Fine Lines and Big Leaps

This column is generally reserved for the sacred discussion of celebrity folly and its voracious consumers, but this week I wanted to use it as a platform to address something a little different. And considering the godly status we attribute to our athletes in this country, and that at the centre of the debacle I am going to attempt to make some sense of is a well known Australian celebrity, I feel it’s rather fitting.

By now, unless you deliberately avoid all media outlets or have been sleeping for ten days straight, you would have heard about the Four Corners episode that aired on Monday night, Code of Silence, looking at the sex culture in Rugby League. You would have also heard that Matthew Johns has been stood down indefinitely from his role on The Footy Show and suspended from his coaching duties with Melbourne Storm. You probably also would have watched his interview with Tracy Grimshaw on A Current Affair. Shit has hit the fan, and it’s about time.


When I watched Code of Silence, I wasn’t surprised. Disgusted, yes. Surprised, no. And if you were surprised at the culture of misogyny that exists within NRL, then wake up. It’s there, it has been for years, and it has manifested itself in many ugly, reprehensible situations. It has also been enabled and swept under the rug, like a sort of dirty little secret everyone knows but no one talks about. Group sex as a means of bonding has always existed in Rugby League, according to former coach Roy Masters, who stopped short of saying it still does now, although if ‘now’ extends to include the past five years then I think it’s safe to say it does indeed happen now. In fact, many doubt it will ever be phased out, and think attempts to eradicate it are unfair and discriminatory.

On deciding to turn this week’s column over to the whole NRL palaver, I did find myself wondering whether I’d be saying or discussing anything new. A lot has already been said. There are many angles to the entire discussion, and most have been exhausted. The bottom line is the NRL has a big problem with its culture. Disgusting things have been done and said by the athletes it is home to. It is apparently taking measures to right these wrongs and ensure they don’t happen in the future.

But. Something keeps niggling.

In the aftermath of the Four Corners program, and the A Current Affair interview with Matthew Johns, the threads to many discussions taking place have been a little disturbing. Disturbing for what they are, and disturbing in that they seem to represent a greater problem than that confined to the NRL. They seem to be representing greater social norms and values, concepts and perceptions that run so deep as to provide a foundation that allowed for this beast of an NRL problem to develop as it did.

The notion of she wants it (she wants it, she wants it, I’m gonna give it to her) is all pervasive. It doesn’t just exist in the league culture, it exists everywhere. She wore a short skirt, she was asking for it. She shouldn’t have gone home with him, she was asking for it. She was drunk, she was asking for it. The idea of a girl ‘wanting it’ is one of the biggest problems with rape. It singlehandedly removes responsibility from the perpetrator and conditions women to blame themselves for what they ‘let’ happen to them.

Add to that the common idea that women are ‘lucky’ to sleep with a football player, and the terror, as expressed by victims of sexual harassment and assault in Code of Silence, at the concept of going to the police and thus going up against the NRL, the club, the players and the fans, and we have ourselves a huge problem that just won’t go away. The players don’t see a problem with it and the women don’t feel they can speak up about it. And, when they do, as history has shown, nothing comes of it.

The inability to read a situation for what it is – degrading, offensive, traumatic – is perhaps what lies at the root of it all. Football players are sought out by women because they have a high profile, that’s not their fault. No, it’s not their fault, and yes women do seek them out. Yes, women do want to have sex with them. But there is a big leap to be made from a woman wanting to have sex with you, and a woman wanting to have sex with you and ten of your mates. At some point, boys, you have to step back and think, ‘hmmm what’s wrong with this picture?’ Perhaps it would help if you looked at the woman, but don’t worry about it if that humanizes her and makes the situation a little less palatable for you.

NRL has acknowledged they have a problem – they were somewhat forced to in the wake of the 2004 Bulldogs gang rape allegations – and the players now attend How to Treat Women workshops. They also learn the alphabet when they’re not trying to figure out what is wrong with tricking a girl into sleeping with not the one guy she consented to, but the other guy waiting in the other bedroom as well.

It was footage of these workshops, as shown in Code of Silence that was perhaps most effective in conveying the attitudes that are home to this festering sex culture. It was also highly depressing. Firstly, they were shown a video depicting a drunk girl and two football players stumbling into an apartment. She wants to have sex with one player, they go off into a bedroom. He sneaks out and ushers his waiting mate into the bedroom. Later she comes running out, horrified, and exits the room yelling something about only wanting to have sex with him. So, the enthusiastic mentor asked, what’s the problem? A sea of bemused faces greeted that question. Will these players get into trouble? Emphatic nods. Depends how good his lawyer is. Were they doing something wrong? Ooh, there’s a hand. The girl was drunk. She put out first. Right. Enthusiastic mentor pops this on the board with a marker.

The second video depicted homosexual rape, or more accurately, a man waking up after the fact and realizing what has happened. A sea of aghast faces greeted this. No lawyer quips, no confusion over whether or not what had happened was wrong. Oh, there’s a hand. No matter how drunk he is, no bloke deserves to get raped by another bloke. Emphatic nods. Right. Enthusiastic mentor goes to pop this one the board with a marker then turns around and begs them all to see the double standard sitting in the room wearing an elephant suit.

Later, a football player would give some sage words of advice to the camera. He’d say, all these group sex problems could be avoided if they’d put the girl in a cab afterwards. Cover all that sort of stuff up. You know, it’s not what you do at the time, it’s how you treat her afterwards. You’re right, everything can be solved by popping her in a cab. Someone get this man a beer.

Perhaps when the boys finish their ‘How to Treat Women’ classes and, hopefully, pass their exams, they can take the second year subject, ‘How to develop Common Decency.’ And maybe they can take ‘What is a Woman?’ for extra credit. And in that workshop, perhaps they can look at two issues that seem to lie at the core of their stunted concepts of and attitudes toward women. Consenting to one man isn’t consenting to ten, no matter how close you and your mates are. And her not saying no doesn’t equate to her being a ‘willing participant’. Sometimes, and I’d go so far as to say having a football team queuing up at the foot of a bed in a strange hotel room waiting for you to have sex with them might be one of these occasions, words fail you.

In the aftermath of the Four Corners episode, public attention has turned to Matthew Johns, the loveable rogue TV personality, star of The Footy Show. Johns was involved in the 2002 New Zealand incident and named as one of the men who slept with the girl who has come to be known only as Clare. He has been stood down from his coaching position with Melbourne Storm and Channel 9, home of The Footy Show, has severed ties with him.

A journalist friend of mine who works in television has said her work has received an overwhelming amount of emails about the situation. Many are from women and many are expressing a great deal of sympathy for Johns. ‘Now I hate rape, it’s terrible but … why should he suffer? Why is it coming out now, after all this time? Why should he be singled out? This isn’t fair.’

Here’s why he should be singled out. He chose a career in the public eye, enjoying a multi-million dollar television career. He chose to mould himself into a representative of the sport. Hell, he is, or was, the face of the sport, starring in a million dollar campaign to attract more, presumably aggressive and risk taking, males to the sport. He is a man many, many people look up to – current and prospective players and countless fans. He did a terrible thing which, at the time, was inadequately dealt with. He should face the music, even if it is years after the fact – that’s irrelevant – and the noises we should be hearing from the public should be those of agreement. He should not be commended for acting the way he is, he should be expected to act the way he is. He isn’t doing something gracious, he is doing something that is the least he can do.

I am not going to sit here and join in the ‘good on him’ back patting bullshit. It’s not good on him. It was never good on him. Yes he was one of apparently ten or more men. Is it fair that only he cops the public vitriol? No, it probably isn’t fair. And none of the men involved in the incident have come forward, which speaks volumes. But shit happens. The level of consequence Johns has to face is public because he is a public personality.

He claims she was a willing participant. Oddly, as a woman, I find that hard to believe. I find it hard to believe a nineteen year old was a-ok with group sex with a football team of strange men. In her words, ‘massive big rugby players.’ In her words ‘I didn’t know what to do.’ Fair enough. I don’t think many nineteen year olds would. And, hey, here’s a little newsflash for you. Just because she consented to having sex with you, even you and your buddy – that doesn’t mean you blow the whistle and call the boys in. And even if you didn’t blow the whistle and call the boys in, even if they climbed in through the bathroom window (wait a second, I actually think they did) you should have stopped it. You should have been able to see that something wasn’t right with the situation you were not only witnessing, but partaking in. One girl, one young girl and a room full of rugby league players. What do you think she was feeling? At the very least, vulnerable. At the very least uncertain. At the very least, scared. A willing participant? Or a girl that was too terrified to say no and ask you all to leave. It’s a fine, fine line, apparently.

I wonder if Matthew would ever want his daughter to be in that girl’s position. And if she ever was, and if a man said to him after the fact, she was a willing participant, would he believe him?

Trish Johns, his wife, who had to throw up after the interview with A Current Affair, said his greatest crime was actually being unfaithful to his wife.

No, his greatest crime was ever thinking, at the age of thirty, that what happened in that hotel room in 2002 was okay. Or perhaps his greatest crime wasn’t thinking at all. Not being able to see a situation for what it was – degrading, dehumanizing and, for one young girl, beyond what she could psychologically cope with. That was his greatest crime.

When Matthew Johns made his preemptive apology last week, before Code of Silence aired, he was clapped on the back by co-presenter and former player Fatty Vautin, who then said, ‘okay mate, on with the show.’

Perhaps not this time.


Girls and guys, there is so, so much more to this discussion. I have been talking endlessly with people about it for the past few days and some extraordinary insights have been made, not just into the League culture, but into the broader culture it stems from.

There is so much I wasn’t able to cram into this column. Why does league have this problem ostensibly more than any other sport? How has this deplorable culture been left to fester in a sport we throw money at, shower with adoration? Alcohol was mentioned a lot in Code of Silence, as was the term ‘risk-taking male’. Is it purely the bad mix of aggressive men and alcohol?

The only way we can start to change problems like these, is to understand them. Where they come from and why. And the only way we can do that is through open discussion. I am handing the floor over …

48 thoughts on “Fine Lines and Big Leaps

  1. Such a massive issue. I’ll be upfront: I have no interest in NRL. I never have, and coming from Victoria where NRL is so small compared to AFL, it’s not a sport I can find myself becoming interested in. There seems to be a culture that exists, not just in NRL but also in general society, that seems to think doing these things to women is ok, because some women deserve it. That is a huge problem and more is needed to fix, and entirely eradicate, that thought. Does NRL have an image problem? Indeed. Everyone I know and discuss this with is like me; dislikes NRL and thinks that the men who play it are ogre-like – devoid of brains and personality, pumped with testosterone and steroids and are only good for running out onto a field and running into each other. If the NRL wants more followers, it’ll need a better image. Full stop. It’ll need to give people a reason to enjoy, or get involved with, a sport and sportsmen so few of us can relate to.

    I wonder how these men would feel if the same thing happened to their sister? Mother? Girlfriend? Daughter?

    The idea, put forward by the coaches in Four Corners, that you can’t leave aggression on the field is utter rubbish.

    The whole situation is rubbish. A big, bad boys’ club protecting each other from the real truth – and the longer this culture is allowed to exist, the longer it will in general society.

    It’s never ok to do what these men have done. Even if the girl waved a flag saying ‘have me’, common decency (as Liv states) and courtesy should still exist. And that’s the problem. These men have none.

  2. Great column – spot on.

    Interesting point I heard was that back in the ‘day’ (distant memory, foggy dream) when sportsmen weren’t valued in the million dollar mark, they had to genuinely earn a wage on the side. This meant they remained a part of the normal community, with standards that would make any mere mortal that did something like Johns did an outcast (if not a criminal). It is quite remarkable that people can now be paid so much money for running into each other as fast as possible. On a much broader note, the way we worship athletes needs to be seriously re-evaluated – if you place people on a pedestal, there’s the chance they might be stupid enough to think that puts them above the law as well.

  3. Wow Liv. Powerful piece on an explosive topic…and that’s what blows me away. Why is this an explosive topic? It’s cut and dry, black and white.
    …for me this is similar -on a different scale of another problem- to the Bill Henson hypocrisy…we freak out at Miley Cyrus photographed by Annie Liebowitz for Vanity Fair but….it’s okay if it’s art?

    I firmly believe that league attracts a certain mentality…it’s not the game creating the mentality. Thugby league, from what I can be bothered to understand is a game that requires speed and no skill, the ability to hold a ball but not the ability to hold on to it. It’s all about the big bang. No big picture decision making, no strategy, no finesse, no brains, no brawn either.
    As a code of sport, I dislike it. As a code that spews out males who obviously think foreplay is the game before the ‘sport’, I am just left perplexed. Where are the mothers, the sisters, the wives, the girlfriends, the friends? Do league players not have any?

    In Rugby Union…it is law that aggression is left on the field.. and it’s controlled aggression on field. Do not even start me on those grubby converts. Way out of their league.

    As you say the only way to solve problems like these is to understand them. Look, I’m all about peace, just ask my boxing coach…but sometimes… grrr.. powerful piece Olivia. Am actually seething.

  4. I enjoyed reading your column except that I found it one sided. I dont understand why this girl from New Zealand is digging up the past. C’mon it happened seven years ago and the matter was dealt with by the police with no case to answer to. Your right, she didn’t deserve to be taken advantage of by the whole team but at no time did she say STOP or NO so who’s to say what they have done is wrong? Were you there in the bedroom? Did you actually see what happened? How many times when you pick up a girl do they specifically say ‘yes you can have sexual intercourse with me’? Sometimes it just organically happens. I believe she is digging the past up because she feels entitlement to some sort of compensation. Now that Matthew Johns is a well known celebrity and I assume is making some good cash she wants a piece of the action. It reminds of the famous soccer player Ronaldo from Brazil who picked up two women in Rio. When they turned out to be men and tried to blackmail him or risk going to the press Ronaldo told them to “get lost” so the transvestites took their photos to the press and damaged Ronaldo’s reputation. Could this same sequence of events have happened to Matthew Johns. Did she want some money from Matthew and when he declined she took it to the press? Now I dont care about this girl, for all I care she wanted it. Like Sharmane said on the Four Corners Program there are girls out there who go looking for football players. But as a result my Thursday nights have been wrecked because Matty or Reg was the Footy Show and I have watched it for the last 15 years and now I fear without his humour and intelligence the Footy Show will not survive. And that is the real tragedy in this story!

  5. Newcastle Knights CEO Steve Burraston said “…we attract an agressive young risk-taking male…we give them a shower, put a suit on them and then say now we want you to be a, you know, submissive male…it’s very difficult to do that” – give me a break, these guys are old enough to see and know the difference between the football field and society/life. And the education these guys get on how to treat a woman, FFS it is just common decency – you shouldn’t have to go to school to learn this! These guys should not be royalised by the media and their fans and the clubs and sponsors should not be paying them big bucks.

    Great piece Liv – most of us (apart from the bogon supporters of the NRL and Matthew Johns) just as passionately feel the same way about this issue and wholeheartedly agree with you!

  6. OK, what ever you do, please don’t rope normal guys like me in with the thugs who play NRL.

    I think there’s something seriously wrong with the guy – in fact with all of them in that room.

  7. Am I the only one who sees the glaring hypocrisy in all this??

    Two things have lead our society to this point (and pointing these things out isn’t going to win me any friends) and they are: the sexual liberation and feminism.

    Now, speaking of the second first. I do not for a moment want to condemn the many good things that feminism has accomplished in our society. I do indeed think that women have every right to vote, earn equal pay and not be treated of lesser worth as human beings. The fight that feminism has brought to these issues is to be applauded.

    However it has also crossed a line in creating a sense of “I am strong, I am invincible, I am woman” mindset in many women today. You need look no further than the distraught woman on Four Corners to see that this is complete garbage. Women are physically weaker than men (on average at least), they need to be protected from men who would harm them (physically, sexually or otherwise). But feminism has created a social structure where this protection is to come from a general society expectation that all men out in the world will treat women right. But this is a pipe dream, there are idiots and thugs and sex addicts of the highest order out there… For a woman to be safe she needs to stay away from them, because they’re not going to go away.

    Husbands, fathers, brothers, close male friends, boyfriends are the ones who need to be giving this protection. For a woman to leave the safety of such people is to be asking for trouble. Going out by yourself, getting drunk and falling into the arms of an NRL player is akin to painting a target on your head and walking onto a rifle range. You can’t have it both ways, either you go after sex and run the risk of being raped or treated shamefully (the bar for which is already way too low in my opinion) or you stay in the safety of modesty.

    None of this is to say that the men who commit such acts against women are to be absolved, they are definitely guilty, and as the physically stronger sex have the responsibility to treat women right. But they won’t, they’re idiots. No amount of complaining is going to keep men from crossing the line between acceptable and unacceptable casual sex.

    Which brings me back to my first point. The sexual liberation has created a situation that has made all of this possible. Do you want to know what safe sex is? It’s monogamy. Pick a partner, and keep them. You ever feel that jealousy of losing a sexual partner to someone else? That’s your conscience telling you this obvious fact. If everybody was monogamous then none of this would be an issue.

    Sex is like fire, fire is great in a fireplace. It’s enjoyable, gives us comfort and warmth. But if you take fire out of a fireplace and start spreading it all over everything, then you burn your house down. Sex is great in a monogamous, committed relationship… but if you take it out of that and spread it around then it ruins everything. Sometimes the consequences will be subtle, like the remorse and jealousy of an ended relationship. Other times the consequences will be there for everyone to see, like the hubbub of “consensual” gang sex being splashed all over Four Corners.

    So the bottom line is, if you want to be safe: keep your pants on and stay at home (some women aren’t even safe from predation there unfortunately but that’s another issue). Anyone who goes out looking for casual sex will find it, and all of the problems that come with it. They have no more right to complain than the guy who gets eaten when swimming in a shark tank.

    There’s more responsibility to be taken than just by the football players. If people want to fix these issues then they need to stand up and acknowledge the fact that they have put casual sex above their own happiness and safety. There is no such thing as harmless, consequence free casual sex. But if you go after it, then expect harmful consequences.

  8. ‘A Male Perspective’ – I fear dear sir, you may be the very man Olivia so eloquently described in her article. My colleagues (female I’ll add) and I sit here slack jawed at your more than willing demonstration of the deep rooted problem that exists within society. The seedy, sickening, rationalising tendencies that allow you to say things like ‘I don’t care about this girl, for all I care she wanted it.’ and believe you are fully justified in doing so.
    Tell me if ‘Clare’ had been your sister, daughter, niece, relative, friend for fuck sake and she had been lying in a hotel room suddenly surrounded by Cronulla Sharks all waiting for their piece of action for the night you wouldn’t want to take a hammer to each of their empty skulls? And if you can look in the mirror and say if it had been someone you care about instead of Clare that you’d still be as ambivalent to this testosterone, aggression and filth filled act by a group of “professional” sportsmen (I use the ward sparingly) then God help us all.

    Liv – I don’t think it has anything to do with a lack common decency, I think it’s the severely stunted acquisition of a moral code. One that would allow them to tell the difference between giving the ‘lass’ a cabcharge for the ride home and not putting her in the situation in the first place. (oh I’m sorry – forgive me, my mistake, I think she was gagging for it right?)

    And Jess… “if you place people on a pedestal, there’s the chance they might be stupid enough to think that puts them above the law as well.” – the higher the pedestal, the further the fall. Johns has a long way to wall.

  9. I copied and pasted this from facebook without reading the replies.. which I probably shouldn’t do.

    I think it’s totally wrong to put anything like this down as ‘boys being boys’ I have been reading some NZ papers about it. It just goes to show how indifferent society is being. It’s pathetic how it gets swept under the carpet, Johns will only ever admit to what he can be caught for, the fact that the police haven’t laid any charges is (in my eyes) not because he is innocent but there is not enough evidence to prove him and everyone else guilty.

    boys will be boys – give me a break

  10. @Arch: So, your solution is to punish the victims while giving up on the offenders? Nice. You might as well argue that the only way to guard against paedophile priests is to keep children out of church. And if, as you say, it’s true that ‘no amount of complaining is going to stop men crossing the line’, why should they care about monogamy? Given that you’ve already declared them mentally and socially unfit to refrain from rape, presumably they’d be equally incapable of sticking to one woman. Why, if only *some* men are unteachable, should we stop trying to improve the behaviour of all the others? And what on eath makes you think that men have become animals only after the sexual liberation movement? I guess all the marital rape, extramarital rape, gang rape, incest, unfaithfulness, mistresses, forced marriages, arranged marriages, ceaseless breeding and oppression of the pre-liberated years don’t count? Also, monogamy doesn’t preclude rape. It certainly hasn’t for most of history. It’s only since the sexual revolution that we’ve even had a *concept* of marital rape. People getting themselves into dangerous situations is one thing; other people causing dangerous situations is another.

  11. Foz I’m driving at the point that in terms of this issue that the men doing damage can be avoided by the women. I said in my first post that even at home women may not be safe but that was another issue. And I didn’t say anything of the sort about punishing the victims or giving up on the offenders. I said that the victims can avoid being victims by not putting themselves in the position of becoming victims. The offenders are still guilty.

    Marital rape, pedofilia in churches, incest, adultery… I’d love to get rid of all of it. None of it is what I was talking about here. The women (and children) victimised by those things are in a situation that is beyond their control. And just as I didn’t want to lump all of the good of the feminist movement in with the bad, nor do I want to be taken to mean that all the sexual liberation produced was bad. I’m glad for the end of any ill-treatment of women that that movement produced, but the results weren’t all good.

    That’s the problem with our “progressive” society, one step forward… two steps back.

  12. @Arch: As much as I wish they did, the Bad Men In Question don’t glow green. You can’t pick them out of a crowd. They don’t have horns, they don’t share a profession. Most of them lead normal lives. Many are pleasant, charming, friendly, funny – right up until they’re not, or a line is crossed, or they’ve had too much to drink, or they’re horny. Point being, you can’t just avoid them, because you don’t know who they are until after the fact.

    The issue shouldn’t be about which environment is safer than another. As with the Evil Men, there’s no way of telling which place might turn out to be dangerous. That doesn’t mean there are no known risks when it comes to sex, but unless you go around worrying that every man you meet is a potential rapist, there’s no reasonable way to deal with that particular risk than through individual judgement – which, as many women well know, is often a risk in itself. Perhaps more importantly, the risk of rape is not exclusive to women (or men) who willingly engage in casual sex. Which is what I was trying to get at: that if we accept that certain men are beyond hope, and acknowledge that we cannot tell who they are at a glance, our choice is either to use our judgement and engage with one half of the population, or to assume that none can be trusted and avoid them. And as we both agree, although it’s a separate issue to the Johns incident, families cannot always be trusted; situations cannot always be avoided. Despite our best precautions, bad things happen to good people, and always have, and probably always will.

    Blaming sexual liberation doesn’t work. The Bad Men In Question existed before it, and, should it ever come to an end, will continue to exist after it. You cannot avoid a group of people it is impossibly to identify. Telling society to behave monogamously has never stopped rape (or recreational sex, for that matter), but where society has enforced monogamy as a moral absolute, it *has* stopped people talking about problems. Sexual liberation has freed up our language. The fact that we can even have a public discussion about gang sex and its evils is testament to that. It has neither been the genesis for bad deeds, nor has it ended them: it has simply altered the context in which they take place. That was my point.

  13. Liv – Great job

    A male perspective – You are who they are talking about. “C’mon it happened seven years ago.” And it is still affecting her life, it possibly defined her life. I’m sure as a 19-year-old she had no idea how to deal with it. She should have gone to the police immediately and then to a hospital and gotten swabbed, but I’m sure she just wanted to get home, take a shower and feel clean. I’m sure she just wanted it all to go away, as quietly as possible, but seven years later it hasn’t. Sorry your “footy show” is ruined, that is after all the “real tragedy” in all of this.

    Jess – Pro athletes do get payed way too much and people need to get off the jock.

    Arch – I disagree with you on so many levels. Sexual liberation and feminism have nothing to do with raping / taking advantage of, it is an extremely weak argument. Back in the more sexist ‘good ol’ days,’ women still got raped, women still got gang raped. It’s never been o.k..
    “Husbands, fathers, brothers, close male friends, boyfriends are the ones who need to be giving this protection. For a woman to leave the safety of such people is to be asking for trouble.” “You can’t have it both ways, either you go after sex and run the risk of being raped or treated shamefully.” – That you basically suggest women stay home if they don’t want to be raped, because essentially ‘boys will be boys,’ is totally wrong and whether you meant to or not you are excusing the actions of these athletes.
    “No amount of complaining is going to keep men from crossing the line between acceptable and unacceptable casual sex.” There is absolutely nothing wrong with casual sex if both parties are on the same page. I’ve had a fair amount of casual sex and never have I crossed the line into “unacceptable.” You may find monogamy more satisfying to your life, but that isn’t everyone. Some people absolutely don’t want to be in a relationship; They just got out of one, they are not in one place long enough to be, they just don’t want to, whatever the reason it is fine.
    Here in California we have what we call a “Captain save-a-ho,” you sound like one. You like to think a woman needs you and your protection, they don’t. And that they can go to a bar and not get raped, is a reasonable expectation.

    I guess there are different types of tough. I can’t imagine that everyone who saw this going on felt good about it, and if they were really tough they would have spoken up and stopped it.
    Also for as non-gay as I’m sure these players consider themselves, sitting around circle-jerking while watching your mates gang-bang some poor girl, all sounds a bit homoerotic.
    Culture, alcohol, peer pressure, nor anything else, excuse what these guys have done, I’ve known plenty of drunk rugby players who would never stand for this shit, no matter how drunk they got, no matter how much it would have divided a team, some things are just more important.

  14. I must admit I had a lot of trouble finishing reading the comments by ‘A Male Perspective’. I was listening to the radio in the car this morning and had to turn it off in disgust due to the ignorant and ill-informed people who were ringing in. If I hear, “she asked for it”, “she lay there and let it happen” or “why was she in a room with a bunch of guys if she didn’t want group sex?” one more time I think I’ll be sick. I didn’t watch the Four Corners program because honestly I couldn’t bring myself to watch it, but for those who are accusing this woman of “seeking out” the press and trying to “cash in” on this incident, I think you are severely missing the point and clearly lacking an appropriate level of empathy. I think you’ll find that Four Corners sought her out for this piece, and even if she did contact the press, does that really change anything? The incident still happened, and whether she spoke to the press or not, it doesn’t make the situation right or make her experience any less valid.

    Anyone who has been in a similar situation or knows of someone who has been in a similar situation will know that no amount of money could ever compensate someone for the emotional trauma and psychological scars that victims of sexal assault endure, and those scars don’t just fade away. They are raw and they are real and for those people who are saying, “why did she wait 7 years” or “let it go, it happened seven years ago”, it takes a lot of courage to even face the reality of what has happened, let alone revealing it to anyone or reporting the incident. Sexual assault victims suffer a lot of shame and humiliation, and more often than not blame themselves. Sometimes it takes 7 months, sometimes 7 years, sometimes 17 years to be able to face a situation and it is no one’s place to tell her she should “get over it.”

    I think she should be commended for having the courage to speak out and share her story. I don’t think it’s a matter of chastising women for not taking proper measures to “avoid” a situation like this, but women do need to be alert and aware because it’s an unfortunate truth in society today that no one can be trusted anymore. It is a good example to many women out there, and many men as well, that just because a situation doesn’t fit the stereotypical “rape” scenario, does not mean that it’s right. Furthermore, try to put yourself in her shoes for a minute. If you were faced with a room full of football players, who had been drinking and who were high on their own egos, wouldn’t you feel a little scared? A little intimidated of what might happen if you said no? You might feel a little trapped, a little pressured and feel you had no other choice but to submit. Even if she went into the room as a willing participant, she had every right to change her mind at any stage of the proceedings, and should be able to do so without being blamed because she had indicated she was “up for it.”

    I think it would serve everyone well to remember who the real victims are in these cases. The victims are not the players who are “named and shamed,” the victims are not the people who lose a spot on a TV show and ruin their careers, the victims are not those whose reputations have been ruined, and the victims are certainly not those people whose Thursday nights have been “ruined” by no longer seeing Matthew Johns on The Footy Show.

  15. Foz, I know that these men existed before the sexual liberation. The sexual liberation has increased their sphere of influence, and feminism has empowered women to naively end up in bed with them without the protection that they would have had in a more paternal society. that is a very simplistic version of my argument, but all that I have the patience to write now. The end of paternalism and the public airing of sexuality hasn’t been all bad by any means, but both have contributed to this situation that we find ourselves in now.

    Califournia, the sexual liberation and feminism have not created rape or women being taken advantage of, but they have vastly increased the scale. At the end of the day people want sex more than they want the responsibilities that come with it. I don’t buy that casual sex doesn’t hurt anyone, but even if I was to concede that it didn’t, it creates an ideal situation for sexual predators to function in. I’m not at all trying to excuse the people who commit these acts and have stated that explicitly several times. I’m just saying that women need to take their fair share of the responsibility. As an analagy: if I was to cross the street without looking, the driver who hits me has a duty of care to take all measured to not hit me, but I still had the common sense responsibility to not step in front of a moving car.

  16. OK, firstly, Liv, fantastic article. Not that I’m surprised, you are after all, a genius with a keyboard.

    Secondly, “A Male Perspective” – you are clearly the world’s biggest cock, and I don’t mean that in a flattering way. The fact that your name linkes to http://cmonshewantedit makes me glad that I don’t know your real identity, because I would hunt you down, and shove a banana so far up your arse that you would cry blood.

    As for you Arch, I understand the perspective you MOSTLY seem to have – clearly you have an education, but I fundamentally disagree with your concept towards women. Feminism has happened but by no means is where it should or could be. Why is it that all the dissidents are male? Why should women have to “avoid” situations that they cannot foresee? The common denominator with these issues is that it’s the men who are fucked up; it’s the mob mentality that so easily embeds itself in the male psyche, that makes their behaviour seem normal? The cave man era left a long time ago, and it’s disappointing to think that we women still have to accommodate modern day versions of them.

    Why did Clare take her time with it? As previously discussed by the other commentators, I think it took a lot of time for her to come to terms with the situation. I might not have been raped by a Wayne Rooney look-alike, but I was sexually assaulted when I was younger, and I thought I could deal with it, and so kept it to myself for 8 years. It’s only NOW that I have come to terms with it, having spoken to a counsellor and am now OK talking about it. Look at me putting it out there on a website! How dare any of you think that you know what it’s like! You don’t know what I went through, and you certainly don’t know what she went through.

    On a more upbeat note, I recall learning at University (in a History lecture) that boys were encouraged from a young age to take up Rugby to stop them from masturbating. Rugby’s not AFL but it’s all the same in my mind. In one hand, we have a ball sport, in the other, masturbating. Now I’m no top psychology dog but surely making such correlations at such a young age is going to be damaging in the long term? When you want to wank, run around a field? Genius. No wonder there is so much sexual angst with all the players. It’s explosive and results in these circumstances. Must have been a guy’s idea, because back then, women had no say! Oh wait, CLEARLY women STILL have no say!

    And as for the appalling women who wrote in to the TV station feeling sorry for Matthew Johns: it is people like you who push feminism back. You are disgusting. Just because he’s cute? (Debatable) Just because he’s a loveable tv personality? (Again, debatable). If it was an ugly hobo, you’d be up in arms. Damn you for perpetuating the current social norm of elevating TV personalities to an untouchable status.

    As mentioned by others, if you wouldn’t wish it on your mum/aunt/sister/girlfriend, then why allow it? Why forgive it?

    No girl wakes up in the morning and thinks “hmm, I think today I’ll strategically get myself gang raped by footballers so I can get famous or rich.” No matter how “slutty” people might think she is.

    The common denominator is Men. You’re neanderthals, and haven’t evolved at all. The world would be a better place if you weren’t in it.

  17. Livvy all for the article and I think what you say in this case is absolutely right. This stuff has been on the news in London and all over CNN as well – it’s a big thing and it’s an issue that’s not just limited to one sector of Australia sport.

    That said, I think the entire reaction – both in mass media and in this article – to this is suggesting that group sex and male dominance (virtually rape) are inextricably linked. I don’t think it’s fair to say that is the case. In this example yes it is, but let’s be careful not to judge everyone for the efforts of a few. I’m not someone who engages in these kind of activities but as someone who has been judged for their sexual preference we need to be careful to remind ourselves that:

    a) Not all football players are rapists
    b) Not all men who engage in group sex are rapists
    c) woman can consent to having sex with more than one man at a time if they choose – without being victims of rapists. Even if this one, and many others, have been

    And on totally another point, it’s fascinating that a whole bunch of guys getting off on watching each other have sex is considered so heterosexual and “masculine”.

  18. Livvy all for the article and I think what you say in this case is absolutely right. This stuff has been on the news in London and all over CNN as well – it’s a big thing and it’s an issue that’s not just limited to one sector of Australia sport.
    That said, I think the entire reaction – both in mass media and in this article – to this is suggesting that group sex and male dominance (virtually rape) are inextricably linked. I don’t think it’s fair to say that is the case. In this example yes it is, but let’s be careful not to judge everyone for the efforts of a few. I’m not someone who engages in these kind of activities but as someone who has been judged for their sexual preference we need to be careful to remind ourselves that:
    a) Not all football players are rapists
    b) Not all men who engage in group sex are rapists
    c) woman can consent to having sex with more than one man at a time if they choose – without being victims of rapists. Even if this one, and many others, have been

  19. Nadia – I believe it is you infact who is the neanderthal.
    I cannot for one minute understand the narrow minded attitude in this discussion.

    I would like you all to consider a few things for a moment:
    1. Matthew Johns was investigated and cleared by New Zealand Police in 2002. Still to this point, no charges have been laid and the police aren’t considering laying charges either.
    2. There have been 2 friends of “Clare” who have come forward and said that she “boasted” about this incident of which she is now claiming to have suffered from.

    The comments that a 19year old girl could never want to be involved in group sex are quite clearly from those who have lead such a sheltered life. Unfortunate as it is that you have been raised like this, I believe it is about time you took off those rose coloured glasses and took a good look at the world.

    In 2002, I was also 19 and spent alot of time with a rugby league team.
    Players are constantly inundated with requests from female fans (of all ages) to be involved in casual sex, group sex and many different things which I see no point mentioning as most of you quite clearly do not understand. The players are pressured by the fans.
    There are also many instances of fans “hooking up” with players then coming back later threatening to scream rape just to get something they want, whether money or connections. I know of atleast 5 occasions where it was not rape and the female fans confided in me their real motives behind the threats.
    I was approached by some players requesting me to join one of there nights and when I declined, there was never any pressure placed on me whatsoever!

    Women enjoy sex, men enjoy sex. You only need to spend 5 minutes searching the internet or in a porn shop to see the variety of acts which some people enjoy. You may not agree with everything there, I certainly don’t. But if it is not illegal then why cant they enjoy it.

    The culture of Rugby League needs to be seriously addressed, this includes drug use and rape.
    But to blame everything on Matthew Johns because of one night of consentual sex is clearly pathetic and simple minded.

    I believe his wife had it right when she said the only crime he committed was being unfaithful to her.

    I am unsure of Clare’s motives, but you only need to look at the evidence to see that she is full of shit.

  20. The best thing that has come out of this entire shit storm is we are engaging in a discussion about greater societal norms and expectations that exist, that have alloweda sex culture to fester in the NRL. And I not saying it exists in the NRL only, I am saying that the fact it does exist is a product of the culture from which the NRL comes from itself. Debates are raging (as evidenced above) and that is the only way we can start to identify the roots of problems and move toward changing them. Fantastic and not so fantastic panels are on radio, television, online – and they are all encouraging men and women to engage in a conversation about one of our ugliest cultural problems. That is a good thing. It’s a great thing.

    I do want to say how impressed I am with Phil Gould’s response last night on The Footy Show. He was measured, balanced and he addressed front on the fact that the code had this coming. They will rebuild, in fact it’s the only thing they can do when everything hits rock bottom, and I think the game will come out the other side of this, better for it.

    I still believe Matthew Johns should have worn the consequences like he did, for the fact he is a public personality and for the fact he was a senior player. As so many people have said, in professional sport, it goes from the top down, the higher your position, the more people look up to you. What Matthew engaged in, whether or not he was legally cleared, as a married thirty year old man, was not okay. Yes he took the fall, yes the point of group sex (team bonding) clearly failed as none of the other men involved feel bonded enough to come forward, but the ramifications Johns must face are ramifications borne of his public position and senior status.

    I also believe that women have to be smarter and we have to be safer. It’s sad, but true. We shouldn’t HAVE to consider the worst case scenarios, but we do. We always have had to, and for now it seems we always will.

    Realist, I wanted to respond to you, because I found your comment as a former league player interesting. Absolutely women enjoy sex. And absolutely there are women who enjoy and engage group sex for whatever reasons. No, we don’t know ‘Clare’s’ motivations, we don’t know ANYONE’S motivations that night, we cannot dismiss something she said and believe something Johns said, and vice versa. We also cannot readily believe ‘friends’ crawling out of the woodwork making claims, because who knows what their motivations are? What’s to say ‘Clare’ wasn’t so embarrassed by what happened she sought approval and affirmation through empty boasting, before the trauma kicked in? What’s to say she simply said ‘yes there were six of them’ and the friends took that as boasting? My point is we don’t know much about that night. All we know is group sex took place and the woman was traumatised.

    Furthermore, I understand women throw themselves are rugby players, I’ve seen it before numerous times. I’ve refused to do it myself, numerous times. But you cannot make the leap, and this is what I was trying to get at in the article, from ‘girl throwing herself at me’ to ‘she’s a willing participant in me and five of my mates.’ There needs to be consideration in these situations, there needs to be someone thinking ‘actually, this isn’t what she signed up for’ – just because it doesn’t look like what rape does on the television, doesn’t mean that it isn’t.

    This was always going to implode, and it just so happens that Matthew Johns has had to cop the brunt of it. As unfair as it may be, as much as it may ruin The Footy Show, if he has to wear the consequences for the greater good, then so be it. As the face of the game, he has gone down with the game. And that is perhaps rather fitting.

  21. Nadia I’m not going to respond to everything that you said. But I’m still bemused by the attitude of wanting your cake and eating it too that is so pervasive in feminism. Out of one side of their mouths I hear things like “we don’t need your protection” then out of the other it’s “why should women have to avoid *blank*?”

    There are two facts that will not go away:
    1- Men are physically stronger than women
    2- There are men out there who will harm women (not all of us, but they’re out there nonetheless as you seem to agree)

    So there are two options for a woman who wants to stay safe from such men (in the situations such as are being discussed in this issue, for the millionth time I know that women are domestically abused in situations beyond their control, which is deplorable but not the issue I’m referring to here) they can stay at home or they can be astute in picking the situations that they let themselves end up in. I’m sorry that Clare is so traumatised by her incident, but she regrets it after the fact… she was already in a dodgy situation well before it got out of hand. Any person who wants to argue that she didn’t know what she was getting herself into I have only two words: Bull Crap.

    I know that my standards of appropriate sexual behaviour are a lot higher than most, but nonetheless… if you go to bed with two footy players and don’t want it to turn into 7 or 8… then don’t go with the 2. The actions of the players are disgusting but Clare was either incredibly niave or incredibly stupid to think that there wasn’t a danger. Casual sex is frought with danger, people come out of it “relatively” unscathed all the time but there’s always a risk that they won’t. To argue that there isn’t is to be in denial, you can argue with me on that all you want… but the happiest, most sexually fulfilled, emotionally satisfied, stable relationships that I see in my experience are those of faithful married couples. If you girls want to be treated with the respect and care that you believe is your due, then stop hanging out in bars picking up losers and find a decent guy who will commit to you.

    There’s a tradeoff in this, it means you need to put sex on the backburner until you find someone who you can have this commitment with. Which means that you have to take some responsibility for yourself, have the self control to keep a leash on your sexual urges until you’re in a situation that can support it… and STOP SLEEPING WITH LOSER GUYS WHO ONLY WANT SEX AND DON’T CARE ABOUT YOU AS A PERSON AT ALL!

    Realist, I think you’re very harsh in your assessment of Nadia and a neanderthal and dismissing Clare as full of shit. Whilst I disagree with Nadia on many levels she’s clearly not stupid. And Clare has had 7 years to process the emotional weight of what she’s been through. I have little doubt she was a willing participant at the time (at least before it escalated), but she still has every right to regret it now.

  22. @Arch:

    “The sexual liberation has increased their sphere of influence, and feminism has empowered women to naively end up in bed with them without the protection that they would have had in a more paternal society.”

    Traditionally speaking, women have suffered most under paternal societies. The argument that women ultimately need to be protected by men because of their physical frailty has justified so many social evils for so long that I cannot see any worth in reviving it. This harks back to my original reaction: you are punishing the victims. Consider the logic of a society in which, by your account, women should know they are physically weak and therefore prey to men, and in which both men and women are raised to believe this is true. If a women walks alone and is attacked by a man, such societies say, it is her fault: the man was just following his natural (albeit brutish) inclination, and he may well be punnished for it, but the woman should have known better than to go unescorted. What kind of loose woman walks around without a male family member, anyway? Paternalism is rightly considered to be a negative term in this context, because the fundamental premise to remove choice from women. If men are free to come and go despite being the aggressors of such a scenario – and certainly, under your model, it is men who are the problem – and only the actions of women are restricted, that is sexist and wrong. You are punnishing the victims. A better system, if you insist on making male strength the arbiter of social mores, would be for men to police the actions of other men, and for women to have no social restrictions.

    “The sexual liberation and feminism have not created rape or women being taken advantage of, but they have vastly increased the scale.”

    I disagree entirely with this statement. Certainly, we hear more about these incidents now, but that’s because sexual liberation and feminism have allowed society to discuss them. What used to go on behind closed doors is now in the media. Judging from your name and stance, I’m going to take a stab in the dark and assume you’re from the baby boomer or builder generation, because you seem to be comparing society as is with your own recollection of society as was. So, in that context and under that assumption, I say again: the fact that your hear about rape more now doesn’t mean it’s actually more prevalent. To take the example of the 1950s, when everything was meant to be peachy, families wholesome, women happy as housewives and men protective and paternal, we’re now starting to realise that there was a vast underbelly of domestic abuse, both spousal and towards children, which was never reported on at the time – not only because it was deemed unseemly, but because women were often dismissed as liars or slatterns for dobbing in their husbands.

    Sexual liberation has not made more men into rapists. More women wanting to have sex, and society approving casual sex, has not led to more rape. It’s simply put those discussions out in the open. And personally, from what I’ve read of domestic abuse and paternal paedophilia in the 1950s, I’m very glad of that.

  23. I have to agree with Arch, a very thorough assessment.

    I was referring to Nadia’s comment “The common denominator is Men. You’re neanderthals, and haven’t evolved at all. The world would be a better place if you weren’t in it.”

    It seems in my opinion that her comments are from a very sheltered view on things. I am not saying that she is a neanderthal, simply that many of her views are.

    Honestly, the only way a solution can come of this is if the other players involved speak up.
    I believe that Matthew Johns is right in not naming them, they should come out of their own accord.
    There seems to be something else underlying from this evening and the players involved are obviously to gutless to come forward. I think if something more sinister has happened then it should be reported and dealt with by the proper authorities.

    Rugby League players are in the public view constantly. They are role models.
    Brett Stewart was given a short suspension due to the incident with a 17 year old girl yet Matthew Johns has lost his job at channel 9 & Melbourne Storm. Comparing the two, how is it fair?

    If the NRL want people to believe they are taking action on these incidents then they need to have SET standards across the board.

  24. Well Foz you couldn’t be more wrong about my age. I’m in my mid 20’s. No doubt I’m old fashioned in my thinking though, and Arch isn’t my real name. I just thought it was an amusing pseudonym.

    As I’ve already acknowledged, paternalism was covering up horrible things that were happening to women and that are now out there and being discussed. Wonderful and good, but it also had a framework for the protection of women that isn’t there anymore. Yes, it is true that this protection impinged on a woman’s ability to choose for herself. I’m not trying to say that going back to the “good old days” is the answer. Just that that period of time did some things right that we don’t have now.

    Women having no social restrictions and men (and women) policing other men is more or less what we have now. It’s in this framework that I’m saying that for women to be protected they need to restrict themselves, because the restrictions aren’t imposed anymore. Women are free to go out alone at night the same way I’m free to go rock fishing in a cyclone, the point is that the danger is well established and complaining about it won’t make it do away. What solution do you propose to stop men from sexually abusing women? Rape is already illegal, the inherent privacy about people’s sex lives will keep anything less than that in the dark, as will the shame felt by the victims. Prevention is better than the cure in my mind, does that mean that women will have to choose which of their freedoms that they get to exercise? Yes. Is that better than getting raped? Yes. I’m still waiting to hear a better idea.

    I’m only seeking to put forward factors that I see as contributing to the current situation. I don’t think that our antecedents had it right either, but they had it right in some areas where we have it wrong now. The correct way forward will hopefully resemble neither, but realistically if the increasing moral corruption of our society is anything to go by… there won’t be a way forward, just a way down.

  25. Now dont you all feel like idiots knowing that the Kiwi actually enjoyed the big orgy session! In case you haven’t bothered to read up on the news, your alleged victim was boasting to employees about how she slept with half the footy team. So like I said, something must have triggered her to speak up about this incident 7 years later. And that something is $$$. I wonder how much she got paid for the Four Corners interview. I heard they double the pay if you start crying.

    The best thing to have come out of this debate is the jokes…Heres a good one for you:

    The NRL have just cleared Matthew Johns of any misconduct as the Kiwi girl at the centre of the sex scandal admitted she wasn’t aware of the interchange rule.

    Bring back the biff

  26. @Arch

    Well, I did say I was guessing about the age.

    Look, here’s my question, which I still don’t believe you’ve answered: why should only women restrict themselves? If both men and women are capable of making bad decisions, whether to cause danger or to risk it, why should only women be socially encouraged to restrict their behaviour?

    I do not dispute that men tend to be physically stronger than women, and that some men are aggressive towards women as a matter of habit. But I reject the notion that this single fact should determine the morality of an entire society. You keep comparing the choice women make to engage in casual sex with a choice to put oneself in the way of a force of nature, like a cyclone or shark tank, but it’s a strawman analogy. Cyclones are always dangerous. Casual sex isn’t. You can take no precautions to be safe in a cyclone, nor, unless you are suicidal, is there any good reason to step into one. There are, however, many good reasons why people engage in casual sex/dating, and many ways to make it safe. That doesn’t mean things can’t go wrong, but the same can be said of crossing the road: no matter how carefully I look both ways, there’s always the chance that some moron in a 4WD will wipe me out at the zebra crossing. But if that happens, its not my fault: society removes the bad driver from the road, not the pedestrian from the footpath. Unless I step out onto a freeway with my eyes closed – which is a conscious decision to put myself in danger – the greatest onus is on the driver to be careful, because in a collision between a pedestrian and a car, the car will deal the greatest amount of damage.

    You see where I’m going with this? Men are drivers, women are pedestrians, and sex is the car. Women don’t want to get hit, but they still have every right to cross the road. They run a greater risk if they do so without looking, but in a court of law – and in social morality – men have the more significant responsibility. It can’t be helped: like the drivers, their potential danger to the other party is simply greater. Intentions are everything. But when it comes to aggro drivers who don’t care who they hurt, the solution isn’t to lock up all the pedestrians. It’s to get them off the road.

  27. A MALE PERSPECTIVE: the claims made by these ‘friends’ of the girl are completely unsubstantiated, as I addressed in my earlier comment. We must take all comments and claims made about that night with the grain of salt that is time, distance and the natural disparity that occurs within reports of these types of incidents. I also think that what happened that night is almost by the by. It is a catalyst for a much needed examination of a culture that undeniably exists (even according to your bible, The Footy Show) in the sport, and on a greater scale, within our own society.

    I am intrigued as to why you are happy to treat these claims as gospel, is it because they make you feel better about the entire situation? Or is it because you think it will bring back the biff.

    Either way, I think your name does a disservice to your gender.

  28. The fact of the matter is:

    1. There is her version of events
    2. There is his version of events

    Choose to believe who you will

    I have noticed a trend in this discussion that Clare is right and anything anyone else says is wrong (this includes Matthew himself, and the friends of Clare’s who have come forward).

    We live in a society where people are innocent until proven guilty, in this case, Matthew is apparently guilty until proven innocent.

  29. What I am trying to get across in the article, and the discussion I am trying to encourage, and which on a level I believe is taking place, is that whatever happened that night, the timebomb has exploded in the centre of the NRL and it is time to address some serious problems. I really do feel that.

    There is no time for, nor case for lynch mobs and witch hunts, directed at either Clare or Matthew Johns. However, because they are the public faces/names of the catalyst for this eruption, they are going to be on the receiving end of the public scrutiny and judgment to a far greater extent.

    Beyond that night, beyond that case, which we do not know the finer details of, there are issues bubbling and scary attitudes manifesting themselves, and it is on that broader spectrum that we need to view these events.

  30. Foz, I would be happy to see men take their fair share of the responsibility. I’ll be happy to concede our different viewpoints on the merits of casual sex for the sake of this issue. I admit that my crossing the road analogy is the least of a straw man of the analogies I used, the others were mainly just to highlight the stupidity of ‘Clare’ in this case in putting herself in the situation she ended up in. But in general I agree that women are not the only ones who need to change to remedy the situation.

    Taking and running with the road analogy: if you’re a pedestrian in a society where the drivers are positively insane, speeding and killing pedestrians at alarming rates. How in your right mind could you feel like it’s a good idea to walk into the road? The drivers are still responsible for their actions and measures need to be taken to restore them to acceptable driving habits, but the pedestrian still has the ability to avoid being hit.

    Of course the actuality is that just as there are many good drivers and many bad ones and you can’t tell them apart when you’re just starting to cross the road, there are many respectful men (probably less than there used to be) and many toolbags. Since you don’t always know whether you’ll come across the person who knows how to use their brakes or the person who’s too busy changing cds to watch the road, you have to be very, very cautious.

    All of this is the onus of self preservation for the woman. Should society step in and stop the men? Sure. I’m all for it. But until something changes there’s a very real danger for women and the smartest thing to do is to avoid it. I’m all too happy to see abusive men restricted from hurting women, but we don’t live in that society yet… and I personally don’t see any way to make it happen. You can take bad drivers off the road after they hit a pedestrian, but we don’t have adequate measures in place to stop the bad drivers from getting behind the wheel of a car in the first place.

  31. Olivia, very well put. I would add though that getting these young guys, outrageously overpaying them, and then hailing them as ‘heroes’ is contributing to this culture. They’re not heroes, they play a game. We need to get things into perspective before any of this is going to change.

  32. Sandy, we have made them heroes.
    Everyone who has praised them and attended their games.

    But this discussion isn’t going to be noticed by anyone so what is the point?

  33. @Arch:

    I’m happy to concede our different viewpoints, too. Once that’s been done, I think the biggest difference in our perspective on the matter is, to stick with the car analogy, the number of bad drivers. I’ve grown up a tomboy: through primary school, high school, university and into the present, the vast majority of my friends have been male. There are a lot of wankers out there, and a lot of blokes who are absolute morons, but I still believe that the kind of men we’re talking about – the aggro dangerous ones – are in the minority. Perhaps more importantly, there’s a lot of guys out there who’re willing to learn.

  34. No one can judge these people – the players or the girl involved – for no one else was there at the time. I think it is something which needs to be left for the families and clubs involved to deal with.

    It is true that trauma does not always set in immediately after the event, so it is not uncommon for women to speak up after such a long time – unfortunately the credibility of the claims may be tainted and argued which can create major psychological issues for the many other women out there who have been through a traumatic sexual experience (and I dont necessarily mean sleeping with your best male friend and waking up the next day and finding it extremely awkward!). By not responding to such serious claims does send the wrong message to society thus pressuring other women to keep their mouths shut for fear that they will be rejected. But then again, the girl could have been keen for a good gang bang by half an NRL team thinking ‘well if porn stars get payed for group sex, then maybe I can get some money out of this too!’. Who knows.

    I’m sitting on the fence with this one and I have no reason to pick a side.

  35. @Realist

    “this discussion isn’t going to be noticed by anyone so what is the point?”
    It’s that exact attitude that is stopping any progress. People should take responsibility for crafting the world they live in rather than leaving it up to ‘someone else’ to make decisions. Power of one anyone?

    And I’m charmed to have been called a neanderthal by you. What a trooper you are. I think you should run for office. Maybe in America, where they enjoy rednecks like you.

  36. I feel that with the NRL there has been so many situations where the players have capitalised on their fame and their pedestals and really taken advantage of a lot of women. I sincerely believe that in a lot of cases, they really are to blame, and that they believe they are above so many codes that the rest of us live by.

    However, I am feeling quite unsure about this particular situation. As far as I know, the girl in question consented to group sex. In fact, it is said that she even stated that you could not be in the room unless you planned to get naked. In a sense, it was like she had an agenda in what she wanted to do and she accomplished it. She put herself out there and it took her however many odd years to turn around and start complaining.

    Maybe she was turned on by the fact that these were rich, hunky, celebrity athletes or whatever. Sadly, a lot of women are like that. I dont like it when women are taken advantage of, but at the same time, it really pisses me off when they go after something, put themselves out there for it, and then wail and go on and on about it when it does not go according to their plans. Just like the men involved are belittling males, women like that are also belittling other women as well.

    I wonder just how much this girl actually thought about her actions. What these players did (if her version of events is anything to go by) is disgusting. If their version of events is anything to go by as well, what the hell was she thinking, some people might tell her to lay in the bed she made for herself. In the end, we’re not really going to know anything about this situation, so I dont understand the big deal made about it. I dont know many a man who will turn down an opportunity for sex, especially when there is a pretty young thing in sight willing to get a whole lot kinky and invite his mates along for the fun, so I reckon we really need to stop allocating the blame.

    In the end – both sides were in the wrong. Why? Whether or not she consented to group sex, that girl was both ready, willing and excited to be sleeping with a renowned athelete. An athlete that young kids cheer on, and look up to. A man who had a wife at home who trusted him, and who was waiting on him to come home to her. This girl knew this, and I doubt that no matter how drunk they both were, they would have both recognised what the ring on that finger meant.

    At the end of the day, the border was crossed when they mutually decided to sleep with eachother, no matter how many others were in on the act. Shame on her, and shame on him.

  37. Wow, not surprisingly, there are facebook groups about it:

    “Give Matty Johns his job back”
    group ID 81304582871

  38. Realist,

    I think you may have just made the jump to cynic. By virtue of the fact this column has prompted such impassioned debate, it’s clear that people ARE noticing it. Sure, perhaps not CEOs of NRL clubs, but people who have the potential to affect change in their own daily lives and relationships – aka young readers around the world – and that’s where it all starts.

    You need only to read through the comments that have come from around Australia, the UK and the USA and know that people are noticing it, people do care enough to talk about it, and that however small, however microscopic, potential and desire for change exists.

  39. @ ELF

    I don’t think it’s quite and economic stimulus that is being planned.

    What I want to know is whether the brothels going to get sponsorship logos on the jerseys.

    These guys should get themselves some standards.

    I still don’t get this. If I, a regular joe (or regular Phil, as the case appears to be) were to be caught out like this, would I be supported on facebook and other sites the way the MJ is??

  40. Interesting concept Phil!

    Perhaps the brothels will get marketing material at their establishments too? Wow…imagine the marketing companies going nuts over this creating gimmicks for these brothels… NRL club branded condoms? Sex toys? “Come inside…the footy players sure did!” Haha sorry….

    ‘Standards’ seem to be somewhat non-existant in this industry so who knows what they will get up to (excuse the pun…)!

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