Sunday, May 17, 2009

can we have a different conversation?

This week has been kind of depressing.

The latest rugby league sex scandal has that 'same same, but different' smell about it. It's the smell of old bullshit, being trotted out again and fed to us as though 'shock' and scandal' are agents for change, and not just good sexy tools to sell papers. If you are overseas, in a coma or wisely don't consume media, find out from Caroline Overington's excellent article on the happenings of the week.

Me, I'm just thinking... OK, here we go again. I'm glad that we're having a conversation, but I'm pretty sure that we're having the wrong one.

Can we stop asking 'Should Matty Johns pay for his team-mates actions? And should he lose his career? And will his wife forgive him? Can we stop asking what this 'incident' will do to the code? Can we stop talking about sexual degradation of women in the context of drunken footballers and widen the debate a bit?

He res what I'd like to talk about:

1 in 4 girls sexually assaulted before the age of 18.
1 in 7 boys sexually assaulted before the age of 18.
The drastic under-reporting of sexual assault to police.
The very low rate of conviction for those assaults that are reported and tried.

I worked as a counsellor for a sexual assault service for a couple of years. I supported a number of clients through court cases and I've seen what goes on in courtrooms. I've watched defence lawyers work to shred a reputation, and I've witnessed young girls being sacrificed to the system - traumatised once by the crime, and again by the courts.

This issue is bigger and nastier than a few overpaid, underbrained sportsmen. I can't help but feel that this weeks 'scandal' is going to make some sensational headlines for a week or two and then slip quietly away. Again. Fatty Vautin summed it up for me, when after Matthew Johns initial weak apology on the Footy Show, Fatty smacked him affectionately on the back and said 'Well done, mate. And now, on with the show.'

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Thanks for talking to me. I don't got cooties. Oh, except for when I got cooties.