On Friday’s episode 3, The Have Nots, of the gritty, exciting Season Two of Jockeys on Animal Planet– sexism finally got addressed. Horse racing is a male-dominated sport. Most owners, trainers and jockeys are men. It’s a scrappy profession and sport. It pays when you win big and you have name recognition. When you don’t, well then you have to scrape to get by [exercise riders make $15.00 per mount]. I can relate to this as a struggling writer. I’ve been paid in the past but my name has never had enough cache for the big bucks, so now I have to pursue other opportunities. I have acquaintances that have sold books and still have day jobs.
Australian jockey Kayla Stra had a nasty altercation in the men’s locker room. The set-up at the Santa Anita race track is rather outdated. There’s a large men’s locker room and a small women’s locker room [due to the ratio of men to women, obviously]. However, in order for women to successfully do their jobs as jockeys they must enter the men’s locker rooms to watch replays of races on the television screens and also to weigh in.
During a race, Kayla felt she had been crowded in by another jockey and she had been yelling back and forth with him to let her out. Someone yells to her: “Hit that Kangaroo!” That jockey then cleared the way for another male to get by. Other jockeys explained that this is often how it’s done out there: jockeys will look out for each other.
Being a female, Kayla understands that she is an underdog and getting unfair and unwarranted treatment by the men. When she comes into the men’s locker room to watch the tape, they yell at her and tell her she should go back to Australia. Someone pushed her and then some of the guys complained to a steward that she shouldn’t be in the locker room at all because the men were changing. Kayla posted a note on the bulletin board basically stating [in colorful language] that she couldn’t care less about seeing any of them in whatever state of undress they are in.
Suddenly, things escalated to the point that they were saying, “What’s the matter, miha? Are you on your period?” and other unsettling, unflattering, inflammatory, boyish remarks. It’s a prime example of poor sportsmanship/ immaturity and sexist behavior on the part of a lot of the male jockeys.
Finally, Kayla speaks to the union representative for the jockeys, who is very nice and wants Kayla to be comfortable and comes up with some solutions for her– moving the women’s locker room to a different location so that they can have their own televisions to watch replays on for one thing.