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Women who cry wolf

By Elizabeth Lakey - posted Thursday, 10 February 2011

On January 29, a short article appeared in the The Age online.

Four sentences of this article were devoted to the fact that Police have cleared two Collingwood footballers, Dayne Beams and John McCarthy, of alleged sexual assault following grand final celebrations in 2010. It stated that Mr Beams and Mr McCarthy denied wrongdoing and co-operated with the investigation.

In stark contrast to the brouhaha that erupted when allegations were made by an unnamed female in October last year, the media have by and large glossed over this story.


A mere four sentences pales in comparison to the deluge unleashed by multiple Fairfax media commentators baying for blood and decrying the rampant misogyny of the AFL.

Prominent ex-footballer “Spida” Everitt and Kerri-Anne Kennerley questioned the legitimacy of the rape claim, and public opinion was divided. However, the academic backlash was profound.

Columns appeared describing rape experiences and the educated rushed to condemn those who ascribed some responsibility to the woman involved.

Nina Funnell opened her denunciation with outrage at anyone who questioned the validity of the anonymous female’s claims. “Woman ask to be raped … Rape victims are sluts and strays.”

Leslie Cannold eagerly told us about her own rape experiences, further adding that the Kennerleys and Everitts of the world did nothing but perpetuate the idea that if women put themselves in harm’s way, it is their own “stupid, sluttish fault.”

Let me make one thing perfectly clear. Like these commentators, I do not and will never condone rape. I do not believe that men are uncontrollable animals who must be pleased physically by women who fall in their paths.


Unfortunately, I do not believe that these commentators had the full picture.

There is no doubt that a streak of misogyny runs through football culture. The emergence of a number of measures (such as the AFL’s Respect and Responsibility Policy) to tackle this problem speaks of its severity amongst the ranks of our elite sportspeople. But men are not the only problem here.

Having grown up in country Victoria, I have direct experience of the glamorous sheen that comes off footballers and attracts women to them. Female flocks are very aware of what they are doing and also very calculating in their attempts to be noticed by footballers.

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About the Author

Elizabeth Lakey is a PhD student at the National Centre of Excellence for Islamic Studies at the University of Melbourne.

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