We've been a little busy here, arguing about abortion - too busy to turn our attention to the incredibly misogynist comments of erstwhile Rugby World Cup Ambassador Andy Haden. I can't speak for the others on this, but I tend to operate on a One Sexist Arse A Day Limit. Andy has had to wait his turn. He'll no doubt be relieved to hear that today is his day.
Having previously shown he's just a teeny bit racist, Haden came out earlier this week as a sexist too. Hopefully he'll be happy with the double and not come back later for a trifecta attempt with something hideously homophobic. Somehow I am not feeling very reassured about that.
So what did he say that was so so awful (possible triggering ahead around rape):
From the Herald:
He was talking about historic sex allegations against former All Black Robin Brooke made by two unnamed women.
"There's a bloke called Hugh Grant - he got into a bit of trouble like this and I think if the cheque bounces sometimes, they only realise that they've been raped, you know, sometimes," he said.
"These things have got two sides to them and I think you can get on the front foot.
"It's an equal society now, some of these girls are targeting rugby players and targeting sportsmen and they do so at their peril today, I think."
Charming. Rape is fair turn-about for women who want spend time with sportsmen. And of course it's only rape if a woman doesn't get what she wanted. Is he actually meaning to imply that rugby players aren't very good at sex?
Haden is of course entitled to be a sexist arse. He can hold these views and I can't stop him. Even though he is very very wrong. What he can't do is spout this kind of crap when he's in a public role, representing us as an ambassador (even if it is about the Rugby World Cup).
Even being charitable about the time aspect, McCully didn't have to go and accept the resignation "with sadness". Unless that sadness was based on being saddened that there are still people who think that women ask for rape in this country.
Maybe McCully was teary-eyed at the thought that Haden's resignation didn't contain an apology, but instead reads so*:
Dear Murray, I wish to advise that I have decided to resign my role as an honorary Ambassador of the Government's 2011 Rugby World Cup programme. I do so to ensure that neither your leveraging initiatives or the game of Rugby that I love are compromised by the current media backlash to the comments I have made on television recently. I feel that to stay in the role, given the current media beat-up, would mean having to remove myself from making public comments on the game or related issues. I have always believed in saying what I think and I will always be true to myself in that regard and it's a sad day for society when people such as I are unable to express what we believe without a media beat-up from those with sectional interests.I used to love rugby too (although possibly not enough to give it a capital R in the middle of a sentence). I grew up with pictures of rugby players on my walls, not to ogle them or secretly kiss them before bedtime, but because I was truly into the game itself. I didn't want to marry a rugby player, or indeed ever meet one, I just wanted to watch them play because I caught a love of the game from my father.
It was idiots like Haden that turned me off rugby. All the trappings that accompanied the first XV at my school (who weren't actually very good, they weren't even in the first grade of the local high schools' competition); the special treatment they received, how they got off when they did something wrong, and how quickly they bought into this mentality of God-like status once they made the team. I knew as a teen that it was wrong, but I didn't realise how ingrained it was in our country until I got older and started to see it writ large in the ABs and the rugby culture that surrounds them even after they can no longer pass the ball without creaking.
Haden is part of that culture, part of perpetuating it, and as an Elder Statesman of the game when he mutters about "darkies" and women asking for rape his words are heard widely and with authority. The fact that he can't see that, the fact that he can't even see his own privilege in having public platforms to make his pratfalls from, certainly makes me sad, even if it doesn't particularly grieve McCully.
I think Haden, and McCully, can consider this episode something of a diplomacy FAIL.
* The only place I could find such a full account of the resignation email was this really truly awful media release from SOLO (Lindsay Perigo) entitled Andy Haden - On Of The Few Honest And Courageous Men In NZ Public Life. I don't recommend making with the clicky, but wanted to be fair about acknowledging where I got it from.