THE GRID girls and the dart damsels have done their dash and LAWRENCE MONEY reckons it’s time for the discrimination wardens to step in:
LIKE THE GIRL from Ipanema, the showgirls of sport are invariably tall and tanned and young and lovely – although these days the people who go “Ahh” when they pass, well, they might just get into trouble for sexual harassment.
Sadly, in this era of outrage, the girl from Ipanema herself might be found culpable. Flaunting your height comes very close to body-shaming. Tanned skin skates close to racial profiling. Age and appearance? Call in the discrimination commissioner.
Little wonder the Formula One grid girls have just been ditched. Management got the feminism trembles after the “walk-on girls” of the darts world were scrapped a week earlier by the Professional Darts Corporation in Britain. Yes, the same land where Benny Hill made a TV show chasing half-naked sheilas decades ago.
Formula One obviously took note of the UK Women’s Sport Trust. “We applaud the PDC for moving with the times,” said the matriarchs of the trust. “Motor racing, boxing and cycling…your move.”
In the darts world last weekend the new girl-free format was launched at the Masters at Milton Keynes but there was an immediate counter-offensive — by mid-week a petition to bring back the gals had topped 20,000 signatures.
Personally, I’ve never seen the point of darts (boom boom) but it does seem to be a sport that cries out for a bit more pizzazz than the sight of Ernie sucking on a fag, hitching up his belt and firing one at the bulls-eye.
A few Ipanema girls sure brightened things up and, judging by the remarks of one of them on Twitter, they are not too happy with developments. “My rights have been taken away,” says Charlotte Wood, a walk-on girl and model. “I have chosen to do this job. I go to work, put on a nice dress and escort players on to the stage, I smile and that is it. I don’t see what the problem is.”
A tweeter named “Double 17”, who “designs and programs a PDC darts simulator”, is in the same corner: “Where does this end? Do we get rid of the crowds? How about we get rid of drinking? Some people are very likely offended by each of those things too.”
Well, the disappearance of the sports showgirl will kill off hundreds of jobs for females who happen to be easy on the eye. Is that discrimination based on appearance?
Let’s face it. Not every female can whack a tennis ball like Wozniacki – and not every female can decorate a stage like Charlotte Wood. No one is forcing Caroline to play tennis and no one was forcing Charlotte to strut her stuff.
Moral of the story: use the gifts the good lord gave you, say I. Who says the gift of physical co-ordination, enabling Wozniacki to belt a ball, is somehow superior to the gift of a pleasing physical appearance? Both gifts will disappear in time. If Charlotte and the walk-on girls want to cash in now, let ‘em.
Hand me that petition.
Lawrence Money has twice been named Victoria's best newspaper columnist by the Melbourne Press Club. He wrote columns for 37 years on the Melbourne Herald, Sunday Age and daily Age -- and in Royalauto and Your Sport magazines -- before retiring in 2016 after a 50-year career in journalism.
He still treads the speaking circuit, does radio gigs, tweets on @lozzacash and chases a long-gone 13 golf handicap. He clings to the eternal hope that the Melbourne Demons will once again win a flag.