Blaming women some more, just using big words this time


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.

Society is in league with footy antics

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.


19 responses to “Blaming women some more, just using big words this time

  1. I highly doubt any of these men’s mothers ever, even tacitly, told them to go ahead and gang rape women if they get the chance. In fact, I bet these guys would be rather angry if their mothers were raped.

    As for the victims, well, they were dressed like sluts and hanging out with rugby players, what were they expecting?

    How about having some respect for men, and holding them responsible for their own actions?

  2. Pingback: Femmostroppo Reader - May 21, 2009 — Hoyden About Town

  3. Great post.

    “wanton misuse of women” ??


    I read a blog post recently about the rugby player thing that finished with the sentence: “Whatever. I have no use for rugby or women anyway”. Use for women. So very disgusting.

  4. Antics. Not the word I would have chosen…

  5. Let’s not forget calling women “precious resources”.


  6. Jet, yeah, that really gets me, too. It implies that women can not only be used, but used up. *shudder*

    Thanks for the post, Deborah.

  7. I thought the whole ‘spread your seed’ biological imperative had been proven to be bollocks anyway? Seed spreading doesn’t increase the possibility of rearing an child to maturity, so that they in turn might spread the rapey gene. The best way to stop your ‘seed’ being part of the childhood mortality rates is to.. you know.. stick around. At any rate, biology is not destiny, we are meant to be ‘civilised’ now and if you can’t control you urges, be they biological or due to fuckwittage, you don’t get a ‘get out of gaol free’ card because of it.
    My genes made me do it is not a fecking excuse.

    an extra headdesk from me for calling women ‘precious resources’

  8. The whole thing is chock full of *headdesks*. I shuddered when I first read it, and I almost didn’t know where to start.

  9. This gentleman seems to be writing as though there is a perfectly reasonable and appropriate way to use women which these men have disregarded.

    I was under the impression that human beings were not to be ‘used’. Seems not.

  10. Well Dr Baker, thanks for the speech about how we’re no different from the animals. You know, however, that we are educated, aware of the consequences of our actions, and so forth, don’t you?

    The next time I indulge in cannibalism, I’ll be sure to give Andrew Baker a call. Perhaps he can rationalise that as the victim’s fault too.

    If anyone would like a deeper understanding about ‘what separates us from the animals’ I suggest Stephen Baxter’s novel Origin. It’s the third in the series but stands alone. In the book humans at different stages along the evolutionary path interact. Baxter is excellent at exploring their motivations, and rape is dealt with. It’s actually quite confronting.

  11. It doesn’t make sense anyway.

    So women are ‘ultimately responsible for the precious resource that is themself (!?), yet should realise they may not have the option to choose (!?).

    What does he suggest – stay home at all times?

  12. ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh.

    Astounding take down.

  13. And… can anyone tell me WTF Leunig is on about here?

    (May 22, as it’s not a direct link)

  14. I can’t work it out at all, Helen. It’s not even bizarre – it’s just, “Please explain.” It has whooshed straight over me.

  15. Helen, I’m with you: WTF?!?!? Maybe – ***maybe*** – he’s trying to say “ok, we’re sick of the footballer shit”. But it’s coming across as victim blamey to me, you know, “sensible/good/nice girls know not to mess around with football players”.


  16. I read the first line-up as saying that it’s no use saying no to footballers i.e Leunig is being massively sarcastic, and in effect claiming that all footballers are rapists. It’s the second line-up that I don’t understand, and I can’t see its connection to the first one. And is that teacher male or female? Or a footballer?

  17. It’s the same teacher in the top and bottom; with the same class. The point is the class has just said no to doing what the teacher is telling them to do, and now the teacher is going to force them to do it anyway.

    I think the point is that if a person has privilege they expect you to act how they expect you to act. If they have power over you then they can force you to act how they expect you to act. In this case the teacher has power and privilege over the children.

    The irony is the teacher wants to show the children how to say no but doesn’t know how to take no for an answer them self.

    I think what Leunig is saying, is that the point isn’t teaching people how to say no, but rather we need to learn that no means no and accept it, not barrel on regardless.

  18. Hmmm…. I’ve always known 1,000 words does it for me rather than a picture but that cartoon really makes it clear. Thanks for your reading of it, kandela.

  19. deusexmacintosh

    But women ultimately control the precious resource that is themselves and they may need to guard it more zealously.

    With what, a gun?