Why “Ape” Is Offensive

By now everyone in Australia has heard about, and were disappointed by Eddie McGuire’s shocking suggestion that Adam Goodes should promote the new King Kong stage show in Melbourne.

For the out-of-towners, and anyone who missed it, here’s a quick catch up: Last weekend the AFL celebrated its Indigenous Round where recognition is given to the achievements of Australian indigenous players, past and present. Adam Goodes is one such highly respected and successful indigenous player who kicks goals for the Sydney Swans. Eddie McGuire is the president of the Collingwood Football club who played against Sydney last Friday night. He also hosts a breakfast radio show in Melbourne. Towards the end of the match a young Collingwood fan racially vilified Adam Goodes when he was near their area on the boundary line. It was later revealed she was 13 years old and called him an ape. Eddie McGuire, the president of the opposing team, raced to the Swans’ club rooms to offer support and apologise on behalf of the Collingwood club and their fans. The girl later apologised to Goodes and he graciously accepted her apology and encouraged people to support and educate her and not hound her for her mistake. A true sportsman. McGuire also pushed for support and education for the girl rather than punishment.

McGuire received much praise for his actions after the game and the respect was flowing freely from the community towards both Adam Goodes and McGuire for their handling of the situation. And to think this happened during the Indigenous Round, of all times. Shocking.

But all of McGuire’s good deeds were undone on Wednesday, during his breakfast show when he and his co-host, former AFL player Luke Darcy, were discussing the opening the King Kong Stage show in Melbourne.  Darcy had just mentioned that the giant ape’s hand that had been hung from the Eureka Tower’s Skydeck, 300 metres above the ground being a great promotional gimmick for the show, Eddie McGuire, the football club president who apologised to Adam Goodes five days prior for a racial slur, suggested Goodes should promote the King Kong stage show.

No, Ed. Just no, said Darcy, and virtually all of Melbourne, if not Australia. The collective groan was almost audible.

On the Friday night Goodes was visibly upset. It was by a young girl who probably didn’t realise how offensive it is. He was upset again on Wednesday. And it came from an educated professional.

Some say Goodes overreacted. No, he didn’t. In fact he took it very well. These people don’t get it. Why is it offensive to call an indigenous Australian an ape? Let me tell you. It’s not hard to understand.

Up until quite recently Man (more specifically, Western Man) didn’t consider himself an animal. There were animals and there were humans. And humans were far above the animal. When Europeans first arrived in Australia in the late 1700’s they treated the Aborigines like animals. If they weren’t killed they were used as slaves for general hard labour, the women and girls were used as sex objects. They had very few rights. For example, there were many courtroom battles regarding their right to vote throughout history and these were not settled until the late 1960’s. It took the indigenous Aussies a very long time to be seen as equals, as humans. And the battle isn’t over.

To call an indigenous Australian an ape or anything else that suggests they are sub-human is a massive kick in the guts. It’s a trusting back 200 years into the past where they meet the pain their ancestors endured while white man wandered around literally treating them like animals, kicking and raping their peoples and their land. Their Dreaming.

Please don’t do it. They’ve been around for more than 40,000 years. Have some respect. #racismitstopswithme

5 thoughts on “Why “Ape” Is Offensive

  1. jessmittens

    I honestly thought that ‘ape’ was a name you called dumb people, ‘come on ya ape get it together’. I didn’t know it was racially offensive so when I heard the news I was like, “What? Can you not call indigenous people dumb?” and was like but that’s just like racism itself. Then I was like ‘ohhhhh’.
    Sorry for the play-by-play of my reaction haha, but I think it must not be a (racially offensive) word that’s part of the younger generations vocabularies, which can only be a good thing.

    1. Richard Leonard Post author

      Interesting thought process, Jess. Although I’m not sure how the girl might have thought he was dumb because he certainly is not. It was likely because he was playing so well against her team whihc was losing badly, nothing more. My first thought was it was connected with his hairy beard! But some thought about how it was taken to be a racial slur lead me to this conclusion. I should point out the above eplanation of why ape is offensive to indigenous people is just where my own logic led me. I didn’t do any ressearch into it. But it makes a lot of sense to me so I went with it. 🙂

    1. Richard Leonard Post author

      No, they’re not. They are everywhere. Education is the only way. One of the best ways to become educated is to actually spend some quality time with these people. We’re hoping our daughter gets to go on a camp later this year to an aboriginal community in the Northern Territory for a week or so. That will be an eye opener. Unfortunately there are more applicants than positions available.


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