I’m just getting that out of the way right at the start, though I may yet repeat it. Several times.
Andrew Baker, a scientist at the Queensland University of Technology has seized the opportunity presented by rugby league players raping women to write an opinion piece and get it published in The Australian Higher Education Supplement. No doubt it will count as community engagement in his next promotion application.
And there’s the first *headdesk* right there. That’s right, you poor chaps who have been blamed for all the trouble. It’s not your fault. It’s everyone’s fault. (Though that particular little piece of inanity is probably thanks to the subbie, not the scientist.)
Then it’s into genetics (Dr Baker is an expert in evolutionary genetics, and he has particular interests in biodiversity management, population and statistical genetics, systematics & taxonomy, palaeontology and philosophy of science). So we get the old story about how men like to spread their seed far and wide, and women like to protect their eggs. This is just a genetic driver, apparently.
And there’s the second *headdesk*. Biology is destiny, apparently.
Moving right along, it turns out that we have socialised those rugby league chaps very, very badly, and even worse, selected (nice evolutionary word there) gladiators to “tap into humanity’s brutish heritage” and then put them in positions of power. So it’s our fault. I’m not going to take a *headdesk* for that one, because it’s already in the headline. But maybe this is where the subbie got her or his ideas from.
Of course, there’s the obligatory paragraph talking about how he’s not condoning the footballers’ behaviour, nor is he blaming the victims. Instead, Dr Baker wants to work out how to change things in the future, given that we are responsible for the footballers raping women, rather than the footballers being responsible for it.
Parents and early childhood teachers need to teach children to be more respectful of self and others.
Two *headdesks* there. First, just who is responsible for most of the parenting and early childhood care work that is done, and has been done, and no doubt will continue to be done, in this country? Men, or women? I’ll give Dr Baker a hint on this – it’s not men. (Of course, there are at least some men, and increasing numbers of them, who are their children’s primary caregivers, and there are some men working in early childhood care, though the latter are very much the exception.) I see a spot of mother-blaming going on here, or at least, picking out women as the people who should be responsible for making men behave better. And the other *headdesk*? “Respectful of self…” That’s right!!! The problem with what the footballers did was that it wasn’t respectful of themselves.
But the real beauty of this piece comes in the final three paragraphs.
We can also surely reduce wanton misuse of women by an untamed minority of players. Women exercise their right to socialise with footballers and doubtless, for all the horrid stories, much of the time both parties thoroughly and responsibly enjoy themselves. But women ultimately control the precious resource that is themselves and they may need to guard it more zealously.
This will be easier if women more clearly understand what is driving some men in drunken nightclub scenarios.
Alcohol lubricates desire and the frustration men feel in suppressing their urge for indiscriminate sex in these situations may be enormous. Such frustration is more likely to find an explosive outlet in a male used to indulging deep primal instincts of team battle and lust. A woman leaving a nightclub with several such men may convince herself that she can at any time exercise her evolutionary option to choose. But as horrified victims of these misdeeds continue to discover, freedom of choice for women under these circumstances may well be an illusion.
A vile mixture of excuse making, victim blaming, and telling women that they are the people who are responsible for not letting themselves be raped.
*headdesk* *headdesk* *headdesk*
I think I may stop writing about this now. My head is sore and my heart weary from reading the continual stream of excuse making and victim blaming in the media. But thank goodness for writers like Catherine Deveny: Between a ruck and a hard place, we need new rules.
And Dr Baker – rape is not a “misdeed.” It’s a crime.