Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature

Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature
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Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature
Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature
Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Home : AFL Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature

 

 

A RAPE ALLEGATION?

IT'LL GALVANISE US - WE'RE FOOTBALLERS

Article published in the Age in 2004


In his column on the back page of the Age (Thursday 18 March 2004) Tim Watson began with the curious 'the past 48 hours has become a living nightmare' for St Kilda players and officials. Thereafter not once did he mention the emotional suffering of the alleged victim. With this simple sleight of hand he unwittingly reinforced many of the prejudices that beset women who 'cry rape.' Suddenly the alleged perpetrator had become the victim and it was women that were implicated if not blamed for allegations of rape. After all, how can young footballers avoid an allegation of rape when women are 'banging on your door at 2am'?

Seemingly oblivious to the circumstances of the current case Tim softened the allegations by recounting the antics of amorous women in the football subculture. Yet strangely none of the examples he offered had anything to do with rape. A woman consenting to sex is not a woman raped. Is it so hard for men to understand this? Where are the columns of women who have slept with footballers and in the post mortem have accused them of rape? Maybe Tim missed the fact that the woman making the rape allegation told police she consented to sex but not to sex with a second man? Leaving aside the veracity of this claim, in what culture is it assumed that if a woman has sex with a man in one room she has consented to sex with a different man on the same night?

Until the rape laws were changed a decade ago the courts virtually demanded to know whether a woman was a virgin or was sexually active. They even wanted to know what the woman was wearing when the rape occurred. And despite welcome changes to the law defence barristers still have a field day with women who allege rape. That's why rape is massively under reported and why only a very small percentage of rape cases result in a conviction. Women just aren't believed.

I wish Tim hadn't omitted what he and I know only too well about the football world. The stories of groups of men on the rampage, the cover-ups and the institutionalised belief that women who have sex are sluts whereas the men are studs: that's the football subculture. It's a subculture in which some men have always believed that they have the rights of the Viking raiding party. However, unlike the women raped by the Norsemen it seems that amorous women who wander through the football world can never be raped. For isn't the moral of Tim's piece that modern women who look for sex must take that which comes their way?

Instead of asking how these latest allegations will affect the status of AFL football we should be asking what they tell us about the emerging question of violence against women. Tim, this isn't a 'sex scandal.' A sex scandal is Charles having it off with Carmilla or Lady Di with the butler. A woman who alleges sexual assault is claiming to have been the victim of an act of criminal violence. If this woman is telling the truth, imagine how she must have felt when she discovered under the banner, 'Fans Rally to Saints', that coach Grant Thomas believes the allegation of rape will only 'galvanise the group'? The presumption of innocence of the accused shouldn't result in the belittling of a woman who alleges sexual assault

Throughout history men have told other men that 'no' can be a precursor to 'yes'. And through experience men have learnt that the first 'no' is not always the end of a sexual foray. But those who use this little pearl of secret men's business to defend men accused of rape do all men a disservice. Do we seriously think that the average bloke can't stop when a woman says 'no'? And is the average bloke so dumb that he doesn't know when 'no' means 'no'? It's about time we admitted that rape is a cocktail of sex and power used by some, not all men, against women.

Rape should be as hard to prove as any other crime. And no accused man should have to cower or hide. But that shouldn't preclude us from debunking the myth that most women who 'cry rape' are chronic liars and schemers who've maliciously changed their mind after a sexual encounter. Whether or not charges are laid in this instance the need for AFL clubs to seriously challenge this subculture of misogyny is overdue. Unlike many old fashioned blokes in AFL football clubs modern women know the difference between sex and rape.

Phil Cleary


 

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