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When a powerful, athletic photograph of AFLW player Tayla Harris went viral, the last thing she expected was online abuse and an onslaught of sexualised comments, triggering a response about sexism in sport.

AFL Women’s player Tayla Harris was the subject of an image that became the centre of an online trolling storm in women’s sport, which has now received a viral response.

A photo was taken of her with her legs spread widely in mid-kick of the opening goal for her team, Carlton, in a weekend game for the AFLW league. It drew much attention, being described as showing a great athlete at her most powerful that many saw as inspirational.

It drew much attention, being described as showing a great athlete at her most powerful that many saw as inspirational.

However, in a way that is all too familiar in women’s sport, the image was bombarded with sexualised, misogynistic comments, and the post was removed from the Seven Network’s social media. Many were quick to criticise the Network, claiming that the photo itself wasn’t the problem, but the attitude of those who left abusive and horrible comments.

In a way that is all too familiar in women’s sport, the image was bombarded with sexualised, misogynistic comments.

Eventually reposting the image, Seven apologised. Claiming that the removal had sent the wrong message, they said they would continue to celebrate women’s footy. “Our intention was to highlight [Tayla Harris’] incredible athleticism,” They said.

It was too little, too late. Many condemned the network’s handling of the online abuse, arguing that erasing the picture rather than the comments had caused even more damage.

Harris said she felt that she had been subjected to sexual abuse on social media. “Here’s a pic of me at work… think about this before your derogatory comments, animals,” Harris responded to the trolls.

The now infamous photo has since sparked a passionate social media response from many wanting to show solidarity and support. The #TaylaKickChallenge began, with thousands posting to social media an image of their replication of the kick, with Harris saying she would pick a winner herself.

https://twitter.com/taylaharriss/status/1111122493484339200

“Things have changed… if you’re not with us, you will be left behind.”

The image of Harris is now infamous, not because of the ugly misogyny that it created but because of the celebration and show of support it inspired. Harris thanked her supporters, in a message; “Things have changed… if you’re not with us, you will be left behind.”