MELBOURNE AFL key forward Ben Brown has seen the evolution of the broader football world over the past five years of the NAB AFLW competition.
Brown has previously been an assistant coach with North Melbourne's AFLW side when he played for the club, before crossing to the Dees in last year's AFL Trade Period.
"Historically, it's been men running around and bumping into each other, tackling each other, showing feats of bravery and all these sorts of things," Brown told the Cutting Oranges podcast with Darcy Vescio.
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"People love those stories, and those stories really inform – they take that away, and I definitely did growing up – it informs the way you live your life. Historically, those stories have been defined by males, particularly in the sporting space.
"And now, young girls can see Kirsty Lamb putting her head over the ball, winning it and bustling through and getting the ball forward. They can see Tayla Harris jumping over a pack and taking a [mark]. They can see you (Vescio) pick up the ball, little goose step, snap a goal. These are things that growing up, I didn't believe girls could do that. Now I think everyone can see they can.
"I've been really cognisant of not coming into the women's space and saying, 'this is how you play the game'. Because the game's quite different, and I don't have all the knowledge and history of AFLW and women's footy to go off, so I need to listen and learn as much as I can."
Brown and wife Hester are ambassadors for Our Watch, an organisation which focuses on the primary prevention of violence against women and children in Australia.
"It's great I get to do it with 'Hess', we get to do it as a partnership because I think we work really well in a partnership in that space," Brown said.
"I've learned so much just from meeting 'Hess' and just listening to her and listening to her stories about some of the experiences she had when she was growing up, which I think is safe to say weren't out of the ordinary for a young girl growing up in Australia.
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"The learning I've undertaken in that area has been pretty eye-opening for me, and I'm still learning, I think it's really a learning experience. One of the main things we need to do as a man in this space is yes, we need to think about how we can impact in those areas when we're with our peers, but it's mainly around listening and opening our eyes up to different views of the world.
"Recognising that, yes, everyone has their trials and tribulations in life, but barriers exist for certain people through no fault of their own. It's the way things were from when they were born, from day one, that aren't in place for me or for a whole group of other men in our society. I think it's just the injustice – is the word that pops into my head – of that situation that makes me want to change and grow and learn in that space."
If you or someone you know is experiencing sexual abuse or family violence contact:
National Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence Counselling Service 24-hour helpline 1800 RESPECT on 1800 737 732
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