And they wonder why…

20 May 2009

By The Record

The Record’s Mark Reidy is not surprised but underwhelmed by one-eyed analysis of the recent NRL sex scandal.


Matthew Johns in character as his altar ego Reg Reagan on the NRL Footy Show, which some say relies on him for its ratings.


By Mark Reidy

I  am somewhat mystified by the furore that has been sparked by the latest sex scandal in the sporting world.
Why is everyone so surprised and outraged? Don’t get me wrong – the degradation and disregard shown by this particular group of men toward the 19 year old woman in the 2002 incident should rightly be abhorred, but I believe there is a double standard in the wave of public fury that has been ignited.
Sadly it is an ambiguity that most people seem to be completely unaware of, a fact that became quite obvious during last Thursday’s National Rugby League Footy Show.
On the show was a panel of current and former players, as well as professionals whose job is to instil a culture of respectful gender-relating within the NRL.
They were scrutinising the fallout from the scandal and searching for a constructive way forward. It was a positive and productive interaction, with individuals united in their desire to rid the game, and society in general, of demeaning attitudes towards women. All well and good – not many would argue with their honourable motives.
 But then there was an interruption for a commercial break. Here lies the hypocrisy.
The advertisement prior to the return of the praiseworthy discussion featured a number of gyrating and scantily clad women promoting the upcoming Sexpo in Perth.
It described itself as a, “four day public event looking at all aspects of adult entertainment, sexuality and adult lifestyles”.
 It is held in most major cities across the country and features exhibitions such as, “Sexpo Showgirls – performing their steamy routine live on stage…see them in the flesh, have a photo taken with them and more”, visit “a room solely dedicated to lap dancing”, enter an “amateur strip tease competition”, witness “extravagant pole dancing”, “meet Australia’s number one Pornstar” and the list goes on.
Then its back to the studio to analyse how it is possible that attitudes that treat women as objects of self-gratification could possibly exist in our enlightened times.
Some may call the advertisement bad timing, but I tend to think that it held the elusive answer that the panel was so desperately seeking.
We are living in a society that gives lip service to moral standards of behaviour, yet encourages lifestyles of sexual permissiveness and self satisfaction in both a social and legal context.
We tell our boys from a young age that they must treat all women with dignity, yet we permit pictures of almost naked women to be displayed in supermarkets, on billboards, in video shops and on television.  We say that they must respect women, yet explicit pornography, freely accessed through the Internet, can potentially be delivered into any home with a computer.
We implore them to value women, yet we make it legal to rent them for personal gratification.
Surely it must confuse the developing minds and consciences of our young male population. Especially when we then expect them to get to a magical point in their lives where they must suddenly ignore the sexual imagery and attitudes that have bombarded them throughout their adolescence and act in a manner that is contrary to them.
There is no doubt that individuals must be responsible for their own actions and face the consequences for them, but as a society we must also accept some degree of blame for the path we have chosen to take.
 Under the guise of progressive thinking and freedom of speech we have compromised the innocence of our children by exposing them to sexual information and attitudes before they are even capable of forming a moral conscience. We should not be surprised then, that we are confronted with immorality when they become adults.
There is an insightful African proverb that says, “It takes a village to raise a child”.
So before we condemn the products of our own village, let us first look at how we are raising them.