The Dawn Chorus

Fresh Australian Feminism

Posts Tagged ‘football’

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 »

Montmorency Football Club & The Legal System

Posted by caitlinate on October 28, 2009

As I’m sure many of you have read, three junior members of the Montmerency Football Club – a suburban football club in Victoria – have been charged with the sexual assault of two young women. Thirteen other players were interviewed and the police say they expect to lay further charges. At the end of their playing season a group of young players had organised an unofficial weekend away to Phillip Island. **trigger warning** Whilst there they lured two women to the villa they had rented and held them prisoner whilst raping them. One woman was reportedly ‘sexually assaulted by as many as eight men’ and the other at least five different times. They finally escaped when a brawl broke out between the men and they could sneak away unnoticed.

I know that it is because it’s a high profile case (it appears sports teams raping women is in vogue for the media) but it is so exciting to see the police taking this crime seriously and the courts processing it quickly. Several women I know are still caught up in the legal system two years after their original assaults. One woman I know had to wait a year and a half before she even got a committal hearing. Rape and sexual assault cases frequently take years to be processed and, as I’m sure you can imagine or are aware, this is not an enjoyable process. It’s not as easy to move on and heal when you have a court date in two months… and then in five months… and then in a year… Apart from the waiting and the wondering there’s the potential – or at least fear – of having to see your abuser. A given part of the process is that you have to relive the experience of your assault over and over and over again – to the police, to the judge, to the lawyers, on paper, in person, via video link up. You have to be cruelly cross examined by the lawyer of the person who assaulted you (I state unequivocally, right now, that the majority of lawyers that represent rapists are fucking scumbags).

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in law, Media Watch, Politics, sexual assault, violence against women | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 22 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 »

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 »

Sam Newman Apologises For Offending… People

Posted by Clem Bastow on June 26, 2008

Sam Newman last night apologised in a fairly vague manner for his recent “behaviour” on The Footy Show (i.e. stapling a photo of Caroline Wilson’s face to a lingerie-clad mannequin and then groping it between the ‘legs’. Oh, and then calling the female AFL board members “liars and hypocrites”. And then…).

Here’s what he said on Channel Nine News:

“I’m sorry, I have obviously offended people, and for that I’m sorry,” Newman said on Channel 9 news last night.


He said counselling had helped him to see he could be abrasive, rude and arrogant.

“Can you believe that? You could knock me down with some plumage that people could think that about me.

“Maybe I could just moderate some of the things I do.”

Is it just me, or is that apology a bit non-specific? You would’ve thought that his borderline slandering of Dr Susan Alberti, Beverly Knight, Sally Capp, Peggy Haines and the five other female signatories who wrote to Nine calling for Newman to be counselled would surely deserve a separate, public apology.

The thing is, an apology was absolutely necessary in general, but to say he has “offended people” – well, the simple fact is that the majority of The Footy Show‘s viewers probably thought it was totally hilarious. I realise it’s just semantics but his apology is so vague it doesn’t really address why “people” were offended in the first place.

Meanwhile, this is what Herald Sun cartoonist Mark Knight has to say about it all:

Herald Sun cartoonist Mark Knight\'s take on the issue

Pretty telling, isn’t it? Poor old persecuted Sam, being attacked by those nasty women (zombie mannequins, if we are to take his Romero-esque title at face value) who are all the same, and just want to ruin his harmless fun. What’s your take on the whole mess?

Posted in Media Watch | Tagged: , , , | 4 Comments »