May 13, 2009

Thoughts on the Code of Silence

There are many things I'd like to say about the current group sex scandal sweeping the National Rugby League. The biggest WTF? is of course the idea that standing around with a bunch of your teammates while you take turns with a young lady or enjoy your own "ballwork" is some sort of heterosexual bonding exercise, and not a thinly-veiled excuse for a lot of latent homoerotic navel-gazing.

But I've decided instead to help NRL footballers as they grapple with the tricky issue of navigating women in a social setting. I've done this by constructing an easy-to-read flowchart.

I'm happy for David Gallop & Co to use that as much as they'd like.

I would, however, like to make some brief remarks about a certain idea/phrase/excuse that's been cropping up a lot in regards to the Christchurch girl at the centre of a group sex incident involving Cronulla players. It runs along these lines:

"Why is she bringing this up after seven years?" - "Everyone's moved on, why bring up the past?" - "She may have done more harm than good dredging up old memories."

Can you imagine suffering a serious trauma and having someone say that to you? Since when was there a statute of limitations on emotions, or personal experience?

Would people say to Denise and Bruce Morcombe - "Guys, come on? Daniel's been inexplicably missing for nearly six years! Move on!"

Would people say to the victims of the Bali bombings - "People! Over seven years already! Build the bridge!"

Would people say to children who suffered abuse at the hands of priests or Christian Brothers - "Guys, long time ago. Don't ruin a top bloke's career over this."

I find myself incredulous that some people cannot make this simple connection in their brains. That just because one party involved in a sordid/ regretful/ hurtful/ controversial event has "moved on", doesn't mean everyone else can, or has to. Experiences stay with people. Time may eventually heal the wound; sometimes all it can do is fade the scar.

The concept of "moving on" is sound; and it's only appropriate that people try - through counselling, medication and other methods - to overcome experiences of trauma through acceptance, in order to live a productive, or at least bearable, life. But there is no stopwatch. There is no final bell or siren you must give, before locking the door forever on that corner of your brain.

Of course, the double standard in this case is clear - it's an incident involving sex, women and the grimy, blurry line of consent. I'm passing no judgement on that event in particular; merely to condemn those who would in turn condemn a young woman for daring to remember what happened to her.


  1. I really liked the flow-chart, and linked to it on Facebook.

  2. Succintly put

    As to time healing old wounds, no matter the size of the wound there will be a scar, one that the perpetrator cannot see but one that is noticed on a daily basis by the scarred one.

    I wonder whether the others of this group of macho? men will be put under the spotlight or will Johns be the sacrificial lamb?

    I suppose it will depend on their importance to the club's aspirations

    The Ancient Man

  3. This flow chart is very very clever indeed. I'd like to start a campaign to print them out nad paste them up at clubs all over the city.

  4. Great flowchart. I must agree with the shocking responses to the story that I've read. One comment from a news site suggested that it was the woman's fault, suggested she should have stayed home and learned to cook, and that he (i'm not kidding) "missed the good old days where men worked and women knew their place". (i'm hoping it was some sort of joke that went over my head??)

  5. i had a really awesome comment written but my web browser ate it. if only my white brain matter was less dissolved thanks to inactivity...

    also: you frightened me with your image of rugby players in dresses. i've seen it on caxton st, it's all kinds of wrong. i implore you never to do that to me again! please?

    til next....
    ~kits~ (sucks big time at this loitering thing)

  6. That flowchart is great! Fantastic post.
    I seriously think that the issue of sexual assault is to the NRL, players and clubs like the Stolen Generation was to Howard.
    If these footballers were real men, then they'd 'man up' about what they've done and continue to do.
    C'mon Gallup, "sorry" is at least a start. Just ask Kevin Rudd for advice on how to say it.

  7. I may not have been reading the right news sources, but what the other dozen involved?.

    I camp in the definition of Role Model being earned and not passed out by default due to regular appearances on the tele and high incomes, if THAT was the case half the Bandito's could be classed as Role Models too. *cough*

    At least Swimming AU hung Darcy out for the crows, and deservedly so. People who pay for these sports people are DIRECTLY responsible for the behaviour due the culture of covering up their 'indiscretions' because of the money spent. That's why, unfortunately, it's up to the media to hang them.

  8. One man's career or a young woman's sanity?

    Great post.

  9. Thank you. When I heard of this incident, the woman hadn't really been mentioned, and I didn't know it was her raising the matter that had led to it being discussed.

    Now I know far more about it, and I am disgusted yet again at the awful behaviour of some people. Having consensual sex with one person does not indicate your consent to engaging in consensual sex with the rest of the f***ng team for goddsakes.

    I know it happens. Lots of things happen in life, it doesn't make it OK.

    There's a lot more needs to be said about this incident, and a lot of people need to think about their attitudes to the whole thing.

    Sex is only a team thing if all involved want it to be that way.

  10. I read some 'anonymous' rep player quoted today who was disgusted they were being singled out since they were all consenting adults (hmmm...) and it'd be the same as if they were gay - they were being discriminated against based on their sexual preference. Boggles the mind. I agree with Annabel Crabb's position - the gents involved could do us all a favour next time by just leaving the girl out of it, since she's completely surplus to requirements for what they really want to get up to.

  11. Thank you. So long as there are still people out there who make statements like those, there will still be rapes going unreported, or unpunished. The rest of us need to speak up as you have done here and state very clearly that this behaviour is unacceptable and that demonising the alleged victim (whether or not those allegations are founded) achieves NOTHING positive.

  12. The rape is inexcusable. The guys involved are football players, barely able to put more the four words together that make sense. Why would anyone defend that type of person? They kick leather balls, in anger, what did anyone expect?