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AFL player not convicted or charged, no one faints from surprise

Posted by caitlinate on January 29, 2011

Reading the (online) paper this morning, I saw that two Collingwood AFL players have been cleared of sexual assault charges by police. I don’t know very much about that case and don’t really want to say anything specific about it. More, it made me think about whether I could recall a single case where a football player had ever actually been convicted.

I can think of lots of cases where yet another football player has raped or sexually assaulted a woman. This seems to happen quite a lot. But I can’t think of a single time I’ve heard of a player being convicted of the charges laid against them. It seems I am more likely to read about police dropping charges, police not pursuing charges and the DPP not pursuing a hearing. What the hell is going on? Are players being convicted on the quiet or is there really a pattern of no convictions recorded against any footballers on rape or sexual assault charges? If I can think of five different instances of a footballer player raping or sexual assaulting someone last year I can only imagine how many other instances of this occurred. So why aren’t any of the perpetrators ever having to take responsibility for their actions? A few weeks suspended from the club and then a loud welcome back into the bro-hood does not = taking responsibility. How many women don’t come forward with what happened to them because they know nothing will be done? How many do come forward and are ignored, or are paid for their silence? Is it really true that we don’t hold AFL footballers accountable for their actions and their violence towards women?

I recognise that statistics for prosecution against non-AFL perpetrators aren’t exactly high. But for there to have not been a single successful prosecution of an AFL player for sexual assault ever – or at least in recent history – makes it seem like there is something more than your standard victim-blaming hetero-patriarchy happening here. I know that there are groups and organisations and individuals working with football players to try and teach them that, you know, sexually assaulting people is wrong. I know that the AFL and clubs are – publicly at least – trying to change the culture within football to eradicate this kind of behaviour. I would really like to believe that there is something changing. That these players are getting it into their thick skulls that rape and sexual assault are not okay, that treating women like your property is not okay, that consent is a really great thing. But I also wonder how well that message can sink in when at the same time all these (generally speaking) able bodied, heterosexual, white men are worshipped as heroes and given status, prestige and a lot of money. When they are repeatedly told that what they do for a few months a year is really important and should be taken really seriously at the exclusion of all else. When, every week, hundreds of thousands of people all over the country agree. The sense of entitlement these guys would be walking around with, the exaggerated sense of entitlement they display, is astounding but in the end, not really so surprising.

I’m not advocating for these dudes to all go to prison. I don’t think sending people to prison is going to solve rape or is going to actually stop any person – footballer or not – from raping another. I also don’t think that the people with the power to imprison others even have the fucking right to do so in these cases, considering their culpability in protecting rape culture. Cops, judges and AFL officials have repeatedly shown scant respect for the law or for the people who have been assaulted – far too impressed by the glory of the football player, far too invested in protecting these symbols of white patriarchal heterosexuality. The amount of effort that goes into protecting these players from being adults and taking responsibility for their actions is staggering:

Former detective Sen-Det Scott Gladman claims that a 2004 rape charge against Saints star Stephen Milne collapsed amid a campaign of threats and intimidation from inside Victoria Police and by powerful club backers.


The woman, known only as Kate, claims that in 1999 police waited two days before visiting the crime scene, failed to get the suspect’s DNA, and records of his interview with police disappeared. Kate has told ABC1’s 7:30 Report program while she has now reached a confidential settlement, she was originally offered $20,000 to keep quiet. Victoria Police declined to be interviewed because it says it cannot comment on any payments because of strict confidentiality clauses. The allegations come two months after former Carlton president John Elliott said the club had paid hush money to women who claimed they had been assaulted or raped by its players.


In 2007 Brodie Holland was fined $2,500 for his role in a fight with a young woman over a taxi cab. After Hollands fiancee was involved in a scuffle with the woman, Holland approached calling the woman a “stupid slut” before trying to tackle her, placing her in a headlock after which she bit him on the stomach, before striking her in the head with his fist. His court appearance was pushed back on two occasions so not to clash with his football commitments; once he faced court no conviction was recorded and no punishment handed out from his club, Collingwood.


The uncensored contract, obtained by AAP on Tuesday, states that Victoria Police could not comment on its own investigations into any AFL player, coach, board member or even staff without consulting the league. The football body was also given permission to “investigate matters of illegal betting” and other serious crimes from drug trafficking and domestic violence to sexual assaults. The police-AFL “relationship” was struck so both could investigate “any criminal activity that would be prejudicial to the interests of the AFL”, the contract says.


I think these men as individuals need to be taking responsibility for their actions, yes. This needs to not just be going to court and trying to avoid a sentence. It needs to not just be letting some gender studies lecturers from your local university come down and ignoring them while they explain to you why what you’re doing isn’t okay. It needs to be footballers finding ways within themselves and within the macho, football-centric social groups they are a part of to break down these ideas and attitudes that cause so much harm. Not waiting for other people to solve it for them but actually recognising what’s going on and doing something to change it. It needs to be AFL footaballers taking responsibility as a whole.

But it’s not just them. The clubs and the league and the coaches and everyone directly involved with AFL needs to be taking and continuing to take responsibility for what they encourage. I think that the legal system either needs to stop pretending to believe in the equal rule of law or actually apply it. And I think everyone who loves a team or loves the sport and spends several months a year telling a bunch of men with a ball that they are fucking awesome, that they are fucking heroes, that they are winners and champions and great, that what they are doing is important, that what they do is taken very seriously; I think those people need to think about what kind of culture it is they are actually supporting and what they can do to challenge it.


Posted in sexual assault, Sport, violence against women | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Lovett Rape Hearing: Once Again A Woman Is Asked What She Was Wearing

Posted by Clem Bastow on August 13, 2010

It’s a grim fact of life, it seems, that whenever a high-profile – or even one that doesn’t involve “celebrities” – rape hearing or trial is underway, details will emerge about the cross-examining of the alleged victim that are enough to lead you to think it’s not actually the 21st century, and instead 1950.

As the hearing regarding the alleged rape of the woman by sacked St Kilda Saints player Andrew Lovett continues, the media was today given access to the woman’s statement and a transcript of her cross examination – and what a surprise it was to read this detail:

Under cross-examination on Tuesday from Lovett’s defence counsel David Grace, QC, the woman agreed that on the night she met Lovett, she wanted to make herself look attractive and was interested in meeting men.

She agreed that she drank four vodka, lime and sodas and two shots at the Royal Saxon hotel that night but said she did not intend to get drunk.

Let me break this down very clearly to those who still, as it appears the defence counsel does, subscribe to archaic notions of what clothing or behaviour blurs the lines of what sexual behaviour is acceptable on the part of men:


Posted in law, Media Watch, Sex Crimes, sexual assault, Sport, violence against women | 7 Comments »

Lara Bingle, Michael Clarke and Peter Roebuck sitting in a tree

Posted by Katie Olsen on March 10, 2010

From The Age article by Roebuck

The Age online today published another in the list of its growing collection of out-dated and apparently un-subbed features. And it wasn’t even in Ask Sam or Essential Baby, it was right there on the front page (by Peter Roebuck): “Michael Clarke needs to choose between a fraught personal life and his career in cricket.” As far as pullquotes go, that one is a doozie.

Firstly, it was amazing to see that for the first time this reader of The Age has ever seen such an old fashioned denial of ‘having it all’ directed at a man. Rife in Australia (and echoed in rom-coms, chick flicks, chick lit, and other rhyming forms of entertainment) is the belief that for a woman to be super successful in her career she must sacrifice. Sacrifice any chance of a functioning marriage (certainly no man could want to be groom to some power-suited, heartless, soulless, manlike Career Woman); sacrifice a family (not enough hours in the day to hug a child and write emails); sacrifice her looks (surely one can’t be both attractive and clever unless witchcraft is involved). This was the first time a man was told he had to sacrifice. So I clicked and read the rest of the article. Speculation and sexism ensued.

“He [Clarke] is locked into a love affair with a beautiful young woman…. Lara Bingle stumbles from public relations disaster to public relations calamity. Restaurateurs complain about her manners and the poor company she keeps. Fashionistas talk of her headstrong ways and dubious customs. Moreover she seems intent on boosting the sales of all those magazines purchased by the female of the species. In short, she craves attention and courts controversy. Yet Michael, the class act of the pairing, seems besotted. Beauty and danger have always been a potent combination.”

“She stumbles from public relations disaster to public relations calamity” – seems unfair: the cancelling of the Where The Bloody Hell Are You? campaign wasn’t her fault, she didn’t write the script; and she certainly wasn’t to blame for Fevola’s behaviour int the camera phone fiasco. “Locked in”? “Beauty and danger”? He may as well have called her a Black Widow and Photoshopped a Scarlet Letter on her image. The unsubstantiated claims about her manners and “dubious customs” have little or nothing to do with the Fevola scandal or Clarke and Bingle’s relationship and have no place on the homepage of a newspaper. Adding that Clarke is the “class act” of the coupling was just another immature and transparent dig.

But it gets better (read: worse).

“Maturity is the issue. From a distance the romance has all the traits of a schoolboy crush. Clarke has scored a stack of runs for his country, has travelled to many places, has seen and done a lot, has become accomplished. By now gilded youth ought to have given way to adult sensibility. Perhaps it has. Perhaps the problem is that Bingle remains the same waif-like figure supposedly in need of protection.”

So not only is Bingle a media whore, she’s also damsel in distress and Clarke is apparently some egghead sports-dude who has succumbed to her feminine wiles. As somebody who very rarely pays attention to the good bits of sport in Australia, even this moi can see that aside from being sexist, it’s neither an educated nor researched argument. All we know is that Clarke left a sports game to be with his fiance, whatever the reason. Quite the opposite of being some weak little boy, isn’t Clarke being a Real Life Grown Up by supporting his partner?

And then: “Her chivalrous partner rode to her rescue. Nothing in her life, though, suggests that she has ever emerged from the chrysalis of youthful beauty. It’s a dilemma. Clarke yearns to fulfil himself yet remains in thrall to a lass living in a celebrity time warp.”

Just, WOW. Mostly I like how he not only used the word “lass” but then accused her of being in a “time warp”. Oh irony, missed you. PS. You misspelled ‘fulfill’. [I’m wrong, that’s the American spelling. My bad.]

In his article, Roebuck has painted Bingle (who may or may not be intelligent, kind, funny, whatever – we don’t know and doubt he does either) as a femme fatale, a Jezebel, an unstable, untrustworthy, unworthy, hysterical woman. Clarke got off lightly, he’s just been reduced to an juvenile simpleton who has been caught in a spider’s web, driven only by sexual desire and a Prince Charming complex.

What’s bigger than a trifecta? Quinella? Whatever it is, Roebuck got one in the worst possible way.

UPDATE: Here’s another charming screen-grab from The Age. Nice Photoshopping. From 11th March.

11th March 2010

Posted in Media Watch, Sport, Uncategorized | 20 Comments »

Rugby rapists and other sexual offenders

Posted by Cate on May 12, 2009

I’m sure I was the only one sickened when I watched Four Corner’s report into sexual violence against women by players and coaches in National Rugby League. I won’t detail the specific offences, I was distressed enough watching the program to be completely frank, as a victim of sexual violence myself. But I would encourage all Dawn Chorus readers to watch the program on the Four Corners website.  I’m struggling to write anything at all, as the images of the program play out in my head. I hope our readers will be kind towards my disjointed thoughts. I will hopefully add some more cohesive updates.

A few points that I’ve been thinking about…

I find the notion of group sex as an acceptable ‘bonding experience amongst men’ quite bizarre and can see it as little more than exerting physical power against women. Is this practiced (anecdotally or otherwise) amongst other groups of men in society? Surely the watchers of such acts are as implicated as the direct perpertraitors. The notion of consent in such an environment is surely, laughable.

What is the real impact of an apology? Apologising for embarrassing one’s wife is not the same as apologising for destroying the emotional psyche of another human being. An apology cannot be equated with restitution.

Many of these events were looked at by police many years ago and no charges were laid. How many more women will come forward, preferring the media as their vehicle for justice over  the judicial?-

What role did women play? A woman was interviewed who was effectively a match maker between players and fans. She viewed a video of sexual violence (filmed on someone’s phone) yet continued such matchmaking.  

I was pleased to see training for rugby players about consent and sexual violence but despair that such training is necessary at all.  Such ‘education programs’ further perpetrait the notion that acts of sexual violence can be attributed to a lack of knowledge or willful ignorance of what constitutes sexual assault or consent. Surely respect for women at a deep internal level is not something which can be taught. Further, I shudder to think how one tabulates whether such programs reduce the instances of sexual assault against women.

The article is noticeably absent on the front page of the Herald Sun website

Posted in Media Watch, Sex Crimes, sexual assault, Sport, violence against women | Tagged: , | 25 Comments »

Damir Dokic: Hitting Jelena Was “For Her Sake”

Posted by Clem Bastow on May 7, 2009

I’m sure I’m not the only person who was pleased to see Jelena Dokic’s comeback (and to have her come back to Australia) at this year’s Australian Open, particularly in light of her treatment at the hands of her father and “coach”, Damir; to see her remove herself from that situation and go on to professional and personal triumph was inspiring.

Well, now that Jelena has recently told of the physical abuse she suffered at the hands of her father in addition to the bellowing and belittling that came to be known as Damir’s horrible trademark, naturally Damir has had to have his two cents, since he evidently lives in a magical world where violent men actually have a right of reply when their abuse is revealed:

“If I was ever a little bit more aggressive towards Jelena, it was for her sake,” Mr Dokic told the Serbian newspaper Vecernje Novosti.

In the latest Sport & Style magazine, published in The Age this week, the tennis star spoke in detail about the trauma her father caused and how she fled her family home in October 2002.

“When I was young, I was beaten by my parents,” Mr Dokic said, “and I am now thankful to them for that, because that helped me to become the right person. Anyway, is there any parent who didn’t do that at least once or twice — of course, for the sake of their children?”

That’s right, Damir – what frightened young girl hasn’t been beaten by and bellowed at by her father in order to keep her hitting those aces? Obviously Damir’s rantings are the sort of quote-fests the tabloids live for, but sometimes I question the value of allowing known abusers to speak freely about their crimes in this manner. I’m inclined to think that stories like these send an unfortunate message to women (or indeed, anyone) who’ve been abused, in essence that what they’ve suffered is terrible… but you know, we ought to let their abuser share their side of the story, too. What are your thoughts?

Posted in Celebrity, Family, Media Watch, Sport, violence against women | Tagged: , , , , , | 8 Comments »

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.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Sport, violence against women | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

(Young) Women We Love: “Sammy Sumo”

Posted by Clem Bastow on October 13, 2008

No doubt sports fans will have read this morning of Australia’s first medal in the sport of sumo wrestling for over fifteen years, won by Gold Coast teenager Samantha-Jane Stacey – dubbbed “Sammy Sumo” by her friends – who not only won Silver at the World Sumo Championships, but did so with a badly sprained ankle!

Australian Sumo Federation president Katrina Watt spoke to The Bulletin from the championships in Estonia yesterday and said the result was fantastic.

“We are so impressed with the result and she’s only 14 so she has four more years in the junior division … maybe next time we’ll hear Advance Australia Fair,” she said.

“We haven’t had a medal since 1992 so we are so happy.”

Top work, Sammy!

Posted in Media Watch, Sport | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Sunrise Asks Its Viewers: “Are Women To Blame For Footballers Behaving Badly?”

Posted by Clem Bastow on October 6, 2008

Thanks to keen-eyed and early-rising reader Christine for the heads up on this little doozy: Channel Seven’s Sunrise (those storied social justice merchants) chose for their “soapbox” topic this morning, “Are Women To Blame For Footballers Behaving Badly?

I missed the on-air discussion so can make no comment about that, but here’s the website’s slug:

Scandals plagued all codes of football in Australia in the last year.

The worst incidents gaining national coverage were often blamed on alcohol or drug abuse, but could the women around the footballers be to blame?

A study called “Rogue men and predatory women – female fans’ perceptions of Australian footballers’ sexual conduct” has just been published in a Sociology journal with very revealing findings.

That introductory paragraph doesn’t bode well for the findings, does it? Said research revealed the following:

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Media Watch, Politics, Sex And Love, Sport | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Beach-Fest: Volleyball’s Uniform Disparity Strikes Again

Posted by Clem Bastow on August 19, 2008

Even the most casual viewer of the past few Olympics would likely have noticed the vast difference between men’s and women’s uniforms at the Games, and nowhere is this more apparent than on the beach volleyball field. The women wear tiny bikini-esque get-ups while the men dress in roomy Eddie Vedder-esque “big shorts” and a basketball singlet. If it’s so hot and sweaty on the beach (which is traditionally the excuse given for the ladies’ micro uniforms), how on earth can the blokes stand the heat?

Here are some of Sunday Mail blogger Clementine Ford’s thoughts on the topic:

[L]et’s not be fooled here. The sheer skimpiness of the bottoms themselves has nothing to do with player comfort. If it did, men would be required to wear similar outfits. Clearly, the swathes of material dudes practically bathe in while out on the court are doing nothing to hinder performance.

The bikini uniform is a marketing strategy that revolves around T & A. It’s what’s helped propel BV to the number 3 of most watched Olympics sports. Let’s ignore for a moment the clear violation of everything scientists have taught us about skin cancer. For better or worse, beach volleyball is an elite sport with hard working athletes who train tirelessly to be the best in the world. It is not (or should not be) a glorified skin fest whose only purpose is to titillate a drooling (mostly male) public.

Disappointingly – and yet, somewhat unsurprisingly – the blog was then flooded with comments of the “you’re just jealous” variety (she details some of the worst over at her non-work blog) as stunningly original critics (and, presumably, beach volleyball fans) accused Ford of being “jealous” of the players.

But when even Today Tonight is asking what’s up with the teeny bikinis, surely something’s got to give?

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Blog Watch, body image, Media Watch, Sport | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Hypocrite Károlyi Points Finger At Underage Chinese Gymnasts

Posted by Sara Lewis on August 14, 2008

Chinese womens artistic gymnastics Olympic team, Beijing 2008

Chinese women's artistic gymnastics Olympic team, Beijing 2008

As if there wasn’t enough for us all to be complaining about with regard to the Beijing Olympics already, ex-U.S. women’s gymnastics coach Béla Károlyi (best known for coaching Nadia Comaneci to the first official ‘perfect ten’ score at the 1976 Montreal Olympics, and now an NBC commentator for the current Olympics), has come out with a pearler.

In light of the recent media circus surrounding the age of various members of the Chinese women’s gymnastics team, Károlyi has been making narky comments on air, calling the girls “half-people” and kicking up a stink about the unfair acceptance of supposedly fake passports that, he propounds, falsely verified several of the Chinese gymnasts as being over sixteen years of age.

I don’t doubt for a second that Károlyi is right (especially considering the fact that young He Kexin’s birth date is recorded as being on January 1, 1992 – fishy, much?), but what troubles me is his audacity in delivering such accusatory comments from such a blatantly hypocritical subject position. The success of Károlyi, superstar of women’s gymnastics coaching in both Romania and the United States, has not been without its own controversy. Károlyi has been accused of starving his gymnasts, verbally and psychologically abusing them, as well as making them compete even with injuries as serious as broken bones. Perhaps a perfect example of this is the success of the Atlanta 96’s U.S. women’s gymnastics dream-team, the ‘Magnificent Seven‘, largely due to Kerri Strug’s final effort in carrying them to gold after completing her vault rotation on a severely injured ankle. Béla was quoted by ESPN as saying to Strug at the time “Kerri, we need you to go one more time. We need you one more time for the gold”. What’s more is that Time magazine online have quoted Károlyi in the past as having admitted to faking birth dates in his native Romania to allow underage gymnasts to perform.

So who is the medal-hungry Károlyi’s pot to call the medal-hungry Chinese kettle black?

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in body image, events, Sport, Women's Health | Tagged: , , , , , , | 29 Comments »