Thursday, 14 May 2009
On not getting it!
One suspects that Rugby player and (former) media personality Matthew Johns is in for a rude shock today or soon in the wake of his 'apology' for participation in fairly aggressive group sex behaviour. He just doesn't get it
Last night on A Current Affair (ACA), I thought interviewer Tracey Grimshaw made a good attempt at asking the hard questions. Johns also did well at fending off some of the difficult ones.
When, for example, Grimshaw asked him whether or not a 19 year old girl who began what may have been "consensual sex" in a room with two men and ended up participating with considerably more than that, was subject to a power imbalance he just seemed to ignore it. Either he doesn't get it or he knows how to play the media. Perhaps both.
Increasingly as I have participated in more and more of this sort of education I have understood that sexual abuse is firstly about power, and only secondly about sex.
When Grimshaw used the expression 'sexual abuse', Johns steadfastly asserted he had not been involved in abuse. He just doesn't get it!
When you can use your status, physique, and charisma to influence the consent that others might give there is potential for abuse.
The footballer's wife, Trish Johns, looked tragic......one fears that her pain will not be easily resolved. He does get that no amount of apology will undo that woman's pain.
Whilst agreeing that the moment the woman's inappropriate consent to have sex with two men became something worse when others joined in, he was asked to identify the other participants. Out of seeming team loyalty he was obviously not going to name those persons. Even though, as it was pointed out, those other persons are possibly guilty of sexual assault and/or rape (since the woman did not consent to have sex with them). He just doesn't get it.
Former Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Pru Goward, noted that the NRL should not condone Johns' refusal to pass apropriate evidence on to police (that may of course have been done).
There is of course the deeply disturbing issue that we may be witnessing damage control by the NRL and/or Channel 9. One suspects that the complainant will be already be being spoken to and great wads of cash are being waved at her.
Nor should we be satisfied to think that if the NRL deals with this then that solves the problem. It cannot be thought that this attitude towards women is confined to male sporting bastions.