As raised on the Otterday open thread, this has been all over the TV, radio and papers today – the 4 Corners episode on ARL footy players and their attitudes of sexual entitlement. Especially the attitude that says if a girl agrees to sexual contact with one footballer, or maybe two, that it’s no big deal if suddenly several other players appear in the room to “take a turn”, with a larger crowd of the team’s entourage happily watching this suddenly changed situation. The news stories very carefully avoid any terms suggesting that any player committed a criminal sexual offence, as no charges have been laid, and certainly no convictions have ensued.
I’m sure no regular readers here are surprised at the idea of elite athletes behaving badly with regard to sex, especially the classic scenario of an initial agreement to one-on-one sex transforming into a gangbang, a young woman confronted with a room full of men much larger than she is expecting sex and simply not caring if the woman they penetrate is crying while it happens or lying rigid, just waiting for it to stop so that she can spend hours in a shower trying to scrub the memories away. Enthusiastic consent? Who the hell cares about that?
So often we hear “women are throwing themselves at these men, they don’t need to force anyone” (how revealing is that phrase I’ve emphasised with italics – we accept that some men need to, do we? or that a need might make it “OK”?). This is crap. The idea of men turning to sexual coercion out of sexual desperation is simply not an adequate explanation – men turning to sexual coercion due to their sexual expectations, their sense of entitlement due to their status, explains so much more.
As Kanin demonstrated in his study on self-disclosed date rapists in an undergraduate community in 1967, the main thing his group of sexual coercers had in common was the fact that they were more sexually successful than the average man on campus, thus they expected continuing sexual success, and therefore felt entitled to coerce sexual intercourse.
I can’t write anything more and hope to remain moderately coherent. Your turn.