I Just Find It Funny That NRL Anti-Vaxxers Don’t Like Being Told What To Do With Their Bodies

How do you like those apples, sir?

You really gotta love irony.

The NRL have been gearing up to return to play very soon, and it looks like they’ll be implementing a compulsory flu vaccination policy.

Already, a handful of players have stood against the ‘No Jab, No Play’ rule, citing their freedom to choose what to do with (and put in) their bodies.

Protesting players include Dylan Walker, Addin Fonua-Blake (Manly Sea Eagles), Josh Papalii, Joseph Tapine, Sia Soliola (Canberra Raiders), Sione Katoa (Canterbury Bulldogs), and Bryce Cartwright, Brian Kelly – who were both stood down from the Gold Coast Titans after the Queensland government intervened.

Many of those players have taken to their social media to release statements, arguing it’s their “right to choose” whether or not to get the vaccine – vaccines,  NRL legend Phil Gould says, that are standard practice for every team, every year.


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A post shared by Dylan Walker (@dwalkz_3) on

“What you choose to do with your own body is up to you,” player Dylan Walker posted to his Instagram. “No one should encroach on your bodily autonomy.”

“It is our individual responsibility to ensure that our right to choose is never TAKEN away. … I am standing for freedom to choose and to make decisions for our own bodies.”

But, I’m not here to debate whether players getting the shot is good or bad. Even though I’m definitely on the ‘ffs just get the damn needle’ side, and love science and medicine and think anti-vaxxers are a little (very) misguided. And even though the whole saga is bad, I’m not interested in the needles. I’m interested in the talk about the needles.

I find it funny that these players are crying ‘my body, my choice’, when women have been crying the same damn thing since the 1960s. It’s ironic. I wonder how they like being told what to do with their bodies, and having their choices policed. It seems it’s no fun for them.

But it’s frustrating that players (and their #FreedomofChoice supporters) are co-opting the language of pro-choice and bodily autonomy for their mission. It’s insulting, and it’s plain old wrong.

#ProChoice And Saying ‘No’ To A Flu Shot Aren’t The Same.

Players and their supporters alike are really banging on their right to choose to vaccinate, and their right to not. And, I’ll give it to them, it’s a fair argument (ofc it is, so is pro-choice), but unless they’re actually talking about abortion laws, they shouldn’t confuse #prochoice with #prochoicetovaccinate. That’s not on.


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A post shared by Bryce Cartwright (@brycecartwright6) on

Bryce Cartwright, the Titans player copping a lot of heat, confused the two, posting he stands “for the freedom to choose what goes into our bodies.”

“I am pro-choice, pro-informed consent, and pro-medical freedom,” he posted on Instagram.

Home and Away actress Isabel Lucas backed Cartwright for speaking up.

“Keep standing for #prochoice,” she commented on the post. “You are so courageous.”

Again, unless we’re talking about abortion laws, don’t start conflating the two. They’re not the same. Not at all.

Now You Know What It’s Like To Have Your Body Policed.

Where were the tidal waves of support for wom*n fighting for their right to bodily autonomy?

Where were these people when women are assaulted and slain in the streets? Where are they when police tell women to be safer, to not walk home alone?

Where was their support when we were protesting abortion laws? Where were they when the, dare I say, real pro-choice debate raged on?

I find it funny, albeit frustrating, that these men have kicked up such a stink after five minutes of being told what to do. And not over something minor – something pretty major: the safety of their teammates, their opponents, coaches and staff, game officials, their families.

Their bodies aren’t being policed for what it looks like, what’s on (or off) it. They’re being policed for the sake of public health.

But, they are right to say no. We can’t deny that. As much as I may disagree with their no-jab stance – and even more with them spreading misleading ‘scientific’ evidence on their platforms – it’s their prerogative. I don’t like it, but they’re free to do it.

What I will not stand for is appropriating language that has long been touted as nonsense when shouted by the powerless. Their pro-choice is not my ‘pro-choice’. Their right to bodily autonomy, I’ll respect, but it’s not the same right to bodily autonomy of MeToo, Times Up and the Women’s March.

I can’t help but laugh at the irony of it all. Men’s bodies became a political playground for five minutes and they tapped out. But at least they’ve had a taste of what it’s like.

Image Source: Twitter (@Uncle_Barrells)

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