I love football. Well, I love CFL football. When June comes around, you can bet that I’ll be talking about my beloved Roughriders.
However, like the girl holding the sign above implies, there are a lot more important things in life than football.
I linked to this article last week and it was rightfully scathing of our attitudes towards violence against women, particularly violence committed by athletes:
At too many universities, too many football players are schooled to see women as the spoils of being a campus god. But it’s also an issue beyond the commodification of women on a big football campus. It’s the fruit of a culture where politicians can write laws that aim to define the difference between “rape” and “forcible rape” and candidates for the Senate can speak about pregnancy from rape being either a “gift from God” or biologically impossible in the case of “legitimate rape.” It’s a culture where comedians like Daniel Tosh or Tucker Max can joke about violently raping, as Max puts it, a “gender hardwired for whoredom.” The themes of power, rape and lack of accountability are just as clear in the case of the Steubenville, Ohio, football players not only boasting that they “so raped” an unconscious girl but feeling confident enough to videotape their boasts.
This doesn’t help:
Now you might be thinking, ‘What’s the big deal about guys complimenting a beautiful woman live on national TV?’ Well, nothing, really, except for the context. First of all, it’s another example of just who society thinks is beautiful – young thini women with long hair and lots of makeup. I can guarantee that ESPN wouldn’t have focused on the QB’s girlfriend if she looked like me. Second, the commentators reinforced that football players, and by extension all male athletes, can ‘get women’ like that; it’s assumed.
A couple of years ago I read a chapter from Crossing the Line by Laura Robinson that focused on sexual assaults committed by Canadian junior hockey players that are often swept under the rug in the name of franchise success. There really are no words to express how appalling any of this is. Robinson claimed she received three emails about sexual assault committed by male hockey players during the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. Also, sexual offences increased by 70% during the Games, from 16-27. And don’t sniff at the ‘small’ numbers; even one sexual assault is one too many.
I’ve heard few stories about Canadian football stories committing violence against women. The only one that comes to mind is Trevis Smith, the former Saskatchewan Roughrider who served time for knowingly exposing two women to HIV. I’ve heard rumours of a few assaults, but off the top of my head, I can’t think of anything else that’s been covered in the media. It makes me wonder what stories are out there that haven’t been told.
Now look at this American-based graphic:
There’s been some backlash to this graphic, as it’s somewhat misleading, but its overall point still stands: there are a lot of women out there who’ve been sexually assaulted who will never get justice.
I think about the Indian woman who died last month after being brutally gang raped. I think of the woman in California who won’t get justice because of an 1872 law that does not give single women the same legal protection as married women in certain types of rapes. I think of the millions of women who are trafficked and sold into sexual slavery. I can’t even begin to imagine their horrific experiences.
Yet the same thing keeps happening: women are blamed. But the problem isn’t women; it’s societal attitudes. We need more ads like these:
The Edmonton police have been quite forward-thinking on this front (although, is it really forward-thinking when the cause is so obvious and it’s only taken us thousands of years to get there?) and their ads get straight to the point:
Rape culture is pervasive because we let it be, and until we realize that, we can’t stop it. Do we really need to resort to the economic argument that rape “hurts the corporate bottom line” in order to do something? Doesn’t citizenship require better of us?