Don't Blame Women, Blame The Lack Of Role Models In The Game
Studio 10 host Sarah Harris put it well today when she spoke of the NRL's "never-ending scandal".
And this really is the issue that never ends.
You might've thought you could take a brief rest from appalling allegations of sex videos circulated without with the consent of the women involved -- and every other shocking allegation involving behaviour towards women in the NRL's off-season from hell.
Then out comes Steve Mortimer, a respected NRL legend who on the eve of International Women's day just go it so, so hopelessly wrong when he said:
"I think it can also be the young ladies that are looking for a little bit of notice."
The inference was unmistakable. Ladies, it's your fault for putting yourself in these positions, and social media had one of its rare moments of unanimity in condemning the comment.
But few put it better than the Studio 10 guests on Friday.
"Insensitive and out of touch with what's going on," said panelist Kate Peck,
"Classic victim blaming and shaming," said Yvie Jones.
"Well if the girls had kept themselves nice in the first place, maybe the boys wouldn't have been forced to do this," Sarah Harris added mockingly.
"What were they wearing? What were they drinking. Whey were they there? Why were they breathing?" Jones responded in a clear dig at the standards applied to women, but never men.
"Women should stay inside until they get married and have a family," Harris added, still in mocking mode.
And while women across Australia quite rightly are mocking Steve Mortimer today, here's the thing.
The 62-year-old former NSW State of Origin captain and Bulldogs player is actually widely regarded as a gentleman and genuine good guy. This is not to excuse his comments, but it's to point out that he holds values from a different era -- an era when "nice girls" didn't put themselves in trouble.
As we all know now, nice girls are perfectly entitled to dance till dawn in the hottest nightclub in town in whatever they choose to wear, if that rocks their boat.
That doesn't make them trashy, and it certainly doesn't make them any more deserving of the ridicule or sexual predation of men. It just makes them women exercising a lifestyle choice -- which at its core, is what feminism is all about.
So here's the problem with Steve Mortimer. It's not just that he holds the antiquated views of yesteryear. It's that Steve Mortimer is the wrong bloke to comment on this issue.
And the wider problem is that the NRL old boys club is full of figures like Steve Mortimer who say things like "ladies are looking for a bit of notice".
What today's NRL players need are younger, better male role models. Men who understand that you treat every single woman alive with respect -- from a librarian to a politician to a pole dancer.
Simple as that.
Don't hate Steve Mortimer. Hate the fact that in the 30 years since he hung up his football boots, too many NRL players have not been exposed to younger men with modern views towards women.
Men they can relate to, listen to, and model their behaviour off. Surely they're out they're somewhere.