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My interview Razor Sharp 18 February
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp on Tuesday 18 February. (0)

My interview Razor Sharp 11 February 2014
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp this morning. The Royal Commission, car industry and age of entitlement get a lot of the coverage. (0)

Razor Sharp 4 February 2014
Me on 4 February 2014 on Razor Sharp with Sharon Firebrace. (0)

Time for a House Un-Australian Activities Committee?
Tony Abbott thinks the Australian Broadcasting Corporation is Un-Australian. I am looking forward to his government setting up the House Un-Australian Activities Committee. (1)

Make Gina Rinehart work for her dole

Sick kids and paying upfront


Save Medicare

Demonstrate in defence of Medicare at Sydney Town Hall 1 pm Saturday 4 January (0)

Me on Razor Sharp this morning
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace this morning for Razor Sharp. It happens every Tuesday. (0)

I am not surprised
I think we are being unfair to this Abbott ‘no surprises’ Government. I am not surprised. (0)

Send Barnaby to Indonesia
It is a pity that Barnaby Joyce, a man of tact, diplomacy, nuance and subtlety, isn’t going to Indonesia to fix things up. I know I am disappointed that Barnaby is missing out on this great opportunity, and I am sure the Indonesians feel the same way. [Sarcasm alert.] (0)



Can Rugby League survive?

Matty Johns used to play rugby league.  He is now a major media commentator and wise guy for Channel 9, or rather was.

Channel 9 stood him down indefinitely yesterday (12 May). 

They didn’t sack him. Surely they can’t be thinking of a comeback?

Why stand him down? A Four Corners report revealed that Johns and a number of teammates had group sex with a 19 year old woman 7 years ago when he was playing for the Cronulla Sharks.

It has destroyed her life.  It will now destroy Johns.

Johns was the front man for the recruitment campaign for kids to the game. 

Mums around the country have a major say in the sport their kids play.

Having Johns as your recruitment figurehead is untenable.  The National Rugby League axed him. 

It may be too late. I doubt most women are urging their sons right now to play rugby league.

I doubt many men are either.

Long term that will have major ramifications for the sport.  Given that it is one of four major football codes in Australia competing for survival in a small market, the slow long term decline of ruby league might now become a stampede.

Certainly Matty Johns is finished. Apart from his Channel 9 work, Johns was a skills coach at the Melbourne Storm. They’ve axed him too.

In advertising parlance he is a shit sandwich.  You can’t sell him now. You can’t give him away.

Cronulla the club is also in trouble. It has large debts. Already manor sponsors have pulled out, costing Cronulla $150,000. 

Its major sponsor, LG, is meeting the club this week.

One wonders what sponsors of other clubs are thinking about their brand being associated with a game whose culture seems to be so anti-female.

Some argue that the sex was consensual.  There is such a power imbalance here that any seeming consent (and to what exactly?) must be viewed as the consent of the powerless – consent in form but not substance.

But it also doesn’t address the moral reprehensibility of taking advantage of someone in this position and destroying concepts of fidelity and trust.

This is not just a case of a few bad apples spoiling it for the rest of us.

This abuse is systemic, not only to Ruby League but to society. 

Rugby League began as a working man’s response to not being insured or paid when playing union.

It is now a business run by media moguls for money, money, money.

Yet the supporter base, strongest for historical reasons in New South Wales and Queensland, is overwhelmingly working class.

And the players are themselves mostly working class men, many with little talent other than using brawn to bash other men on a little paddock over a little piece of leather.

Because it is a sport that makes millions for the James Packers, many of the the players are well paid.  The super stars are from the working class but not of it.

In that regard they remind me a little of Labor politicians or trade union officials.  

And might I add male trade union officials on away trips can get up to much the same sort of reprehensible behaviour.  Since they are generally less well known and certainly less well loved than footy stays their nights away are often with prostitutes.

For footballers I think part of it is that being in the public eye means their behaviour is or can be exposed. In other words their actions are a mirror onto the soul of society. It is not pretty.

Johns is not alone.

For example the Footy Show is itself a misogynistic production with the occasional token effort to address women as human beings rather than as objects only reinforcing the problem. 

Then we have the football clubs.

The  Canterbury Bulldogs had group sex with a young women in Coffs Harbour; three Brisbane Broncos had sex with a woman in a toilet in  a pub; one player sexually ‘confronted’ a woman and changed clubs as a result; another glassed his girlfriend; another allegedly assaulted his girlfriend in an argument; and the centrepiece of league’s advertising campaign is now on sexual assault charges.

Who knows how many other clubs have skeletons?  I suspect all of them.

It would be too easy just to blame the money, the club atmosphere, the adulation and the tribalism inherent in male professional team sports .

Certainly that is part of it.  But the degradation of women doesn’t start and end with rugby league players.

There is something deeper which, given the right circumstances, can produce this sort of disgusting behaviour among players.

 And that something I believe is the role of women in capitalist society.

Women under capitalism are oppressed.  From low pay to objectification, women are second class citizens.

Capitalism needs its next generation of workers to make profits out of.  The family, and women’s role within it, produces the perfect vehicle for the delivery of capitalism’s goals – more kids to grow into workers to exploit.

Instead of the care of children being a community responsibility capitalism individualises the responsibilities (and costs) onto parents.   They get the next generation of workers on the cheap.

With over forty percent of the workforce female, capitalism needs women workers to survive.  It also needs kids, raised in a unit funded by the individuals concerned, not the community.

This duality is captured perfectly in the recent Budget announcement about a paid maternity leave scheme for women.  It’s only taken 30 years to achieve what is in essence a very poor scheme.

The bosses have welcomed this pathetic version of paid maternity leave because they don’t have to pay for it even though they benefit enormously from it.

We workers will pay for it out of our taxes. 

Cheer squads are another example of this duality. Every Rugby League club except South Sydney has a one.

They are young women who prance around in little clothing fawning adulation and in some cases sexual congress with the players whenever the team scores.

They are an expression of the objectification of women that our society values.

So even though there are millions of women in the workforce, overwhelmingly they are concentrated in traditional industries and/or at the lower paid rungs of the workforce. 

Women are paid on average 16 per cent less than men for the same type of work. 

The oppression of women is systemic to capitalism. 

The uneasy tension under capitalism between women as carers and women as workers produces a range of individual and societal responses – from stay at home mums to super mums, and on to an objectification which serves the purposes of reinforcing  women’s subservient role as unpaid child rearer.  

The clash is between the immediate – women as workers are vital for the continuation of the exploitative system – and the future – women as child bearers and carers are vital for producing and raising (unpaid) the next generation of workers.

 This all mean,s given the ‘right’ conditions, that men can express that oppression and their own alienation through physical actions like rape and assault. That is not to justify their actions, merely to point out that societal circumstances can encourage activity that is abhorrent.

Gathering together and isolating twenty five young men for long periods of time, stressing the physical aspects of themselves and their work, and bonding them as a team is a fire waiting to turn into a fire ball.

Once the spark happens all the repressed anti-women attitudes and actions can spring to the fore.

No amount of educating football players or young men is going to change that.

Only a complete overthrow of current social relations, i.e. the abolition of wage slavery, can do that.

Only then can each person be judged on their inherent worth, not their gender.



Comment from juan
Time May 15, 2009 at 11:57 pm

Excuse me Leonie, is “group sex” spin for “pack rape”? Or am I missing something?

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