Two senior, male, married AFL employees were forced to resign for “inappropriate relationships” of a sexual kind with two, junior, female employees. Highly respected newspaper, The Weekend Australian’s lead story headlined these relationships as “scandals”, implying shameful impropriety of boudoir behaviour.
Apparently, neither woman issued any formal complaint about the relationships nor has it been inferred that either the men’s or women’s work were negatively impacted by the sexual liaisons. In a psychological perspective, it appears to be very different, one of the women bemoaning to a friend via a text, that “I don’t know what to do. I’m so confused...” This scenario is in stark contrast to the Channel 7 female executive who had an affair with the station’s married CEO and subsequently attempted to besmirch his professional credibility.
One scribe suggested that concerns about fear of “a blokey culture” required the forced resignations at the AFL and CEO Gillon McLachlan since reaffirmed a commitment to “change” that culture.
However, both the females in the AFL are well-educated, supposedly intelligent and of mature age, embarking on the relationships with eyes wide open. Or so I assume. There has been no comment that the men endeavoured to exercise their superior status over the women who worked in separate departments.
So if it is only about the sex per se, why did the men have to resign? Why weren’t the women forced to resign similarly? More pertinently, why should have either the men or the women been forced to resign because of who they chose to indulge with sexually? The story mentioned a recent review of the AFL’s Respect and Responsibility policy, steered by Federal Sex Discrimination commissioner, Kate Jenkins. This review has just been delivered to the AFL Commission, seemingly suggesting the two men’s indiscretions disrespected women. Though which women; their lovers, wives or women en masse? I’m unsure as to who was supposedly disrespected, though as a female, I certainly don’t feel such. Moreover, why was this review even relevant to the story?
Indeed, why are people’s sexual indulgences even a story? Respect and responsibility for behaviour, be it in the boudoir or boardroom, must be a two-way street. Do the women involved in these affairs actually ‘respect’ themselves and/or the men? Were they so naive, or stupid, to think an affair with a married man would have “a happy ending?” Reality documents few ever do. Maybe a tertiary education is no guarantee of knowledge, understanding or being street smart about interpersonal relationships.
In this context, the AFL’s high moral ground is undermined by its inaction and thus tacit acceptance of Richmond player, Dustin Martin, and his apparent threat to stab a woman patron in a bar with a chopstick which I believe should have resulted in a much harsher penalty than a two-week suspension by his club.
Threatening assault, with the potential of a deadly outcome is a crime, yet two men choosing to have mutually consenting sex with another adult is not contravening any law and warrants the sack. What is the more serious misdemeanour? Some may shout the men’s infidelity was immoral, but for me, the two men having to resign is immoral, not their sexual behaviour.
It seems our social sexual mores are still deeply entrenched in reactionary revolt that have nothing to do with respect or responsibility but more to do with maintaining a facade of our favourite sons as saints rather than sinners, perfect in every way with their humanness irrelevant.