Friday, 10 May 2013

Male Student Athlete Privilege

I watched a fabulous Australian film the other night, Wasted on the Young, which I think really gets to the heart of issues around rape and male sporting privilege. I'll try not to give too many spoilers, but the key event is that members of a private school swim team gang rape a female classmate who's been given drugs (presumably GBH) without her knowledge.

She's not portrayed as responsible for them raping her - the perpetrators are (yay!). But their response to it is heavily criticised: as many rapists in positions of privilege do, the swim team captain tells his victim that no-one will believe her, because he has all the power. But the film doesn't leave it there, it interrogates how those positions of privilege exist, and two of the characters say that it's because 'we' (ie: everyone who doesn't use a position of power to rape people) let it. So, audience, these athletes have these positions of power because *you* adulate them, *you* want to be like them, *you* let them get away with things that others would be punished for, *you* believe them over others because them swimming/playing/running on the team is more important than any person they might victimise.

It makes a pretty strong indictment of the bystander generally, showing that those who stand by and watch violence (sexual or otherwise) without trying to stop it are actually participating in it, particularly those who make up an 'audience'.

It's a bit uncomfortable to watch at times, but definitely worth watching!

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