Well, that blew up.

The Gillette ad is here (don’t read the comments):

A few more takes I liked from good tweeps:

Rugby culture does not have to be a toxic dump of bigotry

Sigh.

Chiefs players also hired a stripper on the night one of them was caught chanting a homophobic slur toward teammates.

Franchise bosses¬†have¬†confirmed a stripper was engaged by players for their post-season get-together¬†at a Waikato¬†hot¬†pool¬†and said he was “Very disappointed” and¬†conceded the¬†two incidents weren’t a good look for the professional sports franchise.

I agree. It’s not a “good look”. But not for any of the reasons Chiefs CEO Andrew Flexman thinks.

Because the problem is not, in fact, “the Chiefs hired a stripper.” Hiring a stripper, taboo and saucy as it may seem, is a very common, dare one say “normal” part of Western culture.

The problem is that the Chiefs hired a stripper, then crossed her professional and personal boundaries – and yes, those boundaries are still valid, even more valid, for sex workers.

And there’s a wider problem, but it’s not “the Chiefs hired a stripper, which is embarrassing and unprofessional, the very same night Michael Allardice was a homophobic git to his teammates, which got bad headlines.”

The wider problem is that the Chiefs in particular, and our rugby culture in general, has been (once again) exposed as a hotbed of sexism, homophobia, and small-minded bigotry.

What we’re dealing with here is the concept of toxic masculinity. No, it doesn’t mean “all masculinity is toxic” or “all men are sexist pigs”; it’s a very specific set of assumptions and attitudes which are incredibly harmful to everyone in a society. A few completely random examples of these attitudes are:

  • Real Men are heterosexual.
  • Real Men are sexually aggressive.
  • The worst thing that could happen to a Real Man is for someone to think he’s weak. Or gay.
  • Therefore, a Real Man will treat women, especially sex workers, as objects rather than human beings.
  • And also deflect attention and undermine other men by implying they’re gay, especially if they engage in non-strictly-masculine behaviour.

selena gomez just saying

Now, people may say “oh, nobody at the Chiefs intended to reinforce awful narrow-minded notions about women, masculinity, sex work and sexuality” but those people need to re-read the excuse Andrew Flexman came up with to excuse his players’ obnoxious behaviour:

But Flexman strongly denied the allegations of improper behaviour, saying the franchise had independent witnesses who saw nothing untoward toward the woman.

“You have got to remember this is one person’s accusation and her standing in the community and culpability is not beyond reproach,” Flexman said.

“Her standing in the community is not beyond reproach.” On what basis does he make this judgement call? Well, obviously. She’s a stripper. Not a real human being who can be trusted to say whether or not her professional and personal boundaries were transgressed.

It’s the basic sexual double standard. Women who strip for money? Deviant, unworthy of protection or dignity. The men who pay money to watch a woman strip? Phwoar, yeah, red-blooded, pure testosterone, etc.

Men who use homophobic slurs and abuse sex workers? Especially when they’re rugby-playing men? Well, look, obviously it’s not a good look or anything but obviously nothing serious happened. They were just doing what Real Men do.

You can see this whole attitude reflected in the article. “Chiefs in hot water” – not “Chiefs players disgrace themselves”. Why? “Over stripper fracas”. Not “Over acting like pigs.” Not “By assaulting a sex worker.” This headline practically screams, “this is not a serious story.” Its subtext is simple: sure, yes, the PC Brigade are going to complain but there’s no big story here, it’s just a little PR boo-boo.

Still, maybe we should hold judgement until that well-known arbiter of sexism in sport, unrepentant convicted abuser Tony Veitch, gives us his two cents on the matter.

Like the headline says: our rugby culture does not have to be a toxic pool of radioactive misogyny and homophobia. It is entirely possible to enjoy sport, or play sport, as a competitive athletic endeavour of teamwork and skill and not act like a pack of vicious insecure bullies. Men don’t have to prove they’re Real Men through aggressively signalling “I AM A PERFECTLY NORMAL HETEROSEXUAL” by groping sex workers and shouting homophobic slurs.

There’s no such thing as one true model of A Real Man.

But if there were, it wouldn’t look like Andrew Flexman or his sad little rugby team.

Tony Veitch isn’t repentant, he’s making it worse

[Content note: discuss of intimate partner violence and apologism]

Tony Veitch, noted violent unremorseful dude, had a piece on his unremorse published in the Herald on Mother’s Day, for editorial reasons I cannot fathom. I haven’t read the piece. The reactions I saw online told me everything I needed to know and I wasn’t going to subject my brain to it, nor reward the Herald with a pageview.

There is only one thing I ever need to hear from Tony Veitch. It’s a simple enough thing: an acknowledgement of what he did, and a commitment to change. This piece doesn’t do that. It makes it worse.

https://twitter.com/Don_Rowe/status/729152333792223232

When Tony Veitch “acknowledges what he’s done” but only to make it all about HIS suffering and HIS experience, he makes it worse.

When he pretends it was “just one time”, he makes it worse.

When he keeps demanding a second chance or a fair go but NEVER shows genuine, unqualified remorse for his abusiveness, he makes it worse.

When Tony Veitch as a famous dude in sports entertainment does NOTHING to educate men or challenge our culture of violence, HE MAKES IT WORSE.

There are things men can do to really challenge family violence in New Zealand. Tony Veitch has done none of these things. Because every single time, it’s all about Tony Veitch.

The reality is this: Tony Veitch was, and remains, a danger to women.

~

Steve Dunne, the father of Kristin Dunne-Powell, has also commented on the Herald piece.

If you have used violence and want to change, there’s a list of agencies who can help on the It’s Not OK website. There’s also ideas about how to work to stop violence in sports communities.

If you’re in Wellington and have engaged in sexually harmful behaviour and want to change, talk to WellStop.

Tony Veitch is a danger to women

[Content note: violence against women, intimate partner violence, graphic images]

Things you can see on Tony Veitch’s Facebook page right now

This image, shared by Tony Veitch himself:

veitch 1

This comment by Tony Veitch himself:

veitch 3

This image shared by a fan of the page, liked by 11 people, and not moderated or removed 12 hours after it was posted:

veitch 2

And this self-pitying tirade by Veitchy, referring to his struggles “rebuilding his life and career” after “what was a hideous relationship”:

veitch 4

Then there’s this¬†post (now deleted; see below)¬†accusing media who are reporting this story of just being jealous because he turned down a job offer.

veitch media attack

Things you can’t see on Tony Veitch’s Facebook page right now, or ever

  • Any kind of acknowledgement that he committed an act of violence which broke a woman’s back and put her temporarily in a wheelchair
  • The fact that the “hideous relationship” he’s claiming to be the victim in may have involved long-term abuse and physical violence¬†committed by him.

This cannot surprise us. This is how our society treats violent men who have the privilege of whiteness and an association with the cult of sport.

Take this 2013 article about how¬†awesome Tony Veitch’s year was. It never¬†mentions that he broke a woman’s back. It talks about a “bombshell” – but only in reference to the hush money he tried to pay his ex partner. And only after 8 paragraphs painting him¬†as a tragic hero, fighting¬†so hard to rebuild his whole life after … well, nothing really, just “one charge of injuring with reckless intent.”

And check out this bio on the Newstalk ZB website:

veitch bio

Do you see the problem? I see the problem.

Maybe Tony Veitch is no longer the kind of guy who allegedly chases his partner through a house, pins her to beds and punches her. But he is¬†a man who casually uses violent language. A man who is utterly, utterly unrepentant about his own violent history. A man who jokes about violence and encourages jokes about violence. A man who stands as an example of what you can get away with if you’re rich, famous and white enough.

Not only was his “apology” a litany of excuses. Not only was he almost immediately granted “a second chance”. He now, unapologetically, deliberately,¬†defiantly encourages people to joke about violence, including domestic violence against women. He is an active creator of toxic masculinity.

He may not be a direct threat¬†to the women in his life, now. But he’s a danger to every woman in society.