock?

Eddie along with former AFL player and All Australian selector Danny Frawley and fellow broadcaster James Brayshaw (also an AFL club president) joked about drowning journalist Caroline Wilson on air.

Yes, you read that right, in the lead up to the AFL’s White Ribbon round, which is aimed at preventing violence against women, Eddie McGuire said he would pay $50,000 to see Wilson stay under a pool of iced water and charge an extra $10,000 for everyone to “stand around the outside and bomb her”.

Frawley then went as far as to say “I’ll actually jump in to make sure she doesn’t come up. I’ll hold her under, Ed.”

I mean this is next level idiocy, it actually took my breath away. To put their asinine conversation into context they were crossing live to the Big Freeze, which was held on the Queen’s birthday public holiday.

This involved high profile men sliding down an icy slide into freezing cold water, to raise awareness and money for MND research. Yes, the same water McGuire and his band of morons were hoping to put Wilson in.

Eddie McGuire participating in The Big Freeze. Picture: Tracey Nearmy/AAP

Eddie McGuire participating in The Big Freeze. Picture: Tracey Nearmy/AAPSource:AAP

All involved initially tried to pass it off as “harmless banter” and conceded that perhaps it was a “poor attempt in humour” and maybe “insensitive” in nature.

Let’s get a couple of things straight shall we?

First of all “banter” happens with the other person. Banter is a transaction. Joking when someone’s not there is not “banter”, it’s bullying. Also, the excuse “but I was just joking” doesn’t hold in 2016.

A man in Eddie’s position needs to put himself in other people’s shoes and consider how they might react to the things he says. Not just the subject matter but the people he influences with his opinions.

Although it’s spectacularly clear he just thinks that straight, white males are listening. Because I don’t know who else he thinks is going to laugh at indigenous players being called apes and women being drowned. That being said, none of the straight white men in my life would think that either of those things were remotely funny, in any way.

Being a shock jock and a club president are both powerful positions, I don’t think that Eddie McGuire is working hard enough to keep them separate.

It is abundantly clear that he had his feelings hurt by Caroline Wilson’s column about his presidency and his handling of Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley after round seven.

His response to this, to put it mildly, was NOT presidential. It felt like schoolyard bullying — he couldn’t handle the criticism so he made some gross jokes with his mates and then claimed it as “banter.”

If the president has his ego bruised, the shock jock shouldn’t have a crack in response. If he can’t manage that, then he needs to pick one. Eddie McGuire cannot legitimately say that his status as the Collingwood club president does not impact his role as a broadcaster and vice versa.

To those of you saying, “Stop making such a big deal about this, he was clearly joking,” (which as I write this Pauline Hanson has just done, and she’s a dubious ally for McGuire to say the least) I say this: It’s time we stop normalising and accepting casual comments about violence against women and passing them off as a bit of harmless fun.

Because it’s not harmless. As we keep seeing, women actually die. One a week in fact.

So if you’re making even “a bit of banter” that contributes to that, especially if you have the ear of millions of people who have the power to stop it, through I don’t know; a male focused radio station and/or a huge football club, you need to try harder and think longer about the messages you are sending.

Em Rusciano is a comedian, writer, singer and regular news.com.au columnist. You can follow her on Facebook.

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