Over the last week there has been a mainstream uproar after alternate press and women’s groups responded to a radio interview where a young women was pushed into admitting she was raped (unbeknownst to the interviewers). Specific attention has been given to one the radio show’s hosts’ immediate response to the young women’s unexpected revelation. Whilst the radio interview, its approach and the actions of the hosts were very questionably (to say the least), media attention has focused on this as a single isolated event rather than being based in a broader problematic socio-cultural issue. Should we expect more?
The radio show in question, and the downfall of the male host, is receiving headline coverage, including his removal from the air, and from the panel of ‘reality’ show Australian Idol. The situation emerged with a ‘lie detector stunt’. The young women’s mother rang in to get her to answer questions about her experiences with sex and drugs (her mother was aware that she had been raped, which begs another question).
The whole premise of the segment/stunt was clearly tabloid, almost gutter (can I use the word) journalism. However, the reaction of the media to this is more of a problem. The immediate response of the host was very poor (which he has admitted), seeming an attempt to divert attention away from the allegation, and he was clearly stunned, whilst ending the segment. This response acted to trivialise the matter, furthering the connotations of the question and adding to the young women’s trauma, which had been increasing during the interrogation.
In his response to the almost immediate wide-spread coverage of the issue, aware of what he had done (at least to a degree more than I assume many, including myself, would have expected given the radio show), the host attempted to take responsibility for what happened, seeking to highlight the need for the young women’s welfare to be the priority. This does not take away from what had transpired, yet the mainstream press has focussed on what he did rather than seeking to promote the interests of the young women.
Not taking away from the trauma the young women has suffered by the rape itself and then the radio show, the biggest travesty is the how this has been handled as a abhorrent and isolated event. Too many people in society respond to rape in trivialised ways. An incident such as this should be used to foster broader education for cultural change, yet the focus on the radio host is doing little more than leaving such broader responses and perspective unchallenged. They are somewhat being normalised by focusing on this as an isolated, worse, event.
Given the last few years exposure of the culture towards women in rugby league, with numerous rapes, non-consensual group sex, and alcohol abuse that were once looked at in a similar manner (isolated events), I had hoped for more. If it can be finally accepted that there is a very poor attitude towards women in rugby league, and some actions are being taken to address this, why is it not the case with this incident. Perhaps the attempts to isolate the rugby league incidents with specific teams are indicative enough (damage control, not admitting how widespread the issue is). Selective interrogation of such issues and events leaves a lot to be desired.