QA Statement: Gender in Quidditch
By Cameron Caccamo, QA Media Director
Just after lunchtime on Friday, I sent every QA Member an email blast. It was the much-anticipated Gender in Quidditch special edition of QA Today, with links to five articles that discussed different gender-based issues the sport faces today. Here are the links to articles from myself, Tegan Diep, Ana Barciela, anonymous, and Sophie Fitch. Please go and read all of them before continuing.
It is that last one that caused quite a stir – and unfortunately not because it created healthy discussion about how the Dropbears approach using their female players, as the article intended.
Quidditch Australia received multiple complaints about the article. Some regarded the qualifications, or lack thereof, of Fitch to make such an argument. Some said that Fitch had not correctly sourced her piece. Others said that the article was completely untruthful.
As the Editor of QA Today, I took these concerns very seriously. I did not feel comfortable editing the submissions given to me; I have no experience in issues relating to gender, and would rather those that have be given the opportunity to speak freely. I did not imagine a scenario where any submission would be untruthful in advancing their case.
For this particular article, I had very limited knowledge of the goings-on within Dropbear Camps in 2016 or 2018, so could not fact-check some of these claims myself. Again, I had no reason to assume Fitch would lie in her piece; many women especially could speak to the pain associated with not being believed when they try to speak out, and I did not want to be another man to do so.
The Board of Quidditch Australia convened after receiving these complaints, and decided the best course of action was to take down the piece temporarily. We reached out to players and staff associated with the Dropbears, both to determine the veracity of the piece and to sound out potential responses to it. This occurred on Friday night, only hours after the piece was published.
All through the weekend, the Board continued this dialogue. After two days, we decided to republish the piece. We received no formal written responses in that time, but were confident that several people that we spoke to are currently formulating in-depth responses. We also determined that the piece was not untruthful to the point of having to take it down, with several members of leadership and the team itself agreeing and disagreeing with parts of the article.
I have been made aware since the republishing of the piece that some members of the community were not happy the piece was republished at all. I am not in the business of censoring our members; I made an open call out for opinions, one was published, and after potential concerns were brought to our attention we did our due diligence in trying to ascertain if those concerns had any merit. At the end of that process we republished the piece, all the while speaking to key stakeholders about how they could respond to the article if they wished.
The best way to prove an idea wrong is not necessarily to shut it down, but to show exactly where it is wrong and advance that case well enough to have the community agree with you.
QA fully expects people to disagree with these articles in part or even in whole. We did not seek to publish these articles to tell you what to think; we published these to create discussion. So we would be open to anyone writing responses; and of course we would be happy to publish them.
My email is firstname.lastname@example.org, and I would encourage anyone wanting to pitch an article or response to contact me directly. I am planning another QA Today edition for Thursday afternoon, so if you have something written by Wednesday night I can include a link in that email blast.
Alternatively, if you have an issue with how I and QA have handled the situation, you can email me, QA President Luke Derrick (email@example.com), or have your Team or State Representative talk to one of us on your behalf. We are always striving to be the best organisation we can be for our members, so we are always happy to hear from you if you think we can do better.
Finally, if anyone is planning on making a response to Fitch’s article regarding how the Dropbears performed in 2018, I have something else for you to submit to as well. This was planned to be announced in the aforementioned email blast, but I’ll drop it here as well.
While no one can fault the amazing effort our players and staff put in to our World Cup campaign, we were still gutted to only achieve 5th place at the tournament. We want to know what we can do better for next time – from the selection process to how we play at the Cup itself. This is a feedback form: I would encourage all of you to fill it out; player, staff, Dropbear applicant, and spectators can all have their say in how the Dropbears performed and what can be done in 2020 to get a better result.
We are not looking for judgement on individual players, but on the system; what worked, what did not work, what can be improved.
You can fill in that form here.
The purpose of this Gender in Quidditch exercise was not to create further division, or to relitigate months-old arguments; it was to showcase to the rest of the community the challenges we collectively face. We had so many brave words from our writers, and I hope all of the opinions they put forward are discussed just as much as this controversial take from Fitch is.
I hope that at Quidditch trainings, games, and social events around the country, players are discussing what they have learnt from these pieces, and what they can do better as a club or team or even individual to make sure every player they interact with is made to feel welcome.
So if you have read to the end of this, not knowing what was going on or looking for a bit of explanation for the ~drama~ I say this: go back and read those articles instead; or perhaps think about writing your own. It would be a much better contribution to the discourse.