#Dickileaks is an institutional scandal, not a sexual one
I began my coverage of Dickileaks by expressing the view that Nick Riewoldt was making a huge PR blunder by engaging in the story with a tone of such unwarranted self-importance (Get over yourself, Nick Riewoldt). This, I predicted, would give the story untold legs because he set himself up as a paragon of offended virtue instead of a silly but ultimately decent young man who should have known better than to allow a photo of his waxed and waning genitals. Ditto Del Santo and the others.
St Kilda’s woes were greatly deepened by their unwise decision to throw the book at the girl who distributed the photos. While she was undeniably silly for diving head-first into this pitiless milieu, I have never presumed to adopt a moral stance on her conduct. 16-year olds have sex with men in their late teens and twenties all the time; they get angry and vengeful about it in the aftermath fairly regularly too. Outrage at such things would be as futile a waste of energy as hurling a ping pong ball into a Wellington southerly. We live in a culture that presents these players, often explicitly, as sexual objects. Millions of marketing dollars are spent in pursuit of exactly this. How is it even remotely surprising that girls (and gay boys, for that matter) regard these players as extremely desirable, especially at a stage in their development characterised by great emotional turmoil and burgeoning sexuality? It isn’t, of course. It isn’t surprising as much as COMPLETELY AND UTTERLY PREDICTABLE.
Taking sexual advantage of these star-struck teens is a far more morally problematic, of course, but my main intention has not been to condemn the players for their stupidity and arrogance, either. Society is kidding itself to expect any more from them.
The real scandal here is that the St Kilda Football Club and its AFL Papa Bear threw this girl under a speeding bus. They did so as part of a cynical and carefully executed public relations and legal strategy — in order to protect this laughable facade of moral righteousness.
The misogyny this has unleashed among its supporters (in Twitter and elsewhere) reveals too much for St Kilda’s liking about the ethos they defend: players should fuck who they want, when they want, without cost or consequence.
The sexual antics of footy players, distasteful and morally questionable perhaps, are far less troubling to me than the rank institutional hypocrisy that has been employed in its defense.