Opinion by Marie Kelly
Yesterday morning, Woman’s Day published an article online and in print boasting nude (but censored) images of two of Collingwood Football Club’s senior players. It’s easy to dismiss the latest footy ‘scandal’ with an eye roll, a “FFS what now?” or even rewarding the publications because it’s “good – if they send nudes, they deserve what happens thereafter“.
But this frame of mind is seriously problematic. We can’t judge these players on magazines trying to make a quick buck by stirring up controversy. We have to take a closer look at the issues at hand. If feminism has taught me anything (and it’s taught me a f*ck-tonne), it’s that consent is IMPORTANT. There are two issues at play here.
The consent of the sender and the consent of the receiver of the photographs and the level of trust in their relationships.
Consent of the Receiver:
Okay. Play along with me here.
– Person A asks Person B for a photograph but doesn’t specify for a nude pic. Person B sends a nude photograph. If, due to the trust established in the relationship, the nude photograph is unwanted, then Person A has every right to say “I wanted a photograph of Person B’s face but I got a penis/vagina/genitals!” and they have a right to be upset.
– Person C asks Person D for a nude photograph and due to the level of trust in their relationship, Person D obliges. Person C should be grateful that Person D has given them consent and trust with the nude photo of themselves. Person C has also given consent for this photograph to be sent and everything should be fine and dandy.
Consent of the Sender:
– Now what if Person A asks Person B for a nude pic and that offer is declined? Person A doesn’t have the right to be upset by this. Depending on the level of trust in the relationship, it’s highly possible that Person B might even feel insulted or even assaulted by the audacity of the request and that’s fair enough. If Person A is really keen to cop some genital action on their phone, it’s up to them to make a call on the intimacy of their relationship with the other. If you’re ever questioning how the ‘sender’ will respond to a request for a nude pic, you’re really not in the position to ask for one. If Person A continually pushes and attempts to milk a nude pic we enter serious grounds of sexual harassment.
If you’re ever questioning how the ‘sender’ will respond to a request for a nude pic, you’re really not in the position to ask for one.
Now here’s the situation most relevant to the latest AFL ‘saga’
– Person C feels like they are in a position to ask Person D for a nude photograph and Person D thinks “sure, I want fulfil your request and I trust you with an image of my little Mr-D’ and sends off a naughty pic.
‘WOW’ thinks Person C. ‘I asked for a nude image and Person D has given me their consent and trust, going to all that time and effort to fulfil my request – I sure am one luck Person C’ – life is great – the end.’
But here’s where the line of consent is drawn. Person C has given consent for this photograph to be sent. Person D has not given consent for this photograph to be sent to others.
Why? Because this consenting interaction is much like having sex. It is a private act between two people. If two people are having sex with one another, generally speaking, no one else is invited to watch or take part without consent.
This is why the sending and distributing nude photographs that have been received with consent is illegal and is called Revenge Porn and profiting off this deception is next level nasty.
Revenge Porn – It’s A Crime
That’s right ladies and gentlemen, sending that nude photograph that your ex-partner sent you when you were having a really great time to other people is a crime. Specifically in Victoria, it’s a criminal offence to maliciously distribute intimate images without the person’s consent. There’s up to two years imprisonment for passing these photographs on, and up to a year for threatening to send.
Is it ever okay?
Just because your past lover might be with someone new now, or they cheated on you, or even if they’ve stolen your dog – it doesn’t give you the right to send out photographs of them naked. Nor does it give them the right to send out photographs of you naked. If they did steal your dog, tell the police or get a lawyer. Do not leak nude pic. Not cool dude.
What’s more, do not sell the nude photographs.
Why This Example With Collingwood Is Not Cool
Ignore what Eddie Maguire said about these AFL players being “idiots”. These dudes were consenting adults and supposedly sent these photographs to other consenting adults in their private life. Whether or not these men are in a relationship with different women to the ones they sent the photographs to isn’t an issue. It doesn’t mean that they deserved to be shamed.
If this had happened to a female sports player, it’s possible we’d be shouting and screaming at the Woman’s Day for reporting the matter. The views expressed in their original ‘exclusive’ containing the images definitely tip-toes along the lines of victim blaming. FYI, this isn’t what feminism is fighting for. The violation of trust, privacy and consent is disgusting and terrible for everyone involved. In my opinion, Woman’s Day poured the fuel and lit the match, violating everyone.
Victim Blaming – A Horrible Side Effect of Rape Culture and Sexism
You’ve seen it. You’ve heard it. You may have even said it or thought it about something that has happened to someone….
“Well, they were asking for it”.
Thoughts like this are a crude side effect of sexism and rape culture. Arguments like, ‘if a woman is wearing a short skirt, she is asking for sex’ – or – ‘If a woman sends a naked picture to her boyfriend, she clearly wants him to send it to his friends’. It happens.
Victim blaming was rampant during the time of the St Kilda School Girl scandal which allegedly involved several St Kilda players, player manager Ricky Nixon as well as underage school girl, Kim Duthie. Due to her age, Duthie was a victim as she would not have been able to give consent and could have been influenced by adult men. Furthermore, the poor handling of the situation and subsequent rumours meant that nothing could be done to weed out the lies from the truth.
As Duthie was allegedly still interacting with players and Nixon when reports and interviews were taking place, the stories became skewed and certain things did not align. The public took to blaming and shaming Duthie, the victim, because the players’ and Nixon’s careers were more important than her mental health or wellbeing.
We’ve also learnt to apply victim blaming to men. If you look up what happens to LGBTI men or transexual men and transexual women because “they asked for it”, you’ll be horrified. Specifically, in relation to this issue of Cloke and Swan’s photographs, see if you can spot the problem with Eddie Maguire’s statement:
“It would seem that somebody’s sucked these idiots into sending out photos and as a result they’ve got them and sold them to the media”
This leaking of photographs isn’t a result of the player’s decisions to send pics of a sexual nature. It’s a result of the women receiving the images deciding to send them on, it’s the result of Woman’s Day purchasing these photographs, it is a result of Woman’s Day going ahead with the publication which they could have put a stopper on at any point in time. had they realised that they have, in a sense, helped women commit a crime.
Why is the blame on the two players? Why say that these men were sucked in? They are two adult men and they have adult relationships. This was a moment of consent and the players have fallen victim. Victim blaming is a reflex reaction, and it is something that society need to work on moving away from.
So what now?
There are women who have accessed and distributed these images, or rather, committed revenge porn, a crime. Their identities are supposedly being protected by Woman’s Day, who appear to have no shame in buying or selling photographs (ie when they allegedly outbid Chrissie Swan on photographs of her pregnant which she didn’t want published), no matter the content.
There are two women in long term relationships with these players who have had to discover via a tabloid magazine that their partners may have breached the trust of their relationships.
Celebrities, of any nature, whether it be sport or film, deserve a private life and a public life at the same time. We, as society, need to understand and decide clearly where that line is.
For me, it’s as simple as this…
Does the public NEED to know? Does the public have an invested interest?
- Yes = Public Life
- No = Private Life