Thursday, May 14, 2009

more on Johns - how women in the media respond

The feeding frenzy triggered by the previously mentioned Four Corners program continues. Here I look at how two prominent women in the media approach the story. Strangely, I come away finding a feminist in the most unlikely place.

Miranda Devine is not known for her female solidarity so it is no surprise that after beginning her article with an attempt to chastise John’s for his behaviour in 2002, she ends by blaming the victim. Devine segues from a backhander about “Clare’s” integrity, “It would be a rare woman who would willingly consent to such an experience, without being damaged in some way, with low self-esteem or imperfect understanding of what was happening”, to discussing the “Twilight” phenomena (a series of books for teens written by Stephenie Meyer, a Mormon). Devine totally misses the fundamentalist christian brainwashing that the series portrays, instead choosing to believe that the chaste, romance desiring female characters are an acurate reflection of our current society. In other words, all young women wish to remain virgins til marriage and it takes the super-human restraint of an honorable man to resist defiling them.

Of course, Devine points out that this is rather a lot to expect of men considering, “It is unfair to expect men to bear full responsibility for sexual mores as the boundaries of acceptable practice are blurred. Young women are told they can act and dress any way they please, and it is men, alone, with their supposedly filthy, uncontrollable sexual desires, who must restrain themselves.”

Reading this I wonder what millennium we are living in. She ends her opinion piece blaming the victim, once more. Men cannot be blamed for being sexual, it is up to women to give clear messages in the way they dress, by moderating their alcohol intake and by not going back to a motel room with men in the first place. Any other behaviour suggests that “no” actually means “yes”.

There is no understanding that female sexual attitudes have always been the most successful regulator of male sexuality - not politically correct re-education programs that are exercises in legal risk management for the NRL. (the odious source)

Strangely less repugnant was the ACA interview last night. I’m not a fan of A Current Affair and other shows of its ilk but I found Tracy Grimshaw’s interview with Matthew and Trish Johns quite interesting. Although I would have preferred to see John’s grilled by a more hardline journalist, without an obvious friendship and network affiliation, Grimshaw at least stuck to some of the nuts and bolts of the issue. She talked of the victim as being out numbered, she raised the issue of star status and the power that it gives the footballers and she didn’t get especially side tracked by the ‘infidelity’ issue. Tracy thanks for attempting to fly the feminist flag on commercial television, you did the best you could.

John’s was obviously uncomfortable about the interview. I doubt he submitted willingly, the network had just suspended him and it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to imagine that Channel 9 wielded a lot of leverage to get an exclusive interview from the couple. Ironically it may have given John’s a taste of feeling powerless. The couple’s body language was entirely different. When asked direct questions about the events of the night Matthew Johns’ eyes dropped downwards almost every time, while his wife looked upwards with her answers. Whether this implied Johns was lying, embarrassed or merely uncomfortable I can’t say. His remorse appeared genuine but the cause of his sorrow seemed firmly rooted in the personal embarrassment it had caused him and his family, rather than from actually believing he had abused “Clare” on the night.

Do you really believe the young woman said “Someone come forward and have sex with me” (Johns’ delivered this as the actual words that “Clare” said at the time)? I’m a kiwi, we don’t talk like that. The language and syntax does not ring true to me.

In the meantime, Johns is sticking to the code of silence by not naming the other participants.

And Trish is sticking to Matthew. And like Devine, she is blaming the victim.

Update23 May 2009: The delightful Catherine Deveny is incomplete agreement re Ms Grimshaw (fan club any one?), but of course can write it a tad better (or at least get paid for it!)

Part one of Other Rants take on the Johns' saga.

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Blogger Pavlov's Cat said...

He probably thought saying 'fuck' would be, you know, rude.

I've been an admirer of Tracy (sp? not sure) Grimshaw's for a long time. In the past she's had more credible TV gigs than the current one (oh hardy har, yay me, etc) -- it's astonishing that Channel 9, of all stations, has kept her on this long -- and in some of them has shown how extremely intelligent and thoughtful she is. And I remember a number of occasions on which she took a polite but firm feminist stand when the boys were getting silly. If she'd been the co-presenter of that knob on NZ TV who recently made such a fuss about the interviewee with the facial hair, she would have made cat food of him.

2:27 pm  
Blogger Ann oDyne said...

The one thing about the woman that I can find to criticise is that she went anywhere near a football player. any code, any country.

They all have a well-publicised news history of drunkenness and rutting. it is documented.
Keep the boundary fence between them and us at all times.

100kgs of too-highly-paid muscled testosterone is non-human.
(except for David Beckham)

Grimshaw's alright - she's a horsey girl.

10:06 am  
Blogger F.G. Marshall-Stacks said...

Right after the news that the Grimshaw interview had huge ratings, it becomes clear that the great unwashed tuned-in to revile Johns, as:-

"A protest in support of ousted Footy Show panellist Matthew Johns has fizzled, with only one family turning up at Channel Nine’s Willoughby studios, despite hundreds pledging to be there.

The protest was organised on the ‘Support Matthew Johns’ Facebook page, with over 100 people promising to picket Nine’s Sydney HQ at 7:30 last night.

But it was a solitary family who made good on their commitment, holding a quiet vigil outside Nine’s gate, before returning home.

10:39 am  
Blogger Lad Litter said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

11:59 pm  
Blogger Lad Litter said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

12:05 am  
Blogger Lad Litter said...

Miranda Devine: if I read her stuff it must increase the amount of information I've received. So why do I always feel dumber afterwards?

Very well written piece, AOF.

Here's the recipe
1) Scandal;
2) Furore;
3) Remorse for being caught;
4) Vague, heavily qualified apology;
5) Right-wing backlash;
6) Perpetrator as victim.

Like in your post, over at there's a well-reasoned piece on sexual assault among AFL players that generates more light than heat.

12:06 am  
Anonymous Helen said...

LOL @ Lad Litter.

6:24 pm  

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