Another example of the abuse women receive for speaking out
By Caitlin Roper
Last week, The Australian newspaper reported that Channel Seven’s 7mate would be broadcasting the Lingerie Football. To all those who are unfamiliar with this spectacle, yes, it is exactly what it sounds like. While many accomplished women’s sporting leagues in Australia are both competitive and successful, media coverage is reserved for those women’s leagues where the uniforms consist of lingerie.
Some supporters of the Lingerie Football League, including players and men who didn’t like their access to sweaty, lingerie clad women challenged, referred to my petition on various pages on Facebook. They googled me looking for something they could use against me. I was labeled a “jealous bitch”, obviously fat and ugly, and most likely bitter that my husband was fan of Lingerie Football. I was too ugly to land a partner. I should be sent to “Guantanimo (sic) Bay” (an overreaction I thought, but still) and I probably think “walking to the kitchen for another jam donut counts as exercise” (that last one is true.)
A small sample below:
I considered responding with some facts- that I am happily married, that I work out several times a week and that I am not ugly. Then I recalled this was a classic silencing tactic I had experienced many times before– tearing women down by criticizing their physical appearance.
Women in our hyper-sexualised culture are valued for their physical attractiveness and their ability to please men sexually. Conforming to limited, stereotypical, pornified ideals of beauty and sexuality, we learn, is where our power lies. As Gail Dines writes in Pornland:
“In a porn culture, our power lies, we are told, not in our ability to shape the institutions that determine our life chances, but in having a hot body that men desire and women envy.”
In a porn culture, women can be either “f*ckable” or “invisible”. With this in mind, being regarded as an undesirable woman with nothing to offer could be potentially upsetting.
This isn’t the first time I’ve been subjected to abuse for speaking out against sexism and misogyny.
It is telling that my opponents’ first course of action was to call me fat and ugly, and that these were perceived as the most stinging insults they could unleash. What if I was fat or ugly? What if I am? If my face and body are not sufficiently pleasing to the male gaze should I be rendered voiceless?
I have more to offer than my body and I have more to offer than being pretty, as do all women and girls. Our obsession with being hot is merely a distraction.
Women are more and should be viewed as more. Unfortunately, from my experiences, the day women are recognized for their contributions and not their bodies still seems a long way off.
Lingerie Football: An open response to an open letter
An open letter “To those who oppose the LFL in Australia” was posted on our [Collective Shout] Facebook page yesterday.
Elise – an athlete who has recently joined an LFL team – asked us to read and consider her views on the LFL.
You can read Elise’s open letter here. (Opens PDF)
Thanks so much for writing to share your views on the Lingerie Football League.
Firstly, we do understand that the owner of the League has changed the name and brand to “Legends Football League” and has very slightly modified the bikini/lingerie style uniform he requires players to wear, by removing some lace and a garter and modifying shoulder pads.
The changes are so minor we don’t understand how anyone could take this seriously. The rebrand is nothing more than a cynical attempt at making the League more appealing to potential sponsors who may be put off by supporting a “Lingerie Football League.” (Readers can view the big announcement here.)
Despite a “rebrand”, the essence of the “sport” remains the same – providing titillation for men at the expense of women’s health and safety. Hence, we’re not buying into this “rebrand” and will continue referring to it as the Lingerie Football League.
Lingerie Football – whatever one chooses to call it – is not a sport. It is not recognized by the Australian Sports Commission. They do not support it.
The LFL has drained the bank accounts of former players in the US by not providing adequate compensation for serious injuries. Players understood that their injuries would be covered when they paid the insurance premiums offered by the LFL, but were instead left thousands of dollars in debt. Players who spoke out publicly about these experiences were threatened with legal action. As you’re probably aware, the US does not have the same healthcare system enjoyed by Australians, so adequate health insurance should be the highest priority for the LFL, particularly when safety equipment is the lowest priority.
Sport can indeed be an expensive pursuit and athletes are not always compensated for participation unless they are sponsored.
Now that the Lingerie Football League has a “contract” with Channel 7 and 7 Mate, will players be paid?
It doesn’t look likely. LFL owner Mitch Mortaza stated just this month to US program Inside Edition (watch below) that the league could not afford to pay players. It has been suggested by a US sports commentator that the Leagues foray into Canada and Australia is motivated in part by our health care system. Mortaza will pocket the profits from these events and Australian Medicare will foot the bill for injuries if private health insurance offered to Australian LFL players turns out to be inadequate.
The athletic skill of the women involved in the Lingerie Football League is not in question. There is no “attack” on the players of the LFL. If there is an “attack” it is directed firmly at the owner of the LFL and any corporation complicit in his exploitation of women for profit.
Some players have commented that they are not “skinny” and therefore promote positive body image. The question is asked “would you rather your daughter look like a Victoria’s Secret model or an LFL player?”
Are those really the only options? And why is physical appearance so important?
We would rather our girls not be pressured to look a certain way at all and instead be recognised for their skill and expertise in whatever activities they choose to participate in.The LFL reinforces that physical appearance and conforming to a narrow standard of beauty is what is most important, over and above athletic skill.
If Lingerie Football is about skill, then unfortunately fans didn’t get the memo. The sexist, degrading comments on social media and elsewhere about LFL player’ss bodies and what sort of sexual acts fans would like to perform are absolutely disgusting. (example) The “sport” is marketed in such a way as to invite and allow this behaviour and creates an environment that is hostile and discriminatory to women and girls. This is institutional sexual harassment. No sporting body should promote or allow this behaviour but sexual harassment is built into the business model of the LFL.
Yes, the League exists because it is “marketed well.” There is a huge market demand for pornography, prostitution, stripping and other forms of sexual exploitation. Men have not suddenly decided to embrace women’s sport. Channel 7 and 7Mate has not decided to embrace women’s sport and therefore, the LFL will not encourage other stations to embrace women’s sport. The LFL is not some new cutting edge concept, this is not the “fastest growing sport.” This is not sport at all, this is the same old sexual objectification of women, repackaged and “rebranded.”
To say if “we don’t like it don’t watch simple!” – Yes, that is a very simple statement, but it is a completely ineffective response to sexual objectification in our culture.
I don’t like it, I don’t watch it, but I have to live in a community with people who do. I have to live in a community with people whose sexist attitudes towards women are reinforced by sexploitation events. I have to live in a community with people whose ideas that women are objects of sexual recreation are affirmed by these events.
A culture in which women and girls are seen as sexual objects is one in which relationships between men and women suffer and sexual harassment and violence against women thrives. I and other women and girls are harmed by this toxic culture, even if I have never personally played football in my underwear, participated in a beauty pageant or stripped off my clothes in a nightclub.
Sexual objectification of women and girls harms all women, not just those who say they choose to participate. “Don’t like it, don’t watch it” makes as much sense as saying “don’t like pollution, don’t breathe.”
Elise, we thank you for taking the time to share your views and to provide information about the recent developments in the LFL. These minor changes to the League- if they can be called changes at all – do not change our views on the exploitative nature of the League.
Clearly we disagree on this and will continue challenging the Lingerie Football League’s introduction to Australia. However, we do wish you and your fellow athletes all the very best.
The AFL (Australian Football League) is committed to tackling the issues of violence against women. Their support of White Ribbon has been long standing with many AFL managers and players participating in White Ribbon’s Ambassador Program, and their commitment to driving change is also reflected through their respect and responsibility programs.
Their commitment to driving change is reflected through their respect and responsibility programs.
The fact is that the AFL is neglecting its responsibility to address and discipline Buddy Franklin for depicting women in degrading and sexist ways in a clothing line he co-owns. I wrote about it in my Sunday Herald Sun column.
White Ribbon gets money from the AFL. In turn, the AFL gets White Ribbon Day endorsement which makes them look good.
Of course we support any efforts to eradicate violence against women. We believe it is imperative that good men speak out against this epidemic. We commend White Ribbon for continuing to educate and create awareness about this issue and for “denouncing initiatives that objectify or exploit women.”
Last year White Ribbon joined 64 other experts and organisations as a signatory to an open letter Collective Shout published, titled ‘Retailers urged to cease the sale and distribution of porn t.shirts’. The letter protested the growing trend of men’s clothing with porn- themed and sexually objectifying images of women’s bodies. We were pleased to have White Ribbon on board.
It’s therefore troubling to us that campaign heads have said nothing about Franklin or about the AFL’s refusal to act. We hope sponsorship doesn’t buy silence.
We wrote to White Ribbon back in July about this. There has so far been no reply.
We also had the opportunity to raise the matter directly with the AFL in September. Still no reply.
‘Our Say’ invited readers to post a question they would like to have asked at the AFL Grand Final lunch at the Melbourne Press Club September 20. Collective Shout’s WA coordinator Caitlin Roper sent in this question, which attracted the most votes to be asked at the function.
The AFL’s Respect and Responsibility Policy “represents the Australian Football League’s commitment to addressing violence against women and to work towards creating safe, supportive and inclusive environments for women and girls across the football industry as well as the broader community”. Hawthorn player Lance ‘Buddy’ Franklin is part owner of Nena and Pasadena and Neverland (clothing) store, a brand renowned for its clothing with sexually objectifying and degrading imagery of women. Franklin currently features in promotional videos and images both on the brand’s website and in national clothing retailers like City Beach. Despite protests, the AFL have failed to address Franklin’s continued breach of the R&R policy. Why has the AFL failed to address this?
However the lunch was cancelled following the tragic death of AFL footballer John McCarthy. ‘Our Say’ have told us they asked the panelists to answer Caitlin’s question, but so far she’s heard nothing. The following article by Caitlin is an expanded version of a post that appeared at Our Say (they censored some of the more distressing stuff). Here’s the uncensored version.
Picture women naked on all fours, topless, headless and faceless, women handcuffed and bound, naked on the ground. Or even just various body parts, a naked backside, exposed breasts, a torso. Women sexually objectified, posed in weak, vulnerable poses and reduced to mere sexy body parts. Apparently this is Lance ‘Buddy’ Franklin’s idea of respect for women.
I first came across ‘Nena and Pasadena’, Franklin’s pornographic fashion line, in February of 2011. It was hard to miss, given a billboard featuring the AFL star wearing a shirt depicting a women’s backside.
The Respect and Responsibility Policy represents the Australian Football League’s commitment to addressing violence against women and to work towards creating safe, supportive and inclusive environments for women and girls across the football industry as well as the broader community.
The Respect and Responsibility Policy is about shifting attitudes – ensuring that people throughout the Australian Football industry are aware, and have structures in place, that recognize that violence against women and behavior that harms or degrades women, is never acceptable.
Surely t-shirt images that depicted women as objects to provide sexual gratification could not be in line with this policy? Concerned citizens, including supporters of Collective Shout, contacted the AFL back in February of last year, with no response. As a mother of a six-year-old beginning Auskick, I became uncomfortable with the supposed role models my son might be looking up to.
Nena and Pasadena’s own website listed Franklin as a ‘co-director’, as well as using his modeling images for marketing purposes. Franklin’s twitter named himself as ‘part-owner’ of the brand and the Neverland Store, a Melbourne store where he sold these and similar items. Franklin’s AFL profile was used to promote the brand on their website and Facebook page.
Fifteen months later, still with no response from the AFL regarding Buddy’s blatant breach of their policy, Collective Shout published a blog post containing evidence of Nena and Pasadena’s misogyny from their Facebook page. Pictures of semi-naked women were frequently posted, where fans were invited to rank them. Slogans like “F*ck bitches, get money” and a pornographic campaign video were shared. Fans were asked their best strategies for getting women into bed. Here are a few responses:
“Drop a roofie”
“I like to call it ‘the fight and struggle’”
“The skull drag to the bushes and then duck tape the mouth move”
“I hope to God they can’t run faster than me down that alleyway”
Nena and Pasadena encouraged jokes about raping women with their reply, “Keep em coming guys – this is very entertaining!”
Once the Herald Sun had picked up the story, and after fifteen months of ignoring the issue, the AFL suddenly felt compelled to condemn Franklin’s clothing line and claimed they would be “considering their options”. Franklin issued a statement the following day denying any significant involvement with the brand he had previously tweeted as ‘my brand’, ‘my store’. You can find photographic evidence of Franklin’s damage control here.
Months later my friends and Collective Shout Melbourne reps, Calvin and Lisa attended a game at the MCG along with a banner that read “Give porn tees the boot Buddy”, and within minutes, security had confiscated and destroyed it.
Members of the public continued to protest via twitter, using the official match hashtag. Hundreds of people signed an online petition to Hawthorn Football Club and the AFL.
It has been almost two years since the AFL have known about Buddy’s porn t-shirts, yet they have remained essentially silent, taking no effective action to uphold their own policy. When will we see the AFL taking sexism seriously? After countless allegations of players involved in sexual assault and now Franklin profiting from the degradation of women, maybe we don’t need to hear from the AFL. Their silence is deafening, telling us all we need to know.
As the AFL Finals get into full swing, the Melbourne Press Club will be holding its annual Footy Finals Lunch on Thursday 20th September. OurSay is working with the Melbourne Press Club to give you the chance to put forward a question for the panel.
“The AFL’s Respect and Responsibility Policy ‘represents the Australian Football League’s commitment to addressing violence against women and to work towards creating safe, supportive and inclusive environments for women and girls across the football industry as well as the broader community’. Hawthorn player Lance ‘Buddy’ Franklin is part owner of Nena and Pasadena and Neverland (clothing) store, a brand renowned for clothing with sexually objectifying and degrading imagery of women. Franklin currently features in promotional videos and images both on the brand’s website and in national clothing retailers like City Beach. Despite protests, the AFL have failed to address Franklin’s continued breach of the R&R policy. Why has the AFL failed to address this?”
Will we get more AFL spin? Will the sporting body that gives money to the White Ribbon campaign against violence against women continue to demonstrate it doesn’t really care that one of its key players trades in objectified and degrading images of women?
WHEN a man plays gridiron – or American football – he is dressed for maximum protection to ensure safety in a game known for its raw physicality. His body is covered, with little exposed flesh, to minimise injury.
It’s not the kind of game a man would consider playing in his underwear. That would just be dumb, right?
But it seems rules are different if you are a woman playing for the Lingerie Football League (LFL).
The less clothing the better. In fact, it’s a requirement of the game.
The US LFL began as half-time entertainment for regular NFL games on Super Bowl Sunday. Now it masquerades as a serious event in its own right, complete with garters, suspender belts and skimpy underwear designed for maximum exposure.
Now the LFL is exporting its special brand of sporting sex-ploitation, with promotional matches in Brisbane and Sydney in June and July and an official launch in 2013.
And the whole family is invited! Brisbane Entertainment Centre and Allphones Arena Sydney are offering family tickets for two adults and two juniors aged two to 12 years. Never too early to teach children what women are good for.
Players have to sign contracts agreeing to “accidental nudity”. There’s nothing accidental about it: flesh exposure is virtually guaranteed. The contract states: ” … Performances hereunder may involve accidental nudity. Player knowingly and voluntarily agrees to provide player’s service … and has no objection to providing services involving player’s accidental nudity.”
If they wear any additional items of clothing under the lingerie they will be fined $500. Apart from All Star matches, they are not paid. And they are at serious risk of injury. In fact, the league brags about all the injuries suffered by female players.
It is a mix of voyeurism and violence.
League founder Mitch Mortaza proudly states the game is “brutality, sport and entertainment combined into one”.
For entertainment, read getting an eyeful of female flesh and hot and sweaty girl-on-girl action.
Mortaza admits “the only reason this league is getting so much attention (over other female ‘sports’) is because of the outfits”.
One male sports blogger says LFL is “the closest we will get to live stadium porno” and admitted: “I just would never go to a game to watch their athletic talent.”
Martin Winquist, writing at The Sheaf, says: “Both the lingerie and the padding (consisting of modified football shoulder pads, optional elbow pads, knee pads and hockey helmets with half-visors) are minimal enough to ensure none of them obscure the usually ample cleavage of the athlete. If you’re an ass and legs person though, don’t fret; the booty shorts and required garter make sure the girls’ (breasts) don’t monopolise one’s ogling.”
The LFL doesn’t seem to think women are talented enough to play sport fully clothed.
Tampa Breeze Florida player Liz Gorman told CBC Radio earlier this year what it is like to wear uniforms designed for maximum flesh exposure:
“Oh. Well … well, honestly … I don’t like it. I’d rather wear full clothing. Because when you fall, it literally rips your skin. I’d love more clothing, but at the same time like any sport, the players don’t get to choose the uniform.”
But some fans want even more: “Nude football would be better – make it happen bastards,” wrote one.
And another: “The LFL sucks now. It used to be the girls wore ‘Booty Shorts’, meaning they, ya know, SHOWED BOOTY. It seems that they made the bottoms way more conservative. Just saw the LFL Bowl and there was virtually no ass-cheek showing.”
This exploitation of women’s bodies for profit undermines real sportswomen. Mainstreaming stripper-style representations of women – including in sport – sets back the cause of equality and fair treatment.
CONTINUING to depict women in sexualised roles – including on the sports field – dashes our hopes of growing a generation of empowered young women. It reinforces the notion that if a young woman wants to play sport she has to bare her flesh and be publicly sexual. Already many girls avoid playing sport because of body-image concerns.
The Australian Government Ausport website acknowledges this: “While sexploitation is most commonly associated with elite athletes, the matter cannot be completely divorced from community and amateur sport. There is undoubtedly a flow-on effect.”
It sends conflicting and confusing messages to the community and to other athletes. It also undermines the efforts to achieve equal credibility for all women athletes.
Fortunately, the Australian Sports Commission does not recognise lingerie football. It says the LFL does not adhere to the “core principles of sport in Australia – fairness, respect, responsibility and safety”.
However, it can’t do anything to stop it.
That’s why we have to. There’s a campaign against corporate sponsors including the Brisbane Entertainment Centre, Allphones Stadium Sydney, Telecafe, Seven Yahoo, Yahoo Sports and Triple M.
Federal Sports Minister Kate Lundy is also being lobbied to intervene. Tell these companies that trading in the bodies of underpaid semi-naked women who risk injury for male entertainment does not constitute sport.
It’s rare to see a man talk so honestly about how frequent on-line porn use impacts real world relationships. While of course the author appears to be writing from a purely selfish perspective: this is how porn screws with my sexual relationships and why I gave it up for four days – rather than a realisation of its mass industrialised dehumanisation of women – at least it may give other men cause to examine their own compulsive habits. And, hopefully, for women to seek men who want something more than porn sex.
David Rothbart relays how porn re-shaped the desires of a number of men – men who previously had happy, loving relationships with their partners. Here’s what some of them told him.
Perry, 41, lawyer:
“I used to race home to have sex with my wife… Now I leave work a half-hour early so I can get home before she does and masturbate to porn…Not to be mean, but they’re younger, hotter, and wilder in the sack than my wife…Me and her, we still ‘do it’ and everything, but instead of every day, it’s maybe once a week. It’s like I’ve got this ‘other woman’ … and the ‘other woman’ is porn.”
Stefan, 43-year, composer:
“I’ve got to resort to playing scenes in my head that I’ve seen while viewing porn. Something is lost there. I’m no longer with my wife; I’m inside my own head.”
Ron, 27, architecture student:
“I guess I’ve been fading from her. It’s like all that time with these porn stars was subduing any physical desire for my girlfriend. And, in some weird way, my emotional need for her, too.”
And here’s what one woman had to say.
Sadie, 29 real-estate agent:
“There is no glory in trying to make love to men who only know how to f**k—man after man after man after man raised on porn…A lot of guys have come to expect P.S.E. [the ‘Porn-Star Experience’] as a common thing… A few [women] might enjoy it, but for most it’s harrowing. I think there’s a fear that if they can’t make it happen, their boyfriend will retreat online.”
Porn’s socialising effect on boys: girls pressured to provide naked images
In a piece titled ‘They Know What Boys Wants’ by Alex Morris, the New York Magazine also gave us an inside look at how porn is shaping the attitudes of boys towards the girls in their lives. Rarely is there the slow-burn of a relationship developing: girls are treated as living sexual performances from younger and younger ages. Porn conditions boys to becoming sexually demanding. Girls have to pay for relationships with sexual tokens. In an account relayed to me last year, a schoolgirl was told by a boy: “If you give me [oral sex] I’ll give you a kiss.”
This extract from the New York Magazine piece:
“I wouldn’t mind if they said, ‘Send me a picture of you,’ just a regular picture, with everything on,” says Samantha…“But it’s like the way they ask for it? Naked?”
Tricey nods. “It affects them, the Internet. The guys expect to just chat girls up online, but when y’all see each other and y’all go out or whatever, the only thing that they want to do is get in the bed.”
Star, who’s 14, rolls her eyes. “Yeah, that’s the only thing they talk about.”
“I think they’re pressured by the Internet,” says Tricey. “When you see some of those things, you actually get a negative mind.”
Samantha frowns. “They see a pretty girl on the computer, big boobs or whatever, so they’ll be like, ‘Okay, I want a girl like that.’ ”
Do you relate to any of these accounts? Willing to tell me about it? You can post as a blog comment or contact me through the form at the top of this page.
Kanye West petition update
Well wasn’t that fun. After being attacked and ridiculed in The Punch on Wednesday, I woke yesterday morning to find 2000 additional signatures on our Care2 petition protesting Kanye West’s horror porn music video Monster. Another 3000 were added during the day, which meant we had surpassed our goal of 10,000. There are now 13,500 signatures.
Buddy Franklin and Nena&Pasadena and their porn inspired tees update
The AFL has had nothing to say to my question asking how Hawks star Lance ‘Buddy’ Franklin’s porn-inspired t.shirts fit in with the League’s ‘Respect and Responsibility policy. See my piece from ABC The Drum Unleashed here . Hello AFL, we’re waiting! Or don’t you think it matters that your players are flogging t.shirts which reduce women to sex objects?
Dull, derivative, repetitive
While we’re waiting for a response from the AFL, you must read this from a fashion industry insider, posted in comments to my ABC piece:
Fashion Merchandise Planner, 16 Feb 2011 9:07:28pm
You are seriously deluded if you think what you produce is fashion. Having worked in the industry for over 20 years for some of Australia’s leading retailers and fashion houses (both high end and mass market) I can tell you that what you produce is barely a blip on the Australian fashion scene and you wouldn’t rate a mention anywhere it counts… ‘edgy’ give me a break… bogan streetwear more like it. Maybe a Design Degree would give your ‘designers’ a richer troff to plunder from. The t-shirts are dull, derivative, repetitive and would do well in the markets. I don’t normally get personal but to sell your two bit company as an Australian success story is really stretching it. You produce unimaginative dull T-shirts for 20 somethings who think that a naked woman on a T-shirt is an artistic statement.
I am neither a Christian nor a prude just a highly successful and respected retail professional who has seen people like you come and go in droves. Believe your own marketing spin at your peril.
Lets have this conversation in two years time… or will you like the hundreds of other ‘talented designers’ crying into your beer and complaining that no one understands how you suffer for your art.
You produce unimaginative cheap T-shirts lets just call it what it is. You know sex sells and you are too dull to come up with anything better that tits and arse… congratulations you just discovered sex… like no one has ever done that before…
Nena + Pasadena’s fashion statement celebrating the objectification of women
Wondering how some of our footballers are putting their Code’s ‘Respect and Responsibility’ policies into practice?
Curious as to whether all the effort that has gone into addressing sexual misconduct, harassment, indecent exposure, violence and other myriad manifestations of disrespect for women? (You’ll find some here)
Perhaps Hawthorn star Lance “Buddy” Franklin can help us answer these important questions?
Here’s some t.shirts he has designed – and is seen here proudly modeling – for his Nena and Pasadena brand.
Franklin is headless wearing in the t.shirts above. But of course it’s him.
A topless women, with her breast and nipple visible, has her head wrapped in a scarf. Perhaps that’s because her face – and her full humanity – don’t count that much. A headless woman, her butt cheeks glowing and emphasised. Because, again, no need to bother with her face. The man in the photo with her is not revealing his backside. They pretty much never do.
Another image depicts a topless woman covering her breast with her hand. ‘Angel of silence’ reads the slogan. The best kind of women right? They let their bodies do the talking and keen their mouths shut. This image features on billboards.
Up until a short time ago the same ‘Angel of Silence’ image was also the profile picture for Nena and Pasadena’s facebook page. It’s been replaced with a new one of Franklin in a t.shirt with a bearded man on it. That man has clothes on.
The AFL’s Respect and Responsibility Policy “represents the Australian Football League’s commitment to addressing violence against women and to work towards creating safe, supportive and inclusive environments for women and girls across the football industry as well as the broader community”.
In serious tones, the Code informs us that ”in March 2009, the AFL, in cooperation with State League/TAC Cup Clubs, commenced delivering a State League Respect and Responsibility Module. The aims of the Module are to:
• Promote safe and inclusive environments for women and girls at all levels of Australian Football and the wider community;
• Increase players understanding of how sexual assault, violence, harassment and abuse can affect the lives of women and girls;
• Provide practical information that assists players to understand the meaning of consent, and identify situations that have the potential to go wrong; and,
• Provide players with information that may assist them to build and maintain social relationships with women that are healthy and respectful.
I asked anti sexual violence campaigner Nina Funnell, who trains other elite sporting codes on their attitudes towards women, sex and consent, what impact she thought these t.shirts could have:
It is vital that sporting codes and individual athletes who undertake and commit to respectful relationship courses are consistent in their behavior. To superficially pay lip service to respecting women while simultaneously perpetuating attitudes or behaviors that either objectify or harm women is not only disingenuous and insincere, it is destructive as it undermines respect for women as a value. To send a confusing message on this topic is worse than sending no message at all.
AFL players are recognisable public figures. They get paid the big bucks for a reason and it is their responsibility to exercise due diligence in thinking through the issues and brands they endorse. Like other athletes and public figures, they must take responsibility for this. “
The t.shirts are a form of harassment. They normalise sexualised representations of women and send a message that women are merely ornaments and decorations whose sole role is to bare their flesh and gratify men. They erode efforts of the AFL to change the disrespectful attitudes of many of their players. And they make the work of women like Nina Funnell even harder.
Does Franklin share the patronizing and dismissive views of his business partner Tim Arandt who has been sending this reply to Collective Shout members who have voiced their complaint?
Thanks for your comments and views but we feel we know what young people want to wear so we choose to continue our design concepts in full. I have three teenage boys of my own and have discussed your email with them, they were humored by your thoughts and added that the 6 o’clock news contained far more adult contact than a tshirt!! If you feel that we degrade women or promote violence against women please further your emails to the editor of the herald sun.
So teenage boys are now the leading experts on understanding the nuances of how the repeated sexualisation of female bodies affects young women’s self esteem and experience of public space? They are the arbiters of cultural standards regarding young women? The same boys whose views are reflected in a recent White Ribbon foundation report which found that one in seven teen boys thinks it is permissible to hold a girl down and force her to have sex if she has flirted or ‘led the guy on’.
But back to Buddy Franklin. Interesting to see he weighed in on the St Kilda nude photo scandal.
“I know that the AFL puts in place things at a young age, as soon as you get drafted, where you’ve got to be smart enough to know what’s going on in your private life and not to do things that are going to get out in public.”
Maybe Lance buddy, you should have kept those t.shirts of yours in a cupboard.
Channel 9 media celebrity Kerri-Anne Kennerley has attracted attention for her comments on Mornings with Kerri-Anne, likening women who are picked up by male footballers to strays. She was discussing with former AFL star footballer Peter ‘Spida’ Everitt, the alleged assault of a 20-year-old university student by a group of men including two Collingwood players after their premiership win.
Everitt had posted a number of tweets on the incident, suggesting it was a case of morning- after regret and that girls who go home with footballers shouldn’t be expecting Milo.
Men, said Kennerley, “put themselves in harm’s way by picking up strays”. She also asked what was it women expected in such situations and said that in alcohol fuelled scenarios at 3am “no one party can be blamed”. In a statement of ‘clarification’, Nine said: “Not one party can be blamed for this. The responsibility lies with the girls as well as with the guys when you’re talking about alcohol-fuelled situations at three o’clock in the morning.”
Let’s unpack these comments a little shall we?
“Picking up strays”
Women are to be compared with stray animals, like cats or (worse) dogs? We know that 85% of victims will never report to police. And people wonder why. When they risk being called, liars, sluts and now “strays”, why would any woman who has just been through a terrible ordeal also want to sign up for that?
It is probably unintentional, but Kennerley is sending a message to rape victims and to girls everywhere that if they are raped they will be vilified and humiliated. In so doing, they are re-abused.
“What do they expect?”
Maybe they expect not to be subjected to rape? Maybe they expect they won’t be sexually assaulted or subjected to any other criminal offense?
“They have to learn”
They have to learn that they could be seen as causing the assault? Leading him on? Contributing to it in some way? Women have to learn because they should expect to be sexually assaulted? As a commenter here said, “Men will be men”. And another: “The law holds men responsible for their behaviour whilst inebriated and specifically does not hold women responsible for their behaviour in the same state. Hence this situation is inevitable.”
More rape apologism suggesting rape is inevitable.
“No one party can be blamed”
If a man assaults a woman, is he not to be blamed? If a man takes advantage of a woman who is under the influence, she has not given consent. Therefore it is unlawful.
Drunkenness is not an invitation for sex. The inability to say no doesn’t mean a woman has said yes.
Sexual Assault for Dummies
Remarkably, grown men still need to be taught that if a woman is out of it, she can’t agree to sex. In the AFL’s Respect and Responsibility manual, under a section of checklist items to help a man know consent has been given, it states:
When is consent freely given? When she’s conscious – AWAKE!
MTR comments on The Morning Show
I also responded specifically to Kennerley’s comments on Channel 9’s Today Show this morning. Please follow this link to view.
There’s been some excellent commentary on this issue the last couple of days. These pieces deserve to be read.
A woman can’t be a little bit pregnant, she can’t be a little bit dead, she can’t be a little bit equal, and she most certainly can’t be a little bit sexually assaulted.
If consent is absent, rape has occurred. There is no grey.
While the details get shuffled about – the code, the players, the seedy nightclub providing the backdrop – in essence the same story is being retold. Footballers and sexual assault. The same story and frequently, the same public reaction: scepticism. Read more.
No men, including footballers, are entitled to sex with drunk women.
Women ask to be raped. Women fabricate rape allegations to assuage guilt. Rape victims are sluts and strays. These are some of the attitudes that have been unearthed this week following a police investigation into sexual assault allegations made by a 20-year-old woman.
The woman alleges she was the victim of a sexual assault involving a number of men, including two Collingwood players. The incident was said to have occurred in South Melbourne on Sunday morning, just hours after Collingwood defeated St Kilda in the grand final rematch. Read more.
In my perusings of the modern media landscape, a worrying trend has come to my attention: young men who apparently just can’t stop having non-consensual sex with others. It’s a tricky problem, and one to which there are, clearly, no easy solutions. I mean, it’s all very well to say “No means no”, but as popular ex-footballer/arachnid Peter “Spida” Everitt says, when a girl goes home with a guy at 3am, it’s not for a cup of Milo. So we can see there are two sides to every story: on the one hand, a young lady might feel violated, but on the other hand, why do these women keep going round to strangers’ houses in the hopes of having some Milo? Why don’t they buy their OWN Milo? Young people today, I ask you.Read more.
So here we are again – women are sluts and men are morons.
That would appear to be the view of many who have decided to venture opinions on the police investigation involving a number of young men, including two Collingwood footballers, over allegations of sexual assault.
The facts as known are simple. A young traumatised woman has told police she was raped. Experienced detectives used to dealing with sexual assault victims found her credible. Read more.
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