The Dawn Chorus

Fresh Australian Feminism

Misogyny in Football? Never! At least not according to North Melbourne…

Posted by caitlinate on April 8, 2009

So when I said I was going to stop reading The Age I guess I wasn’t really going to.

Late last year members of the North Melbourne Football Club posted a video on the internet. In the last few days it has found it’s way onto youtube and the eyes of journalists from The Age. The four-minute video featured a rubber rooster named Little Boris depicting sex acts on the carcass of a real chicken. The backing track is ‘Move Bitch’ by Ludacris.

Throughout the video that was on YouTube, Boris the toy chicken has a condom on its head and is manipulated to look as if it is penetrating the carcass of a real chicken that also features throughout the film. The final scenes show the real chicken carcass being hurled against a wall and run over by a van – before the rubber chicken returns and simulates fornication again

I haven’t seen the video (it’s been taken down) but the original copy from The Age, that I read several hours ago, stated that the carcass was clearly meant to represent a woman. I can’t really comment on the contents of the video – though I’ll believe it contained offensive stuff – but it’s the response from the club that concerns me.

When I read the original response from the club they were all focused not on how terrible it was that the video had been made at all but how bad it was that the video had gotten out and become available to the public.

“I’m furious to say the least that it’s gotten out though I haven’t had the advantage of seeing it.”

They’ve followed up today with this statement from Kangaroos chief executive Eugene Arocca:

From our point of view it’s a foolish misguided prank that is clearly offensive and we’re embarrassed and quite apologetic for that as a club and as an organisation,” Mr Arocca said.

Mr Arocca said the club was still investigating the identities and number of players involved in the video which he said was not an “intentionally motivated action“.

If you’re apologetic then why haven’t you issued an apology? A real, unreserved apology in which you promise a period of self examination and introspection? Plus, what the hell does ‘intentionally motivated action’ mean? And how did the members who made the video not act in an intentional or motivated way? What? It was an accidental and unmotivated action?

“If this was an intentional designed to harm video I think that would be a different position.”

That’s the problem. No it wouldn’t. Just because you don’t intend to do something or intend to cause offense or intend to cause harm it doesn’t mean you don’t. It also doesn’t mean it is okay. When people engage in actions that are sexist or misogynist or racist or heterosexist or transmisogynist it doesn’t matter what they meant or why they meant it – they did it. By focussing on the intentions of the do-er we distract attention away from what they did and how it hurt.

He denied that the video was symptomatic of a misogynistic attitude within the club.

This video and their reactions to it show that there clearly are misogynisitic attitudes within the club. Instead of condemning and apologising for the fact that some people within the club, no matter how small a minority, have such views they expend their energy on denying it all, at all, no, not here, never, nup. They haven’t, in any statement, condemned the contents of the video. Instead they’ve shown sad face over it being released and referred to it as ‘clearly offensive’. If it’s so clearly offensive why were your members making this video and why aren’t you disciplining them over it? Are you actually going to do anything about it?

“We pride ourselves on being an inclusive club. Most of our employees are female and in fact many of the volunteers that come to this club are female and I guess that in itself is a measure of our commitment to being an inclusive community club,” he said.

“We really take umbrage to the suggestion that’s been portrayed that this club is a club that treats women poorly or is disrespectful of women.”

Wayne Carey anyone? This isn’t happening just out of the blue, suddenly appearing from a club that has history of behaving well. They’ve attracted a lot of attention over the years in relation to their players behaviour around and towards women and in this case they really need to own up to that and admit that they’re learning and trying to get better. I’d prefer it if this kind of fucked up shit didn’t happen but if it does denying it isn’t going to change anything. This kind of statement takes attention away from the specific wrong made and tries to drag us all down into an argument about whether or not the club is evil or not. They’re not. But they’ve fucked up and they need to own up to this specific fuck up instead of playing the game of ‘stop tarring us all with one brush’.

Mr Arocca said the club was taking the matter “very seriously” but no criminal offences had been committed and players involved would not be named.

“I believe it’s a misguided, foolish, idiotic act, for that I don’t believe that at this stage we can go out and discipline players unless we make it a priority to educate them … if in the future this happens again there would be a far greater response from the club as far as individual players are concerned,” he said.

Then make it a priority to educate them! Discipline them so that they understand that their actions have consequences, that their behaviour was wrong and then teach them why it was wrong, why it has consequences, the wider global ramifications of their attitudes. That doesn’t seem so difficult, really. And ‘if it happens again’?! You’re willing to let it happen again?! You can see that that the attitudes of the players are such that this could possibly happen again!?! And you’re not willing to educate them to understand why this just isn’t acceptable?!

I’m sorry, but it’s almost like Arocca can’t see a problem with the behaviour of the players/members who made this video and that in itself is a massive problem. I don’t think that Arocca approves of the video or is happy about it at all. But his response seems skewed towards self protection and denial. Not only is that NOT what is needed right now, it’s going to mean that no change within the club or it’s members or players happens and that the men that made this video won’t realise the full extent and meaning of their actions.

This is an amazing opportunity for North Melbourne to take really positive action and grow, i’m disappointed that it looks like that isn’t going to be what happens.


8 Responses to “Misogyny in Football? Never! At least not according to North Melbourne…”

  1. It was a chicken. It is all a bit ridiculous. But that’s not to say that there isn’t a problem with footballer’s attitude towards women.

  2. datakid said

    au contraire Rev Shinboner, it’s bullshit.

    Overpaid young men treating women like objects is not a bit ridiculous, it’s offensive.

    Even more so because the league and all clubs have been made very very aware over the last few years, through the media, and the courts, that this type of behaviour and attitudes are out dated and unacceptable. The fact that it still happens is, to be polite, fucked. Not to mention the, one would think, very obvious parallels with what debacle the ARL north of the border experience with more frequency. Is extrapolation to hard? IT IS UNACCEPTABLE.

    If it’s an education problem, educate them. How hard can that be? Most clubs _have_ programs to help these guys with their finances and life and future planning, why is this not part of the curricular?

    fsckin’ pissed off roo fan.

  3. Datakid – have you actually seen the video? I was a bit shocked about the incident until I saw it. It is incredibly tame.

    And just in case you missed something, there were no women in it. It is a stretch to suggest that the video implied anything about objectifying women.

    And yes, there is an education program already in place. If you’re in any doubt about the sincerity of the apology from the players involved, have a look at Adam Simpson at yesterday’s media conference:

  4. Abe said

    Having just watched the video, I feel more perplexed that two grown men would actually take time to make something so unfunny. There were a few parts that bothered me, like when the rubber chicken and chicken carcass are shown having a drink (rubber chicken has beer, real chicken has glass of white wine hint hint), the next scene cuts to an absurd shot of the rubber chicken performing sexual acts on real chicken in the men’s bathroom. Although that scene offended me, it more confused me because I just didn’t get why anyone would find it funny. The Roo boys are not only guilty of being knuckle draggers, they are also guilty of having the sense of humor of thirteen year old,nim witted, boys.

  5. Nev said

    Educating their players may go a long way to educating their followers,

  6. caitlinate said

    @Rev Shinboner I don’t agree with you on the video but the Adam Simpson apology yesterday really, really impressed me. It signalled that maybe he really gets why people are upset and angry and has a genuine sense of remorse over the contents of the video. I hope the fact that he is a senior player means the younger players will be listening to what he’s said and following his lead.

  7. Arctic Firefox said

    I’ve been watching the dust settle on this in the hopes of gaining the broadest perspective possible, but all I see are more and more instances of misogyny on the many footy forums where fans flock to defend Simpson and Pratt.

    One of the many aspects of the video that disturbed me was the fact that the players used the rooster to communicate with the woman at the cash register in the supermarket (shaking or nodding its head in response to questions). I would not feel comfortable if someone was shaking a rubber rooster with a condom on its head at me.

    Jason Akermanis’s Herald Sun column defending the players the following week was one of the most pathetically-argued pieces I’ve read in a while. Not that I expected better.

  8. […] You’ll be wanting to bookmark this one. More from Caitlin, this time at The Dawn Chorus, in Misogyny in Football? Never! At least not according to North Melbourne…. Let’s all say it together, everyone… it’s not sex, it’s rape! Hoyden About Town’s […]

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