*Trigger warning – this post discusses sexual violence against women*
“Spida” who apparently is someone (or was someone) in the world of AFL, decides to blame women today for sexual assault and rape. He made his views, which were then instantly news, available on Twitter so that the rest of us could bask in his glorious wisdom and knowledge.
Specifically he said:
Yet another alleged girl, making alleged allegations, after she awoke with an alleged hangover and I take it an alleged guilty conscience
Girls!! When will you learn! At 3am when you are blind drunk & you decide to go home with a guy ITS NOT FOR A CUP OF MILO! Allegedly
Firstly I’m going to pick on his use of allege (and it’s forms) which is something that always bothers me. I think in this instance that Spida was attempting to be funny, because you know rape and sexual assault are hilarious. The “girl” (notice the infantilism here) is not an alleged person. An individual who makes a complaint about rape or sexual assault, is not an alleged person. You cannot make an alleged allegation, you make an allegation, the end. The next two uses of alleged work, though I am not at all happy how Spida’s implication.
The second tweet is disturbing. Spida clearly doesn’t understand consent and that when someone is blind drunk or affected severely by any substance that they cannot consent to sex. I’ll just quote CASA on this (from the ABC):
The comments have outraged Victoria’s Centre Against Sexual Assault, which has had input into the AFL’s Respect and Responsibility program.
Centre convenor Carolyn Worth says the AFL’s efforts to enforce respect for women are not working as well as they should.
“They’re insensitive comments, and apart from anything else they show a scant regard for the legal status of some things, because if you are actually blind drunk you can’t consent to sexual intercourse… ,” she said.
Spida realised that perhaps he’d not been as clear as he liked and he tweeted the following yesterday (5 tweets combined into 1 paragraph):
neil mitchell has taken poetic licence to interpret my words to mean I support matters regarding sexual offences in favour of the perpertrator. This is so far from the truth it is laughable. I can not and will not ever support female abuse in any manner or form my comments are solely aimed at warning females of the danger of being drunk or under the influence of drugs. I do not condone any actions that lead to or may lead to a sexual offence being committed. thank you!
So he then says he will never ever support “female abuse” whatever that means, and then proceeds into some victim blaming – women shouldn’t get drunk or use drugs because it is dangerous! Because men clearly cannot be held responsible for THEIR behaviour.
Sadly both AFL and the rugby codes in Australia have a history of sexual assault, rape and abuse of women. The AFL (and I assume the rugby codes as well) have instituted policies and programs to combat this, to educate players and was compulsory viewing with a questionnaire afterwards (and hopefully if anyone failed they were counselled).
The AFL made a similar interactive DVD in 2008 pertaining specifically to sexual matters. It was compulsory viewing for all league players, and included a multiple choice questionnaire.
At the time, the AFL’s Respect and Responsibility program co-ordinator, Melanie Heenan, said the DVD aimed to “prompt (the players’) confident decision-making in situations that can be quite complex.” (The Age)
I’m annoyed that someone like this gets given any air time, but at the same time I was really impressed with the smack-down that occurred in the media. Even the MX (who has been quite sexist in the past) quoted people and groups who believed that Spida’s statements were wrong and condoned assault. In my opinion AFL players should stick to commenting on football and should not be allowed to speak about anything else unless they pass a test showing an understanding of the topic and the effects of what they’re going to say.
UPDATE: Apparently Spida appeared on Kerri-Anne Kennaley’s show this morning and they both engaged in some victim blaming with Kerri-Anne calling women who associate with footballers “strays”. The comments on the article were closed fairly quickly and were heavily moderated (unsurprisingly).
UPDATE: I’m loving John Silvester’s article in The Age about how people should stop victim blaming.