Image credit: here. Matthew Johns makes the wrong apology on The Footy Show.
Guess who really knows how that feels?
This week Australian current affairs program, Four Corners presented a devastating program on rugby league’s problem with sexual violence against women. Among the many incidents the program had at its disposal (spoilt for choice) to use in exploring this issue was one involving a group of professional players, including ‘nice guy’ Matthew Johns executing a truly debasing group sex session on a nineteen year old woman some seven years ago. The woman has been suffering post-traumatic stress syndrome since and has been suicidal. (She bravely participated in an interview for the Four Corners program, and her testimony is heart-breaking stuff).
Matthew Johns’ apology on The Footy Show, which proceeded by a few days the airing of the Four Corners program, is well worth a viewing if only as a study in male attitudes towards sexual violence and exploitation. Why do men let other men rape? Your answer is right there in co-host Paul Vautin’s ‘maaaaate’ response. Johns’ brief apology, which is made not for emotionally traumatising a nineteen year old woman but for embarrassing his family, is greeted with a supportive pat on the shoulder from Vautin and a “well said, let’s get on with the show”. No harm done.
“The program dealt with issues that I would hope everyone in the game finds appalling and unacceptable,” Gallop said. “The distress of the victims spoke for itself and to the extent that the game can apologise for the actions of individuals then I offer that apology unreservedly.”
“Violence against women is abhorrent and sexual assault and the degradation of women is just that.
“So much of what we saw last night was fundamentally indefensible.
“If anyone in the game today is ignoring the importance of that message, then frankly they will need to find another career.
“This is not a time for clubs and players to complain about the media or the fact that victims have spoken out.
“It’s a time to accept the changes we are putting in place or get out of rugby league.”
“Like everyone who saw the program last night, I feel enormous sympathy for the girl involved in the incident seven years ago,” said Zappia.
“As a family man I too found some of what was revealed to be unacceptable behaviour.”
But judging from this forum, many of the fans feel differently. Matthew Johns is seen as trapped by a media which is feeding on his plight as the only unlucky player to be named in that group sex incident. And the victim is Matthew Johns.
Anyway generally speaking the sympathy index for the ‘abused” footy groupie go-getter is resting on about “empty…. “Theyre predatory go-getters , ie the girls, after the BIG CATCH, on the make, todays take on women’s most ancient occupation , nothing else, albeit with a little less integrity than a street walker.
They are treated by these guys as badly as they allow themselves to be treated and come back for more.
Did the clever folk at 4 Corner consider the inevitable effect on the Johns family, particularly the young children? Did Sarah Ferguson consider the sorts of questions that M Johns’ young boys will be hounded with, probably for the rest of their school life? And, what of the public humiliation of Mrs Johns – with Mother’s Day right in the middle of the ABC’s self-promotion of this `expose’?
And for pure amusement value, the scientist of stupidity ‘tj’:
I have studied animal behaviour and evolutionary theory (Ed’s note: Of course you have!) because i enjoy the subject and i just wonder how many people have considered (or conducted thought experiments) on the following ideas:
I love sex. I enjoy having multiple partners. I am experienced and intelligent enough to define limits that ensure i am safe as i engage in these marvellous, fun and liberating expressions of my identity. Sometimes i prefer monogamy – it usually depends which drive is stronger at the time. I am a normal, socially functional, tolerant, beautiful, healthy, STD-free!, working professional (acutally, i’m scientist and i love it).
So, if the young lady concerned were to read this, i would want her take away a message that i believe the situation she has found herself in does not make her dirty, immoral or unconscionable – the only person who can place these labels on her and make them stick is herself. I believe it’s ok for sex to occur as she had it BUT as long as the parties involved are careful to think through the likely consequences before the act … So, it’s not the desiring or undertaking of multiple partners for sex that is the problem here. Rather, it’s the lack of thinking it through first …
These vile incidents of sexual violence and exploitation in professional football circles have given every misogynist in the country a regular platform to reinforce their absurd and repulsive little views in public. Every few months we get to reflect all over again on their assessment of some new horrific incident as a case of ‘sports groupies’ seeking revenge for hurt feelings or sluts behaving badly. The victim blaming is done under the protective cover of sports worship, a virtual religion in this country. The NRL needs to urgently address the problem of their players’ behaviour, not only for the safety of women who might come across them but because the game is taking us all down with it.