Home > Uncategorized > The sad, sad irony of #dickileaks: what women don’t want

The sad, sad irony of #dickileaks: what women don’t want

December 28, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

First a note for anyone who stumbles across this from the Twittersphere and who may rightly ask the question, “who the fuck do you think you are?”.  Truth is, what I know about AFL football would barely fill the back of a postage stamp. I have, however, provided media training to dozens of AFL players, as well as crisis communications advice to a handful of clubs in the past, including St Kilda.  Having said that, my opinions are mine and mine alone:  I make no claim to magic powers.  My interest in this story stems from it being a fascinating case study in issues and crisis management, mostly from the “how not to” side of the ledger.

Building a positive reputation among women and creating a “family-friendly culture” is an understandable obsession within AFL football.  Female support is obviously pivotal to the code’s current and future success, from filling grandstands to driving TV ratings, to encouraging children on to the footy field to start with.

This fear of alienating women translates into hypersensitivity about player misconduct because the blokes in charge of footy clubs are convinced that women (read: “mothers”) want footballers to act as ‘role models’.  This is the logic:  while men understand that boys will be boys, women are quickly turned off by the kind of debauched behavior that is otherwise typical in red-blooded males of that age and stage: alcohol and drug abuse, gambling, imaginative sexual antics, and general skylarking.

This perception of “what women want” sets the bar impossibly high, but every single club plays along by promoting expectations of player conduct that they are bound not to reach.  In their heart of hearts, of course, clubs also know this — mainly because the blokes in charge were once boozing and shagging their way through their own misspent youths.  So clubs engage in harm minimisation to bridge the gap between perception and reality:  in public, they feign shock and outrage at player antics; behind the scenes, they desperately scramble for ways to keep it under wraps, mostly with success.  The public barely know a fraction of the unyielding shenanigans that constitute the average football player’s social and sex lives.  Boom chikah, as the saying goes, wah wah.

But of course the public does know.  Most sensible adults of either gender are well aware that young, fit, gorgeous and horny footballers are also generally very stupid.  They know that this will lead to all kinds of eye-popping conduct that requires the Urban Dictionary to fully comprehend.  But, like the clubs, we also play along, tut-tutting on cue and pretending to be horrified when it turns out that Fevola is a flasher, Riewoldt shaves his pubes, or Cousins snorts anything that isn’t larger than a human nostril.  We are in on the scam.  It suits everyone that way.

This is useful background to understanding why St Kilda have dug such a gaping hole for themselves over Dickileaks, although I am buggered if I know why they continue digging.

The tragic irony for the Saints and the AFL is that, in their desperate attempts to defend their “family-friendly” credentials, they have set on a course of action marked by shocking misogyny.  The cynical mistreatment of the girl at the centre of the controversy will wreak havoc far worse to its credibility among women than a few scattered nude pics could ever achieve.

The comparison to Vatican cover-ups of sex abuse seems more and more apt.  As with the Catholic Church, the institution of AFL football has lost its moral bearings over Dickileaks in the scramble to protect its reputation from outside attack.  And, like the Vatican, the Saints (and the AFL and its flunkies in the media) become complicit in the crimes they seek to cover up.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Jade
    December 28, 2010 at 17:25

    And look the way the AFL fans (I certainly hope it’s not officials or players) are attacking anyone that supports the girl involved and condemns the players. Using obviously fake Twitter profiles they harass, threaten and defame anyone that says a word of negativity about the AFL or support the girl. A number of them are accusing any supporter of her as a pedophile claiming that “She’s a proven liar whore” so anyone that supports her or think the players are in the wrong must want to have sex with her. It’s clearly disgusting and trying to silence them – I’m aware of 3 supporters that have closed their Twitter accounts due to the amount of hate directed towards them. My sister previously had her Facebook on her Twitter profile and was defending the people the scum accused of trying to bed the girl. the scum have sent messages (again with obviously fake Facebook profiles) to a number of her friends saying that said she was a pedophile sympathiser and that they should cease all contact with her – who knows how many friends, she only knows the ones that told her.

    They’re reasoning is absurd since they’re the ones that support the players having sex with a 16 year old.

  2. December 28, 2010 at 21:05

    Maths brings it down to the very simple basics – she was 16.
    They were all older than 18.
    They were ‘adults’.
    Pity they can’t remember to act as such.

  3. psychomuse
    December 28, 2010 at 21:07

    Thanks for the interesting insight!
    I can even begin to explain my disgust…
    The major problem these days is that we give minors ie. 16 year olds the ultimate choice, and some are experienced enough to choose right, but most aren’t.
    This battle should not be fought on age, but experience…

  4. Smee
    December 28, 2010 at 22:21

    I see now they have taken to attacking the Human Headline as he is obviously asking all the right questions from twitter……..

    its_k__isabella #dickileaks girl (FAKE ACCOUNT NOT REAL dickileaks girl)
    30+ Hinch has sex with 15yr old teenager & calls it an honest mistake. StK players 19+ have sex with consenting 16yr old, & Hinch screeches?

  5. Tamara
    December 28, 2010 at 23:06

    The continued attack by the supporters of the players is extremely damaging to their cause. I’m not a fan of the girl at all, but neither do I support the players. The more the supporters spew hatred and defamatory insults the more I question what happened. It’s been happening for a week now, but in the last 24 hours has increased a lot.

    Where do these insults come from? Is there more to the story? Do they want all supporters of the girl to go quiet so no one ever speaks up in her deference and we never find the truth?

    They’ve even gone to the extent of posting several peoples mobile phone numbers encouraging St Kilda fans to call and abuse them. One of the supporters tweeted that he got a call from a private number threatening to bash him unless he stopped posting in support of the girl.

    I’d like to see St Kilda, the AFL and the players call a press conference tomorrow condemning the actions of their supporters. They’ve been very public condemning anything the girl says that they say is false and very quickly as well, so for them to remain quiet on this could be seen as silent support.

  6. John Ryan
    December 29, 2010 at 00:00

    Interesting this, I find it amazing that it has got this far,the AFL and its press flunkey’s are trying to close it down,the Vic Pol have tried to close it down, just how close the AFL and Vic pol are should be one of the many things examined in a Royal Commission.
    The supporters thing does not surprise me as AFL supporters don’t like critics of there game, what they are frightened of I don’t know maybe this time the lid will come off and the many things that have been swept under the carpet will emerge.
    It will only take one journalist with the guts to buck the AFL, unfortunately the ones in the know the sports journos lack the spine to do it

  7. Rod
    December 29, 2010 at 00:51

    Imagine if this happened in the NRL, the players would’ve been kicked out of the team and shiped off to England (if they had no crim record) within days.

    The club would be bashed from pillar to post and the code dragged through the mud.

    The way the AFL, its clubs and players are protected in Australia, makes me sick. Imagine if Willy Mason from the NRL done something like this?

    The bloke done a piss late at night down a dark alley and ended up having to leave the roosters, it took the guy months to find another club.

    All for doing a leak (something all humans do and something any male has done when he thinks no one is looking and he has to go.

    Double standards in the sporting media.

    Where are you ABC, remember Matty Johns?

  8. UPS
    December 29, 2010 at 01:16

    Thanks, boss. nice sharing 😉

  9. January 2, 2011 at 16:52

    Anyone suggests this is a simple case or black and white does understand the situation.
    I agree that the image the AFL/Clubs put out about its players or more to the point, that it is expected to put out is unsustainable especially when you consider the wide variety of backgrounds they come from!

    From this post I find it hard to see the analogy or comparisons between this situation and the issues in the catholic church complete ridiculous! These guys have done something that maybe illegal, but most likely not (depending on what comes out about the school clinic). Them knowing her from the clinic is (to my understanding) the only way its illegal with the legal age of 16. The catholic priests having sex with boys is totally illegal.

    You may argue that both the Vatican and AFL covered it up but how have the AFL covered it up? The full cooperate with any investigations, they offered help (independent help) to the girl involved and they try to educate players to be better people! What more can they do? You might say charge the players but for what? Legally they did nothing wrong and if they thought she was 18 should the AFL be stepping to all players bedrooms. To make sure they behave? When does personal responsibility take over?


    • PQ
      January 2, 2011 at 17:00

      I have never commented on whether the players did anything illegal. In fact, I have argued that the players have acted pretty much as young, horny morons of that age are prone to act. Nor do I suppose to act as a moral umpire on the conduct of teenage girls I have never met. You seem to be arguing more against what you think I am saying than what I actually am. My point has always, always been that the club mishandled the revelations in a public relations sense by overreacting and going after the girl in the courts and the media. This was my opinion from a decade managing this kind of media shit-storm for people, but it is still only my opinion. The comparison with the Vatican is extreme, perhaps, but the point is clear as day: institutions tend to place protection of themselves and their reputations over the rights and dignity of outsiders — or the greater good. If you truly believe the AFL were not fully aware and supportive of the Saints’ strategy, then we have to agree to disagree.

      • January 2, 2011 at 19:33

        I understand your points and absolutely know that you come from a better pr point but the legal action was taken by the players (not the AFL) and with one goal in mind, to stop the photos. I don’t like the lawyers comments but we should remember that at the time they were made the girl was threatening to release more photos even though the courts had prdrt

      • PQ
        January 2, 2011 at 19:36

        The player’s lawyer was the vice-president of the footy club. The terrible press conference was also organised by the Saints, and Riewoldt was using words drafted on his behalf, either by management, media staff, lawyers or PR advisers paid by the Club . I hardly think this series of bad strategic decisions can be laid at the players’ door. In my experience, these kids freak in circumstances like this, and will take whatever advice the club management and PR advisers give them.

  10. January 2, 2011 at 19:37

    (dam smart phone) ordered het not too. If they followed through their threats I think that would be pr suicide (unless the girl state releasing more photos).

  11. January 3, 2011 at 02:31

    PQ :
    The player’s lawyer was the vice-president of the footy club. The terrible press conference was also organised by the Saints, and Riewoldt was using words drafted on his behalf, either by management, media staff, lawyers or PR advisers paid by the Club . I hardly think this series of bad strategic decisions can be laid at the players’ door. In my experience, these kids freak in circumstances like this, and will take whatever advice the club management and PR advisers give them.

    That is a very good point. Perhaps the Saints can distance themselves little from the response via lawyer response. I still believe the AFL had little to do with it. They would have been aware of it yes. May have offered advice but I think they would have stayed out of the law suite. Andrew mentioned as much on 3aw in the interview where he mentioned the 20 meetings earlier in the year.

    One question for you, do you really think there is something happening now that is so different to March/April that will mean that the AFL/Saints will be hurt more then back then? I mean, before this rehashed itself with the photos release, there was little thought or talk of it.

    I could be wrong, but I think come the teams getting back to serious training, this will be mostly forgotten. I could be very wrong though, but the sky has fallen so many times and it tends to just be an acorn (note, I say this as no disrespect to the feelings of the girl involved. I say it as an observation of huge issues in the past that tend to blow over).

  1. December 28, 2010 at 12:21
  2. January 1, 2011 at 16:07

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