A teenage girl says she was engaged in sex with two St Kilda Players. She also says she was sexually abused by a Police Officer, a person in a position of trust. She doesn’t think of herself as an outlaw.
Ironically the AFL loving southern media was quick to brand her a misfit and demonise her.
She was widely portrayed as symbolic of the social failings of a female child or young person, an architect of her own misfortune. It all sounded a bit simplistic, yet there were no shortage of journalists, enraged footy fans, voyeurs and particularly football officials all to ready to express their outrage at her actions. She stood condemned.
The alternative explanation advanced for her abherrent behaviour, which was pathologised, was that her failings were either partly or wholly a function of the failing of her parents.
There had to be a scapegoat for her appallingly unacceptable actions. Any scapegoat would do, whether it was herself, the AFL “groupies” phenomenon or perhaps even just women in general.
What were her appallingly unacceptable actions?
She used a personal computer, her ‘PC’, to publish photos on the internet, photos which painted a picture, and told a story which stood alongside a media narrative. They say a picture conveys a thousand words. So did the media narrative.
The pictures were described as “hurtful” and being intimate injurious to the reputation of the golden boys of AFL, team mates and…obviously ‘other mates’.
They revealed some inconvenient truths, truths which have been known for a long time about conduct in the AFL.
The photos were hurtful to the players and injured their reputation, not to mention their relationships with one another which are sacrosanct, and by extension their relationships with their corporate sponsors and the media which are inextricably intertwined.
The photos put the spotlight on their innocence and images and they were held up to scrutiny. What public interest would be at stake many ask? Beyond the obvious public expenditure by members, fans and investments in school clinics and education, there is the issue of the the treatment of women and the perpetuation of an attitude towards young women that was supposed to have been stamped out on Andrew Demetriou’s watch by his own concession.
As AFL officials conceded, albeit only tacitly, it tended to bring not only the players but the game of AFL and the St Kilda Football Club into disrepute.
The girl said she took these intimate photos herself with her own camera, a claim contested by the footballers who voiced their indignance and announced their intention to pursue her vigorously through the court system to vindicate their reputations.
Even if they succeeded it didn’t seem likely a “troubled”, disowned, disinherited 17 year old girl ‘ward of the state’ with “issues” would be able to satisfy any court judgement.
The immediate reaction saw Ross Lewin announcehe would be delighted to tie this girls’ life up for 15 years by vigorously pursuing legal action against her. Schizophrenically, Demetriou empathised deeply with the young girl with issues, extending his continued support to her from the AFL. There was a need for a quick response by the AFL in the media, however any person scrutinising these divergent responses would be left to conclude that they are difficult to reconcile.
There are two possible conclusions. One is that they are shooting from the hip, acting out of emotion without thoroughly consulting with one another as to the appropriate media response. Alternatively there is a rift between the St Kilda Football Club and the AFL, as represented by Demetriou. Either response could be encouraging in some ways. If they are going around saying what they really think this would be a breath of fresh air. In AFL in the past coaches, players and other officials have received enormous fines for everything from performing handstands to uttering simple and obvious truths.
On the other hand if there is a rift between them, there is possible hope if only there were some willingness within the AFL to stigmatise and apply pressure to clubs whose practices are out of step and fail in some way to meet a community standard. I havn’t seen any positive peer pressure resulting from anything Demetriou has said. I have only seen the AFL make what may seem an illegitimate act, without acknowledging their own systemic problems. After all Jesus said take the speck out of your own eye before you seek to take the speck out of a neighbour’s eye.
The girl’s behaviour seems reminiscent of what reporters do on occasion, particularly when information or photographs come into their possession which they claim it is in the public interest to publish.
Unfortunately it is becoming more common for persons who aren’t celebrities to act in a similar manner as a form of revenge upon a spouse or friend who they perceive has injured them in some form. On the internet everyone can be a journalist or a publisher as the barriers to entry are low. The percentage of people with access to a large audience has increased, but that hasn’t increased the number of people with the judgement to balance carefully the public interest and privacy interests. Where personally involved and in this girl’s case, tender in age, lacking an editor,the damage was done.
As previously stated, her actions bear a strong resemblance to the actions of Brendan Fevola towards his girlfriend Lara Bingle, a successful models when she was having a shower. In fact Fevola’s actions were far more egregious as she didn’t consent to even being photographed, let alone to the publication. The hypocrisy of the differential response to these two incidents is most telling of all I think. The AFL and Clubs didn’t condemn Fevola at all.
An ‘action’ that is not even worthy of punishment by the AFL warrants a life sentence to a mere mortal, a non-football player from the perspective of the AFL. It really reeks of a world view by the AFL of a society where there are two classes of individuals, them, and their players, people who matter and the rest of us, who don’t matter at all. This is all you can conclude.
Fevola could be fairly characterised as “troubled” by his long list of controversies. Was he meted out a 15 year suspension as advocated by Ross Lewin in punishing the “troubled teenager”. No punishment for Fevola, “troubled person” who matters and life changing consequences for a St Kilda school girl, who, like the rest of us, doesn’t matter.
Why were the culprits in the above examples not depicted en masse as wenches or “malicious trouble makers?”, with issues?
Perhaps who is doing the publishing and what was is published tells us something that can be found in any history book.
As events unfolded over the last couple of weeks we have come to learn that it just isn’t PC to use a computer to certainly publish or post things on the internet which are illegal? When the social condemnation co-incide with the law. Although Wikileaks may have done something illegal many advocate that Julian Assange is acting in the public interest.
It is clear that the court of public opinion can change.
History is written by the winners. President Nixon led condemnation of the leaks which ultimately revealed his much greater crime. Sometimes violating the law would be morally justified. This will always be a controversial decision.
What is bothersome is that the highest moral principles from the public’s point of view seems to be about the preservation of football claims. It depends on how we define politically correct and what it means in this context.
This is more about power, and something that goes beyond football. It is about the culture of cover up. It is about publishing the dirty secrets about saints and other phallusies.
Politically correct behaviour on a PC, seems to roughly translate to being powerful, whether in the sporting, business or professional field.
In the corridors of power and ‘respect’, particularly when dealing with well resourced, culturally or morally accepted entrenched institutions, society is more often than likely to find the publisher on the wrong side of politics, irrespective of the medium or the message.
The internet poses challenges, and the focus seems to be more on the medium, the PC and the internet, rather than the message.
It begs the question as to when is it PC to post material on the internet which is in the public interest? Whilst I support the actions of Wikileaks, it is clear that there on behalf of Julian Assange attract sympathy from the public? Apparently so.
History tells us that it is clear cut when it comes to dealing with people who aren’t part of our culturally and ideologically accepted institutions.
In the case of those who have dared to point the finger at Priests the media reflectively leaps to their defence . There has been a good deal of support and sympathy for the perpetrators, coming publicly and openly even from Prime Ministers, such as John Howard, who went so far to defend the actions of Peter Hollingsworth who condemned the wenches as manipulative of our high priests. The attitude of disdain for the victim was tolerated and upheld in effect by the Prime Minister of our country.
The average Joe hasn’t attracted as much sympathy or been able to spin a story so well of a sexually abusive minor taking advantage of them as have Priests.
The phenomenon of protecting the ugly truth from the public and covering up the sins of those who abuse their positions of power isn’t confined to the Priesthood.
To give another example, it isn’t widely known that many Psychiatrists have been hauled before Tribunals for repeated acts of sexual misbehaviour which don’t see the light of day in the mainstream media.
In this kind of atmosphere we can only speculate how many victims of sexual abuse of female patients by Psychiatrists don’t come forward and trust in the institutions which are supposed to be set up to protect the public from misdeeds.
In my next article I will demonstrate by referring to some of these cases just how prolific this unfortunate occurrence is within the psychiatric profession and the part that forensic psychiatry has played in releasing such ‘professionals’ back into positions of ‘trust’ with the unsuspecting public.
Doctors are held in high esteem and rarely are penalties meted out to Counsellors found to have engaged in abherrent behaviour which would see the average Joe cop a jail sentence.
Indeed these professionals have been for the most part supported by their profession, nurtured and their behaviour explained away so they can be given the green light to practice again. Out of sight, out of mind.
In many of these cases derogatory remarks are made by fellow professionals who testify for the errant counsellors and even those who judge their behaviour about the women patients who led them astray. In one case a leading Psychiatrist Graeme Burrows told a Medical Board that it was most unfair that a Doctor who had well known tendency to keep sexually assaulting women patients was given a chaperone to baby sit him that was too young and sexy. Dr Burrows explained in the Medical Board case that it was putting temptation in the way of the Doctor who had a ‘syndrome’, a syndrome that caused him to sexually assault unsuspecting female patients on a repeated basis. When the Doctor whose behaviour had already been excused many times over by the medical establishment sexually assaulted the young and sexy chaperone who was supposed to be preventing him from assaulting women patients he was treating, Dr Burrows advanced this argument. The Doctor should have been allocated a middle aged chaperone and it was most unfair to give him a chaperone who he was likely to assault being young and good looking!
I do commend Dr Burrows on his initiatives such as Beyond Blue, which deals with depression, however depression doesn’t selectively laser target sexually recidivist offender doctors. It can leave a trail of destruction in the form of victims and carnage, treatable of course, at least by a Doctor. The women are left with more “issues” than just being young and attractive chaperones or patients.
Could it be that some forms of using the internet to reveal private matters is just more PC than others?
It would seem that it is more politically correct to use a PC to disseminate information when it doesn’t involve allegations of wrongdoing concerning Saint-like football players, powerful politicians, businessmen and professionals such as Lawyers, Priests or Psychiatrists. Who would have imagined that a Lawyer would be given a pass after having sexually abused his step children in the confines of his legal practice. His behaviour was condoned and he was let off the hook, unlike the girls who he abused. He has a healthy legal practice today.
Psychiatry and law always seems to have a convenient explanation for the womens’ actions which contribute to the downfall of fine upstanding professionals who just occasionally fall by the wayside. No harm done. Let’s just sweep it under the carpet.
This is more so even when the errant professional on trial is one of their own kind. It is rarely played out in the public arena, however watch this space for an article which is probably likely to reveal more than the public can imagine about the level of tolerance for this kind of behaviour amongst these other kinds of priests held up on a pedestal by the public.
The public rarely gets to read about these examples of wrongdoing.
Invariably in cases of sexual misconduct by Psychiatrists it is always another Psychiatrist who testifies that the urges to engage in wrongdoing have ceased and the problem is fixable, unlike the women whose interests seem to be forgotten, and become part of the problem. There aren’t even any ‘respect and responsibility’ programs so at least the AFL is one up on the other priests.
The women instead end up bearing the scars, the judgement and the wounds when the Psychiatrist is once again deemed fit to practice their profession. In some instances as with all sexual deviance there is a level of recidivism which is further explained away before the Counsellor’s ticket is given back to them. Graham Burrows and a few other Psychiatrists such as Professor Bruce Singh keep on re-surfacing when it comes to defending Doctors and Psychiatrists who sexually abuse patients. In the case of Professor Singh he testified in a criminal case in the District Court against Dr Sabi Lal to the effect that he was too ill to form the mental intent to commit the many crimes he was charged with.
A few weeks later, in what could only be described as a psychiatric miracle Dr Bruce Singh, esteemed Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences at the University of Melbourne, told the Medical Board that there was little risk of Dr Sabi Lal ever practising again. Well in fact he did re-offend and once again there were many Psychiatrists including Professor Singh who ran to his side to tell the world he was still safe, and could practice on women. This was notwithstanding that he had continued committing more offences, of which he didn’t even inform his treating Psychiatrists of. There are many further examples which I shall give of Professor Singh and Professor Burrows’ behaviour for, as in any kind of legal proceedings, there are always the Hollywood rock star legal eagles and their ‘suitable’ forensic experts. These forensic experts develop an expertise of sorts in their area of sexual misconduct cases. There is an element of irony in Burrows turning up on a website promoting female interests such as www.femail.com.au
Freudian views on female behaviour seem alien and antiquated to many of us, yet it wasn’t all that long ago that spinning a woman around in a chair till her ears bled was regarded as acceptable psychiatric practice to cure women of their ‘hysteria’, a convenient euphemism for women who had suffered from the abuse of males in many cases. The males of course were just acting naturally and their behaviour went unchecked. Not much has really changed as I will demonstrate in my next post.
The Dikileaks saga isn’t just about women and AFL Hollywood rock stars. Rock stars are found in many places and are accorded special treatment.
The Dikileaks and Dikigate sage is more about the maligning of females, an age old phenomenon that has and will continue to occur every time a women of any age is abused by a male, particularly one in a position of authority which implicates one of our sacred moral or cultural institutions.
Human nature is such that everyone has an opinion and whilst we think we as a society are much more progressive, little has really changed.
Back to the heady world of AFL football, really just another form of priesthood and a repository of power.
‘AFL land’ is the fourth arm of Government in Australia.
The girl said her reputation was absolutely ruined and she was treated with disrespect in the community by others once it was discovered she was pregnant to a St Kilda Player. She says she was subjected to mockery and ridicule. She was on anti-depressants and couldn’t sleep. She tried to take her life and she lost two children she was carrying who she says were fathered by a St Kilda Football Player.
She has said she received abusive Facebook messages and voicemails from footballers over periods of months and her complaints weren’t taken seriously by those who turned their back on her, the football club, the AFL and the Police. She didn’t instigate a complaint, rather when she reported a pregnancy to her high school principal, the school reported it to the police who close the investigation.
She has transcripts of conversations where Football Players are vigorously urging her to participate in group sex, encouraging her to bring a friend. Little has been said about these by the powers that be in ‘AFL land’
She has been called a liar, a trouble maker, and labelled by the AFL as “the girl with issues“, by the media as the girl with the laptop who “added tech touch to wrath of a woman scorned“, “a child of the age of narcissism, using the uncontrolled medium of the age, acting out the age-old wrath of a woman scorned”
The vituperous outrage expressed towards a 17 year old girl seems repugnant only to a few commentators and journalists who have dare to challenge the masculine culture of the AFL and the heavy handedness of the officials who have vilified her.
When the AFL heavyweights have spoken of the injury and hurt to their players, legions of blinded fans have leapt to the defence of their beloved heroes without apprising themselves of the details surrounding the case. The 17 year old was dubbed a “vengeful teenager” intent on causing as much damage as possible to bring their heroes into disrepute.
Journalists havn’t let a careful analysis of the facts get int the way of partaking in what can only be described as a fanatical mass lynching of a young disenfranchised girl, now a ward of the State.
There is little reflection in the echo chamber of the southern media, which havn’t paused to examine the contradictions which evidently still run deep in our society, a society which prefers to inflict condemnation upon a victim rather than confront a problem and engage in some soul searching
In the last two weeks we have witnessed an example of the kind of cognitive dissonance which enables people to reflexively go into denial when faced with wrongdoing.
Wherever there are strict social mores often deviant behaviour is occurring behind the scenes, as people don’t report it, because of the element of stigma and shame associated with it. This tends to exacerbate the problem which is self-perpetuating. Nothing changes.
Several powerful institutions could do little to silence the teenager as she continued to post graphic images which quickly proliferated across the internet.
What happened then can only be described as dysfunctional on the part of the institutions which should have been standing up and taking a stand, instead of acting sanctimoniously and doing everything within their power to send a message to the girl and any other girls who may find themselves in a similar position.
Amazingly the response was parroted by a public eager to buy this rhetoric and accept the culture of cover up and deflection of blame.
If there is any dysfunctionality in modern society, one wonders where it really lies.