Supposedly, there’s a tradition in this country where strippers get hired for ‘stag dos’ and “hen nights.” Chippendale blokes for the ladies, a sexy garter or two for the guys. It is usually crystal clear what the format is: a bit of saucy flouncing and teasing, and some good natured ribald comment, often at the expense of the host of the evening. On very few occasions do the people involved take it as an ‘anything goes’ invitation to commit a sexual assault on the stripper.
The fact that at least some members of the Chiefs rugby team did think they had a licence to carry out inappropriate sexual touching and propositioning – and then to short change stripper Scarlett’s agreed money when she didn’t come across with extra services – says quite a lot about the sense of entitlement attached to rugby’s top practitioners in New Zealand. Unsurprisingly, a ‘blame the victim’ response – what did she expect etc – quickly kicked in on talkback radio. It was also evident in the initial comments by Chiefs boss Andrew Flexman:
“You have got to remember this is one person’s accusation and her standing in the community and culpability is not beyond reproach,” Flexman had said.
Flexman quickly apologised for this comment, presumably because someone told him that blaming the victim of sexual assault (and implying they’re only a lying whore) isn’t a great branding look for rugby in 2016. Unfortunately, the apology wasn’t much better:
Mr Flexman also apologised for earlier comments he had made, saying the woman’s “standing in the community and culpability is not beyond reproach”. He said in retrospect he probably regretted the way that was expressed.
“As a person and the values I have, given the vocation that this particular woman is involved in, do I cast aspersions on her as a person as a result of that vocation? That’s simply not what I believe in.”
Really? By using the word “vocation” twice in the same sentence, Flexman’s implication is that Scarlett is a “pro” – ie a professional routinely engaged in some form of sexual trade. By doing so, he appears to be making the same kind of assumption the rugby players did on the night. Evidently, being a whore is not what she thought she had agreed to be. It was to do a strip as part of a sexual pantomime, under an agreement with some Chiefs players she knew. It is the sort of thing that – as mentioned – most stag parties around the country can seem to manage without turning the occasion into a licence for sexual assault. However, lets just assume – for the sake of the argument – that the Chiefs did really think that they’d hired a sex worker for the night. What does that really say about their attitude to women in general, and towards their own sisters, wives, and girlfriends?
Hopefully, the Chief/NZRFU will begin their inquiry by ensuring that Scarlett gets paid in full – it must have been a verbal contract at least – for the strip she had agreed to do, and that the Chiefs had agreed on. Then perhaps every rugby club in the country should follow the advice of All Blacks coach Steve Hansen, and can these “Mad Monday” nights altogether in future.
Trump on sexual harassment
In this same week, Donald Trump and his son Eric also had a thing or two to say about sexual harassment in the workplace. Well, the Trump family’s considered opinion seems to be that (a) ‘strong’ women such as The Donald’s daughter Ivanka wouldn’t put up with it, and (b) the solution is for the woman to change her job, and presumably let the next female candidate for harassment to step on up.
Donald Trump said Tuesday that women who are sexually harassed in the workplace can take action within their company, leave their employer while still seeking retribution, or quit. “I think it’s got to be up to the individual,” Trump said in an interview. “It also depends on what’s available. There may be a better alternative; then there may not. If there’s not a better alternative, then you stay. But it could be there’s a better alternative where you’re taken care of better.”
As with Andrew Flexman, Trump’s clarification only seemed to compound his initial gaffe:
The Republican presidential nominee’s comments came after he drew criticism late Monday for an interview with USA Today in which he said that if his daughter Ivanka were sexually harassed it would be up to her to find a new situation. “I would like to think she would find another career or find another company if that was the case,” Trump said.
Easily done, for the daughter of a billionaire. And like father, like son:
Trump’s son Eric followed that by saying Tuesday on “CBS This Morning” that “Ivanka is a strong, powerful woman. She wouldn’t allow herself to be, you know, subjected to it.”
Problem solved! Suck it up and/or move on to your next plum job, ladies, and don’t complain. Complaining is for losers. Oh, and the other thing Donald Trump hates about women – besides their whining – is their crying babies.
Fiona Apple… In reply
It is now 20 years since “Criminal” – a complex song about the internalization of slut shaming – first put Fiona Apple on the map. This live version of “Parting Gift” though, is just as wonderful:
And this live version by her of an old Cy Coleman song is pretty great, too: