Thursday, May 14, 2009

You could call me thoroughly disgusted.

Since hearing of the sex scandal involving former football player, Matthew Johns, I have been continually shocked and amazed at the response by people in my world - my very own friends. Female friends, even. I don't know what it is that is making people feel so sorry for him, but I have a theory.

Johns struggled through his interview with the Nine Network's Tracey Grimshaw. He choked up, he teared up, as did his wife who sat dutifully by his side. We have seen Matthew Johns as a football player and a television personality on The Footy Show - a fun-loving larrikin. That full-of-life character was diminished in this interview - he appeared broken. We could see it in the eyes and hear it in the voice of this person we are all too familiar with.

His accuser, an anonymous 26-year-old woman from New Zealand, also gave an interview on Four Corners. Her face was blurred, her voice digitally altered. We didn't actually get to see and hear her pain in all its glory the way we did with Matthew Johns. She is a faceless woman. She is a nobody. This, my friends, is where you can consider yourself sucked in.

Oh, I have no doubt that Matthew Johns is sorry. I can see that he was going through real pain and struggle. However, his main struggle was with oh so carefully finding the correct words so as not to incriminate himself any further! I have to say - he did a great job. He managed to barely say anything at that we hadn't already heard. If he had been almost anyone else, Tracey Grimshaw would have absolutely eaten him alive. Luckily for Johns, he has been around the media long enough to know not to be lead by a leading question.

Now, it's not that I am completely unfeeling for Matthew Johns. I feel sorry for him, because he has lost his job at possibly the worst time in the world to do so. He has been thoroughly embarrassed, his family life has been compromised and he is taking the wrap all on his own. No, it's not entirely fair, although being the only one on the chopping block is actually serving him well to make him out to be a victim (again, sucked in viewers!).

So, let's have a good look at how he got himself here.

He gang banged a nineteen year old girl seven years ago, cheating on his wife in the meantime - FACT.

He has admitted to doing so. He has admitted that it was wrong. He has said he is sorry "if she feels traumatised" - NOT that he was part of the cause of her trauma, but that SHE FEELS that way. Well done, Matty, carefully worded.

I suppose the big question is whether or not he should have been fired from his job as a presenter on The Footy Show. Does the punishment fit the crime (figure of speech!)? You know what? I believe so, and for a number of reasons.

1. He says she was a willing participant in the group sex. That she had gone back to the room with two football players, but that another ten or so had joined in and she willingly participated. I'm sorry, but agreeing to have sex with two men is a world apart from allowing a dozen to have a crack. Perhaps she was initially consensual, but when the other ten invited themselves in, it's not far fetched to imagine that she was intimidated and so went along with what was happening, only to feel taken advantage of later. Half of them were having sex with her, while the rest stood around masturbating. This is a vulgar image to be forced to conjure up, let alone find yourself a part of.

Matthew Johns, the rest of the gutless mob not taking responsibility, and half the men around the country seem to think that because she didn't physically fight them off that no wrong has been done. Well that is crap. At what point did that mob determine that this young girl was 100% consenting to what was happening? Did any of them stop and take a moment to consult with her and give her an option to back out? Doesn't sound like it. In fact, it doesn't sound like they were much concerned with her thoughts or feelings on the topic at all. They saw her as a non-person - nothing but a peice of meat to play out their fantasy with.

2. He is not sorry for what happened to this girl at all. It took an awful lot of coercing from Tracey Grimshaw for him to muster up anything that even resembled an apology directed at her. Clearly, he still thinks of her as nothing but a groupie slut. Apologies for his wife and children flowed like water - and so they should - but he has done nothing but the bare minimum to lessen the impact from the public. Take it from someone who has worked at a high level in PR - he's too concerned that there will be even more repercussions if he makes a proper apology.

He says he has been waiting in fear for seven years for this to come out - if that is not admitting his guilt, I don't know what is. What he did was officially not a crime, so he won't go to jail or have any legal repercussions - as long as he sticks to his story - so a sacking is not all that bad in comparison.

3. Part of being in the public eye is making sure that you live up to the responsibilities of your position. These football players are handed oodles of cash, adulation by the bucketload and they seem to think they are above the law, the rules and common decency. They break the rules of their own clubs and the NRL, and that's not right.

Very few aspiring athletes get to do what they do, and too many of them continually abuse their positions. They don't seem to have any concept of understanding that with all of that money that they make, there are a stack of other people whose livlihoods depend on the sport, too. They affect those people when they stuff up, because they affect their own fans who lose faith in them and stop watching the sport and going to their games and buying their merchandise. There is big money in NRL, and it's a big part of our Australian culture; they should have more respect for it. Their careers are a privilege. A privilege that doesn't give them a right to do whatever the hell they like.

When I hear of these things happening, I don't want my athletic little boy watching football and looking up to the players. I look at him and I don't want that life for him. I don't want him to be the kind of man who would think that it's okay to treat a nineteen year old girl like she is worth nothing more than sex with him and a whole bunch of his mates. In fact, just thinking about it for a second makes my skin crawl. It really makes me lose faith in the sport, and I'm not the only one. It's a real shame. So as much as all of these footy fans are saying, "Poor Matty, let's rally behind him" maybe think about how he has let you down, too. He's certainly not doing your beloved sport any favours. The Nine Network had to let him go - they would have lost sponsorship/advertisers if they didn't. Companies just don't want their products to be associated with men who participate in gang bangs with young girls and cheat on their wives. Call 'em crazy, but they don't see it as good image building for their brands.

You know, as much as I'm disgusted in Matty and the other men involved, I'm also disgusted in the reactions I have seen over the past few days. Even girls I am very good friends with have spoken out, saying they don't know why the woman accuser is complaining, because "she got herself into this situation". Well, this is my thought: This is as bad as saying a girl wearing a short skirt "asked" to be raped. Yes, this woman did get herself in the situation to a point - she can certainly take some responsibility, and she has. She obviously got caught up in the excitement of having some famous football players give her some attention. Many girls would. She probably made a stupid mistake by going back to their room and agreeing to have sex with two of them. But does this somehow exempt the men from their wrong-doing? Is she supposed to cop it on the chin because she was a bit naive and awfully silly? Do the men just get to get away with it? What they did was immoral, and just because it's not illegal, that does not mean that it should go unpunished. Since when did we become a society that puts such a low value on moral standard?

Matthew Johns said it - he has feared repercussion over this incident for years. Well, here it is. This is the consequence of your actions, Matty.


  1. I think you are a bit harsh. I am not saying what Matthew Johns did is right, however where are the guys that joined in? They are the ones that should be taking some of the heat.


  2. I couln't agree with you more Sally! Well said and thoughtfully worded. I think you have hit the nail on the head. 100% Agree!
    I think that Matthew and his brother Andrew have a publicity team behind them that manage to turn their wrong doings, into them becoming the victim of circumstance. Which is just wrong.
    I think that people should put themselves into this same situation. Just ponder this thought for a moment. Would YOU justify these actions if it were YOUR daughter in this situation? Mmmm, I think not!

  3. Thanks for your thoughts rob and april.

    rob, I hope you read my entire post, as I have also condemned the other men involved. They definitely shouldn't be leaving it to Matthew Johns to take sole responsibility, but this is the situation and that's what I have commented on. There's not much to say about the other men until they come forward.

    Again, I find your reaction interesting... You agree that there was wrong doing, but not that there should be consequences? Whether he's out on his own on a limb or not, he still did something very wrong and should pay the price. We can't have people in the public eye behaving this way. If he valued his career, he should not have done what he did. He wasn't a young kid - he was a grown man of thirty years. A married man. He did wrong, and now he's paying for it. End of story.

    april, I agree - they are making themselves into the victims, and it's not right. They have been well worded up by their PR damage control people, for sure.

  4. I think the other men that were involved in this incident haven't come forward because to this day, they still know what they did was wrong. Morally and physically wrong. Otherwise they would have no problem in coming forward to defend their side of the story.
    He had no problem lapping up the money, sponsorship deals and attention over the years. I say suffer the consequences of your past actions.

  5. Hey Sally, You asked me to come and read this and I can see you are passionate about it. I completely respect your opinion and you probably already know that mine differs..

    The question I want to ask is did this alleged victim at any point throughout the incident say "No" or "Stop"? I think it's really sweet that this girl gets to come forward 7 years after the incident with her bleeding heart story while keeping her identity anonymous and effectively destroying another person's livelihood.

    It's now come out of the woodwork that the girl was also bragging about the incident to her friends (,27574,25477148-421,00.html)... Is this fair? It went from being a good time story to something that she's pinning all of her problems on now.

    People keep saying "How would you feel if this was your daughter?".. Well, some people have daughters who actively go out and try to pick up football players... No parent ever wants that of their children but we can't all be angels.

  6. Sally, while I feel for your passionate sentiment for the girl and the situation she was in.. a lot of what you have said is speculation from her point of view (that she was intimidated.. that surely this was the case.. that obviously this would have happened).. as opposed to the speculation from the point of view of Johns and 'the guys' aka what the media is promoting to give everyone warm fuzzy 'aww poor matty' feelings.

    I believe what has actually occured is likely somewhere in between. Funny that today a female work colleague of the girl has come out and said she was bragging about it after it happened.

    Now rightly so she may be traumatized by the experience down the track but obviously at the time she was pretty proud of the achievement.

    I agree with you completely with your judgments on him doing the wrong thing by being married and having sex with another woman.. and hurting his family.. and most definitely agree that he is a public figure and should not use his position to 'get away' with stuff and should be acting as a role model for young people and not taking part in this kind of stuff.

    However I really don't think in this day and age you can pass judgment on moral fibre (based on the fact that it was a group sex act), it's an evolving and ever-changing world we live in.. providing acts are consenting.. providing acts are legal.. the 'morality' of it.. is lost in the same way 100 years ago people looked down their moral noses on homosexuals.. Yes there are still people who do so.. but it's much more morally acceptable that (providing no-one is getting hurt, it's consenting, safe and legal) people be gay or live alternative lifestyles.

    For the record, I'm not writing this because I myself participate or condone the acts.. but I certainly don't condemn them either for those that wish to (legally and safely) participate in those practices.

    Rightly so he should have been fired.. wrongly that you want to send him to jail for being 'perverted'. I think adultery should be a crime, yes.. but each to their own when it comes to other 'acts'.

  7. B - thanks for coming and respectfully viewing my opinion. Unsurprisingly, I still have a response to yours: Okay, so you asked if she said "no" or "stop". Well, no she said she didn't. Had she, there would have been a question of rape. This is not what has been put forth from my understanding. I believe she tried to have them charged with sexual assault, which covers a number of things aside from rape. She has only claimed that she was intimidated, outnumbered 1-12 and therefore there was a power imbalance, and the lack of respect for her during the incident has traumatised her. The misunderstanding a lot of people are having is that she is coming out after seven years, never having said a word about it prior and claiming rape, but that's not the case. She alerted the police five days after the event, and due to lack of evidence, the men could not be charged. Since then she has been treated for post traumatic stress and has been psychologically evaluated and found to be suicidal at different times over the years. Have you watched the Four Corners interview? The big guy (don't remember his name, but he was CEO or something) of NRL is even on her side! He says he met her and could see that she was a broken woman after the incident, and at the time appeared to be nothing more than a very naive little girl. Believe me, I've done my research on this one. I don't like to go out on a limb with stuff like this unless I'm sure of what I'm saying.

    I did see the woman who said that she was laughing about it all at work, and yeah, I mean that could be true. It doesn't necessarily count her out of being traumatised, though. You know how people sometimes laugh when someone dies? I don't know - this is just me thinking "out loud". I'm not saying there's nothing in it, I'm just looking at all angles, but I honestly don't think I'd give that much credence.

    Jace - Thanks for your comments, also. Absolutely, this is my opinion-based blog, so yes it's what I see from my perspective. You could perhaps call it speculation. You did just go on to do a decent amount of speculating yourself, and as we will never 100% know what happened, that's really all any of us can do.

    My judgement is not on the sexual act itself persay... well, personally I think it's pretty foul, but if that's what people want to do, then fine. I will, however, never apologise for judging a bunch of men who took advantage of a young girl. There is a definite power imbalance when there are 12 men to one girl. I'm not commenting on people's right to do what they like in the privacy of their own bedrooms - I'm commenting on this particular incident. And I'm commenting on these footballers' attitude that they can do what they like to women, and break the rules by taking drugs and fighting... as long as they stand in their suits with their hair combed and their clean-shaven forlorn faces, look down the barrel of a camera and say "I'm sorry". It's just not good enough anymore. Truthfully, it never was, and I for one have had a gutfull.

    And that's my two cents for what it's worth! Thanks everyone for yours. :)