It pains me as a passionate supporter of the Collingwood Football Club to concede that our president, Eddie McGuire, is an embarrassment whenever he decides to speak on the subject of women and how our society treats them.
The formula is so infuriatingly predictable and lacking in any meaningful insight that one wonders how he can happily put his name to such tosh.
Recently (“Celebrities such as Katy Perry entitled to rights and privacy,” Herald Sun, November 28), McGuire decided it was time to remind all of the women out there that he has got their back and, knockabout bloke though he may be, he will not tolerate the subjugation or sexual objectification of women.
McGuire begins his article with words that are so blatantly inaccurate that I found myself thumbing the pages of an English dictionary to see whether the word secret had been redefined in recent days.
A secret is defined as something that is kept or meant to be kept unknown or unseen by others.
In launching White Ribbon Day on this page on Tuesday, Chief Commissioner of Police Ken Lay said, “For too many years, violence against women has been one of Australia’s dark secrets.”
I have been reading headlines in our major newspapers, watching documentaries, seen endless advertising campaigns, and stared at huge billboards alerting me to the fact that violence against women happens and is not acceptable for nigh on four decades. If the reality of domestic violence in our society is still a secret, then our entire community must be blind, deaf, and dumb.
The only subject to match the irony of such a clearly false statement is the notion that we need to raise awareness of breast cancer. These words are attached to every one of the countless charities and fundraisers that continue to add millions to the bulging coffers of breast cancer charities. A visitor from outer space could be forgiven for believing that breast cancer is the only cancer that affects humans. But still, the line is used unashamedly, even as we are surrounded by pink on an inordinate number of days throughout the year.
With regard to domestic violence, there is a fact that is kept secret, unknown and unseen by others. People like Ken Lay and McGuire ensure this is the case by refusing to acknowledge male victims. But that is a discussion for another day.
McGuire quotes the gender bigot, Ken Lay, again:
We also know that attitudes and violence are related. We know vulgar attitudes toward women contribute to their abuse.
Mental illness, alcohol and drug abuse, financial pressures, and reciprocal violence are apparently not the concern—it all comes down to men with bad attitudes beating up women cause they can. Simple.
Now McGuire leaps onto the subject of Katy Perry and her recent run-in with the Australian paparazzi:
Perry, enjoying a rare time off on her Australian tour, decided to spend the day at the beach, choosing a nudist beach in Mosman, presumably for its privacy.
McGuire goes on to describe how Perry was aggressively harassed and then, “according to the singer,” they tried to browbeat her into a pact with the devil:
“Give us a photo of yourself in a bikini and we’ll leave you alone” was the gist of the threat/deal.
Apparently a member of the paparazzi took off his clothes to continue trying to photograph her. McGuire writes:
To her credit, Perry returned serve and took snaps of her own of the photographic pack while tweeting to her 60 million followers. Good on her for being a role model to young women.
McGuire has done what countless feminist have done for decades. He takes one interaction between a female and some males and immediately holds it up for all to see as something men do to women.
He makes no mention of the fact that countless male celebrities are stalked and harassed by the same paparazzi and photographed when naked or semi-naked. Jude Law had full frontal photos of himself published when he was photographed changing on a balcony. He was also mocked for the size of his genitals. I don’t recall anyone condemning the paparazzi when this occurred.
John Hamm, star of the Mad Men series, has experienced ongoing stalking by the paparazzi and the obsession many have with the size of his genitals. Hamm expressed his disapproval for the “John Hamm’s Wang” Tumblr, saying:
They’re called privates for a reason. I’m wearing pants, for fuck’s sake. Lay off. I mean, it’s not like I’m a fucking lead miner. There are harder jobs in the world. But when people feel the freedom to create Tumblr accounts about my cock, I feel like that wasn’t part of the deal.
But all we have in response to such harassment is hearty chuckles and a wink and a nudge.
McGuire clearly has no idea that men are subjected to this objectification on a daily basis. Does Ken Lay believe this is what creates an attitude in our society that says beating up men is okay or in any way acceptable?
But the most crucial aspect of this issue is entirely ignored by “the one good man,” Eddie McGuire.
Who is the target audience for the wicked paparazzi? Who are the people who make these stalkers rich? Why, none other than the very women McGuire is so desperate to protect! These photos of semi-naked celebrities, be they male or female, fill the pages of women’s magazines. That’s right—magazines produced for and devoured by women.
Let’s name but a few: New Idea, Women’s Weekly, Who Magazine, Cleo, New Weekly, and Women’s Day.
It is our females who feed the paparazzi frenzy. Without an audience, the photos have no value and the paparazzi die. It is women who pore over the cellulite on a celebrity’s backside or the boob job on show as a bikini-clad celeb emerges unsuspecting from the swimming pool or sea.
The great majority of men do not purchase these magazines. Who is doing the objectifying in our society? Who is supporting the harassment of our celebrities?
Lay and McGuire make no mention of this important fact.
You would think that McGuire, being the president of an AFL club, would be fully aware of the groupies who stalk the young footballers.
A recent article by Andrew Rule, a respected Herald Sun journalist, presented a rare but very welcome sense of balance to the issue of sexual objectification in the wake of the Stephen Milne rape case.
Rule writes with regard to the St. Kilda footballers:
The Saints were no saints but bad behaviour ran both ways.
One star was mildly shocked to be lured to his girlfriend’s parents’ house – only to be greeted by the girl’s 40-something mother, home alone and nude except for a fur coat, as was clear when she opened the door, then the coat. Tricky etiquette problem, that.
Football’s all-time scoundrel Fred Cook, expert in debauchery, modestly admits he and his mate Sam Newman were sex objects exploited by every “Big M girl” in the troupe of bikini models promoting the flavoured milk drink.
Somewhere out there, almost respectable middle-aged mothers are blushing or pretending they haven’t read this.
At least they are more anonymous than a famous prime minister’s daughter who entertained Cook and Newman in Peter Janson’s Hugh Hefneresque apartment at the Windsor Hotel.
McGuire must have no knowledge of such disgusting sexual objectification of our footballers, for surely he would have otherwise mentioned it.
A former Herald reporter, Kate Nancarrow, once spent weeks with female sports groupies, then wrote a mesmerising magazine story exposing the sordid underbelly of the “glamorous” scene where naïve, desperate, disturbed or cynical young women pursued young men treated like heroes but in many ways immature, irresponsible and spoilt or worse.
The story, Sirens, was published years before the Milne incident, but not much had changed. It tracks groupies in the hierarchy from the changing room door to the nightclubs and awards nights.
Nancarrow talks to them all. From the pathetic, chain-smoking losers hanging outside changing rooms trying to swap sex for “friendship” to the predatory groups of competitive bachelor girls who cynically bed sportsmen for sport, through to ambitious “hunters” aiming to climb the red carpet on Brownlow night to catch a footballer husband.
So who is exploiting whom? The line between exploited and exploiter is as fuzzy as what another writer, Anna Krien, calls “the grey zone between rape and consent”.
Where are the demands from Ken Lay for our young women to be taught to respect our men and not treat them like toys made for their sexual gratification? Girls routinely assault and grope young males in boy bands and it is regarded as cute. If young men did the same to female performers, they would be facing jail time, and Ken Lay would point to yet another example of our disgraceful violence inducing attitudes to women in our society.
A few months ago, when the cast of Modern Family were here to shoot an episode, one of the female cast members Sarah Hyland, had her bottom squeezed by a fan, contrary to earlier reports that her breast had been touched.
Was this behaviour inappropriate? Undoubtedly, and Hyland had every right to be affronted. However, once again the thorny issue of outrageous double standards raises its ugly head. For decades we have witnessed young girls tearing the clothes off young male singers. They scratch, pull, grope, and grab, and the men are often left battered and licking their wounds after running the gauntlet of their screaming female fans. I don’t believe I have ever read one word of condemnation of this behaviour. Why? The sexual frenzy that possesses so many females at concerts or appearances is quite disturbing and has terrified many male pop stars over the years. Hyland’s bottom squeeze saw the intellectually challenged defendant go to court to face charges. What he did pales into insignificance when you look at the mauling that male pop stars have endured. There are sites where the sexual prowess and size of male rock stars/entertainers are rated. Yet this kind of objectification is never on Ken Lay’s or Eddie McGuire’s radar. No one gets a pat on the back or group hug for telling the world that females should respect males, so why would you bother?
McGuire goes on to pull out all the old, familiar lines:
Do we still think because a woman decides to dress in a certain way she’s fair game: if she’s famous, less human?
How sickening. Suddenly “we” (all men) are in the firing line. McGuire can barely contain his disgust. The he makes the link with rape:
And when Perry tells grown men who are threatening her to stop, that NO means NO. We must stop the conflicting messages—that there is a time to belt your wife or girlfriend or there is a type of woman who deserves respect and others who don’t.
It was at this point I believe I was entitled to believe that McGuire had become unhinged.
I had to read the lines two or three times before the true enormity of the idiotic, infantile, vacuous, inane, and imbecilic nature of these words hit home.
The paparazzi wish to take photos of a female celebrity who is wearing a bikini on the beach. This quickly transmogrifies into men believing there is a time to belt their wives or disrespect women on the basis of their appearance.
Again, McGuire underlines the infantile approach the White Ribbon mob has when speaking about domestic violence. It’s nothing a few short, sharp words from the boy from Broady won’t fix. It would surely go something like this: “Fellas—don’t belt the missus when you’ve had a bad day! It’s not acceptable behaviour.”
Job done—if only the men out there will take McGuire’s wise advice on board when they find themselves contemplating another belting of their missus.
No person has the right to intimidate anyone. Especially now we are calling for a new order in how we treat women in this country.
This sentence is breathtaking in the sheer scale of its absurdity. I found myself unable to frame a response for some time as I was too flummoxed by the notion that women in this country are treated in a manner that demands a new order. Note that he didn’t say some women or a minority of women—it is just women.
Does that include the hundreds of thousands of women living lives of great comfort, prosperity, and leisure with more choices open to them than any man could dream of having?
What and who was he referring to? I am genuinely bewildered. With men killing themselves at more than three times the rate of women, one could be forgiven for believing we need a new order for how we treat men in this country.
McGuire, like so many men involved in the media, knows how to win the approval of those who control how we think about the important “issues” of the day. He bows and scrapes at the feet of feminism and will do so for as long as he works in the media business. There is not one media man brave enough to question the lies being peddled on a daily basis. Even Andrew Bolt refuses to take on feminist lies.
Perhaps McGuire has spent too long at the Collingwood Football Club. Like him, I love the black and white stripes, but only a simple fool views life through a black and white lens. There are subtle shades of grey in every issue, but that is too complex a belief for McGuire to adopt.