At the risk of repeating myself, this saga with the "naughty Chiefs players versus the treacherous, evil vixen stripper" has got me a bit out of sorts. By the way, I don't think she was any of the above. I think she was a worker paid for a service.
The debacle has been spun around so much that the woman has been made to look like Salome, or Delilah.
So I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised when my Facebook post about loving rugby AND respecting women was met with the old "but she was a stripper and she knew what she was getting herself into" argument.
This was my post:
I love rugby with all my heart and I love and respect women even more. As women we need to speak up with a strong assertive voice for all other women, and without judgement. As good strong men we need you guys to do the same and be an example to the boys of NZ. We have to do this side by side and as a team with one voice.
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And a standard response:
I am not saying that what the guys did was right but at the same time she put herself in that situation, she is a stripper, she was hired to strip for a bunch of guys who would have, obviously, been drinking, she puts herself in this position on a daily basis yet NOW she wants to complain? It is the risk she takes with this job.
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This general malaise and blaming of women is in part why our society is so f***ed up. Excuse the edited language, but I'm impassioned beyond vocabulary.
This is not about a female stripper. Let's, for the moment, put aside old school morals about whether stripping is "nice" or not and just not make any judgement.
The real point is that a group of rugby players hired someone to do a job and then allegedly misbehaved terribly. Misbehaved is the wrong term. Throwing beer at a woman, as was alleged, is more like assault.
Being abused on the job
I was once hired, along with Raybon Kan, Jeanette McDonald and Kerre Woodham, to participate in a debate for a large, highly respected company. It went very, very wrong. The company delegates were drunk and abusive after a day of team building.
We were relentlessly verbally abused with several men yelling "Show us your tits!" I can only assume that was hurled at Kerre, Jeanette and me. Not Raybon.
We were hired to be entertaining and funny. That did not include having beers thrown at us, and insults that were more painful.
The horns of a dilemma
I love rugby. I was brought up at rugby club rooms. My dad was a Waikato selector in the 70s and 80s. I grew up thinking the team photos on our living room walls were "art". My heart belongs to the
This is where I'm on the horns of a dilemma. The problem is that we are all fully aware of a culture in this country that allows abuse of women and children on all sorts of disturbing levels.
Condoning this kind of behaviour like it's a case of "boys will be boys" is adding to a culture that says it's okay to treat women in any job or situation with due respect.
Saying, "But she was a stripper. She knew what to expect!" is the same as: "I know she was raped but did you see the short skirt she was wearing?"
It's not a woman's fault she was raped because she wore a short skirt. And it's not a stripper's fault if alcohol is thrown at her!
If we as a country want to grow and fix our messed-up under-culture, men need to teach our younger men to behave as gentlemen.
As women we need to stand up for each other. Not judge. As women, wives, mothers and sisters it's certainly not our job to explain away the poor behaviour of sons, brothers, and friends.
My own brush with a hooker-like situation
I got into a hooker-like situation at college. Not as a full blown hooker. I was saved from anything truly dangerous by escaping out the window of a Waikiki Hotel ladies room.
When I was at college my friend asked if, for $50, I would go with her, several other students and a group of Middle Eastern sheikhs to dinner.
I thought, "Hey, free dinner! It sounds great!" What I didn't realise was that those men thought dinner companionship came with "extras". It was only when my friend said: "Follow me to the restroom. We have to escape out the window" that I realised I'd been hired for more than dinner conversation.
Was I a hooker? If I had been sexually assaulted would it have been my fault because I was paid to go to dinner with some businessmen in Honolulu?
I have no idea if the woman hired to strip for a bunch of victorious rugby players thought that it could turn nasty. Why is the default to always find blame with the woman and explain away the behaviour of our darling boys? Come on now!