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Foreskin’s lament

Written By: - Date published: 9:17 am, August 7th, 2016 - 49 comments
Categories: discrimination, feminism, sexism, sport - Tags: , , ,

Chiefs fans flags during the Super Rugby match, Chiefs v Hurricanes at Waikato Stadium, Hamilton, New Zealand on Friday 28 June 2013. Photo: Andrew Cornaga/Photosport.co.nz

Chiefs fans flags during the Super Rugby match, Chiefs v Hurricanes at Waikato Stadium, Hamilton, New Zealand on Friday 28 June 2013. Photo: Andrew Cornaga/Photosport.co.nz

In 1980, when Rugby and the New Zealand state were in full wedded bliss, playwright Greg McGee decided to draw back the curtains on this sport’s seething dynamics of sexuality, gender relations, bullying, and violence. The name of the play, after the nickname for the lead role, was Foreskin’s Lament.

In the intervening 35 years to 2016, that play’s moral force still holds true. But now, we get to track the trajectory of our gender relations to other countries’, as they arc far away from us.

Let’s start with the obvious. The team playing for the 2016 Super Rugby grand final got deliberately drunk and hired a stripper. Vying for greatest club Rugby team in the southern hemisphere, team management felt that this was good. So to all the tens of thousands of women Rugby players in the world, FYI: this is what is really inside the Chiefs minds when they think of women. It’s fully approved.

A week before Rugby players of both genders finally go before an Olympic television audience of billions, male senior management in New Zealand’s top club believe it’s time to organize an event where the whole team pay a woman to take her clothes off in front of them, call her a “filthy slut” (according to the stripper), grope her, spit beer at her, and get her to use sex toys. Not since 1980 has Rugby and our nation bound themselves together in more perfect union.

Just in case it needed pointing out how damaging it is to New Zealanders to act according to such values about women, the Chairman of Saatchi and Saatchi Kevin Roberts responded to someone saying “sexual harassment is endemic in the media, advertising, and every industry”, with: “I think she’s got problems that are of her own, making up a lot of stuff to create a profile, and to take the applause, and to get on a soap[box].” He continued: “I don’t think [the lack of women in leadership roles] is a problem. … I can’t talk about sexual discrimination because we’ve never had a problem, thank goodness.”

Kevin Roberts did not spit beer onto a stripper.

But Saatchi’s parent company Publicis immediate put him on indefinite leave. Roberts resigned within 24 hours. Publicis and Saatchi’s understood what was at stake in the values they represent globally, and the brands they put up to represent those values. They are not shining beacons of sexual sensitivity, but for those comments they fired his ass faster than he could inhale breath.

What would Publicis and Saatchi’s do to the Hurricanes for hiring a stripper, and getting her to use sex toys on herself in front of the team? Answer: they would act commensurate with the values that have been put at risk.

But we do know what a major New Zealand sponsor would do. They would state in immediate defence: “What do you expect when a girl takes her clothes off in front of a group of young men?” That was from Margaret Comer, spokesperson for Gallagher Group. Yep, one of New Zealand’s largest exporters.

The way New Zealand Rugby treats women is not just some little domestic issue. It is a globally damaging issue for Rugby as a sport and as a brand at its Olympic breakthrough. It is a globally damaging issue for Gallaghers commercially. To state it: what damages women damages us all.

Just in case we thought the damage was done, the issue is now under Police investigation. Mr Rob Nichol, the chief executive of the New Zealand Rugby Players Association said on Radio New Zealand that Chiefs players were unlikely to lose their jobs over the stripper scandal. Possibly a little early for such a definitive statement.

The Chiefs and their sponsor Gallagher Group have shown that New Zealand gender and sexuality issues hold all New Zealanders back across the world, not only in the massive sport of Rugby. They have not understood the scale of leadership and commercial damage to themselves, to men, and to women. They have not understood that their values about women hold us all back, even as they seek to make Rugby’s brand dominate the world stage.

New Zealand Rugby should ask themselves, lamenting, the same question that concluded Foreskin’s Lament 35 years ago:

“Whaddarya?
Whaddarya?
Whaddarya?”

49 comments on “Foreskin’s lament”

  1. gsays 1

    FYI, satchi’s ad man is Kevin Roberts.

  2. Richardrawshark 2

    And they fired the stripper, the strippers employer. For what i’d really like to know, refusing to blow the players, refusing to be groped, refusing to be called a filthy slut..

    She was paid to strip and waitress, and when a women says NO she bloody well means it i’d assume!

    I hope she sues that employer for wrongful dismissal and takes them to the cleaners!

    As for Rugby.. I do not watch it, it’s crap!

    Since Keys such a ruggers fanboi one should ask him his opinion on it. I bet he’d come out with a great one liner! yea nah.

    • Vagabundo 2.1

      Did you actually read the articles on it? She worked for multiple agencies anyway, and the one that gave her the sack wasn’t the one that arranged her for the Chiefs. She was fired because the agency that she worked for had a strict no-touching policy, which she allegedly broke routinely in exchange for extra money, but that she has also hired a lawyer, presumably to protect herself and probably proceed with wrongful dismissal charges.

    • srylands 2.2

      You have your story arse about (no pun intended). She was fired because she broke the conditions of her employment. She was not allowed to (allegedly) charge $50 to have her arse (allegedly) licked.

      And BTW the name of the New Zealand Prime Minister is Rt Hon John Key. It is not “KeyS”. FFS show some respect to the Office.

      • Richardrawshark 2.2.1

        I’m not backwards, at the point it got out of hand she said no. Don’t think i’m so stupid either to know most of these “stripper” shows are hookers earning a dollar on the side. At least they get to choose who and yes or no, unlike the streets and hard pimps.

        Her employers line is a joke I bet if you looked in depth at any of the other girls said employer was employing they didn’t fire, what do you think you’ll find? Mother superior of the girls of chastity nunnery?

        Like I’m saying no’s no, no matter when where or why. hope she sues the employer and I read a couple articles before this post was even published and it sounded like that particular employer fired her, knowing the media or me, mistakes happen, thanks for politely pointing out my error in a non gloating you idiot way. 🙂

        • Richardrawshark 2.2.1.1

          oh and ps I was only referring to this on the one news page

          “The woman, known as Scarlette, claims the players were drunk, swore at her and touched her despite requests not to at the event at Okoroire hot pools, near Matamata.

          Strippers R Us business owner Rachael Kirk told NZME that Scarlette had been let go from the company.

          which leads me to ask where do you get your information from to say it was another company”

          • Vagabundo 2.2.1.1.1

            Probably from the Fairfax article that identifies the agency this Scarlette woman got sacked from was called Strippers R Us, but the agency through which the Chiefs booked her was an entirely different one.

            ‘”It was not a job through me,” Kirk said. “It was through another agency … I believe it was a Hamilton-based company.”

            It is understood the Chiefs job was booked via Hamilton-based Go Wild Strippers. The company’s managing director, Shelley Meecham, is currently overseas and was not immediately available to respond to inquiries.’

            I dunno, is that a bit ambiguous?

      • reason 2.2.2

        Tax haven john ????

        He’s the sort of toe rag who would twist and use out of context the words of a real man speaking out against our no1 world cup status in domestic violence …..

        I think he’s a nasty drunk with a thing for little girls hair …… he’s proud to be that sort of man.

        A good colloquial term to teach children for having a shit is …..” going for a right honorable”

        … “mummy I need a right Honorable” ……. ” quick sit on your potty and do a smelly john keys “

      • Irascible 2.2.3

        I’ve always thought that the term Right Honorable before Key’s name was an oxymoron. I also believe that he has never shown any respect for the office he holds as his behaviour on Radio shock jock shows and penchants for stroking waitresses’ hair demonstrate.

      • framu 2.2.4

        respect is earned, not demanded

  3. Vagabundo 3

    I know that due to the size of the sport here, rugby union is an easy target, but can you not paint them all with the same brush? The NZRPA and the NZRU are two distinct organisations, and the NZRPA is basically an advocacy group for players.

    There’s no mention here that the NZRU has initiated an investigation, the scope of which has now been widened after another stripper has come forward with allegations and that Steve Hansen has expressed a strong disapproval of what happened (not to mention that he was a part of the coaching panel when this kind of thing was banned within the All Blacks environment in 2004), or that the Chiefs doing this sort of Mad Monday idiocy is now considered an anomaly in the game.

    Also, the Chiefs were not playing in the final in Wellington last night, nor were they “playing to be the best club rugby team in the Southern Hemisphere.”

    Basically, the Chiefs aren’t “all of NZ rugby,” their end-of-season antics is seen outside of the norm, and the people that are actually administering the game are currently acting on the information revealed so far.

    • BM 3.1

      The liberal left love any opportunity to put the boot into rugby.

      • Gangnam Style 3.1.1

        Oh fuck off, plenty of rugby supporters on the ‘loony left’. They also hate hobbits too remember.

        • BM 3.1.1.1

          Yeah, yeah, the liberal left salivates over this stuff,

          It’s all “Oh those nasty neanderthals and their big muscles, don’t they realize real men read poetry and aren’t afraid to be in touch with their feminine side!!”.

      • weka 3.1.2

        “The liberal left love any opportunity to put the boot into rugby.”

        You are so behind the times BM (my very left biased twitter feed has been full of pro-rugby tweets all weekend). Your oneliner meme attacks are boring not least because they’re usually so innacurate. Is that the best you’ve got?

        • One Anonymous Bloke 3.1.2.1

          He was never in the times to begin with. Sport crosses all social and political boundaries and always has 🙂

    • mauī 3.2

      Did you point out how the NZRU can run an independent investigation being in the position they’re in? And when some of their spokespeople, sponsors and players leave victims hung out to dry? They did bring out the AB head coach for comment to lessen the damage too.

      • Vagabundo 3.2.1

        If you could kindly point out where the NZRU have done anything wrong on this issue, or what Steve Hasnsen said, when asked about it at a press conference mind you, that was wrong, then that’d be grand, thanks.

      • Bob 3.2.2

        Can you please point out how the NZR (no longer NZRU) can run an independent investigation into an event run by a privately owned club?
        Why should the NZR’s sponsors and spokespeople have anything to do with a privately owned club?

        You are trying to create an issue that doesn’t exist. Focus on the Chiefs, their management, their sponsors and their players.

        • mauī 3.2.2.1

          Some of the players (all blacks) in the franchise are contracted to NZRU, and the players who also play provincial rugby have some kind of contract with NZRU too don’t they? A Super rugby team has very close links to the NZRU as far as I can see. Calling them a private entity is like calling CERA a private entity and ignoring the Government is any way involved with them.

        • joe90 3.2.2.2

          Can you please point out how the NZR (no longer NZRU) can run an independent investigation into an event run by a privately owned club?

          The Chiefs are a wholly owned subsidiary of NZR with private operators, provincial unions and a group of investors, holding six year management rights.

          Dollars to donuts NZR has set off-field conduct conditions.

  4. weka 4

    I’m not sure about the ‘this affects us all because of the brand’ thing, Ad. The problem with looking at it that way is that while it might work in the short or medium term, in the long term if the values of the power holders change then we regress. Ask women who were relatively liberated in the Middle East in the 1970s. Unless the values are built deep into the culture, the risk remains. If looking at international reputation is part of that deep building, great. But if it’s simply that this thing hurts our brand, then it’s not going to be enough to sustain us in the long term. I’d like to see men changing because they see how it affects them and the women in their lives in a very personal way.

    • Ad 4.1

      Agree with that.

    • miravox 4.2

      Thanks weka, this is pretty much how I’ve been thinking about the reputational damage approach to preventing these behaviours. At the individual level our courts clearly show that reputational damage is not a strong enough threat to prevent misogynistic practices and sexual assault in the workplace and elsewhere.

      I guess the only value of a wider reputational damage approach is that it might encourage people to step in when they see or suspect objectification and sexual assault. But it’s as if working to encourage people to understand that their sons practice what they see and hear and read; and their daughters, partners, wives and mothers may be put at risk of objectification and sexual assault is not enough to change the attitudes and behaviours.

      As if the social cost of misogyny and sexual assault and treating people with respect and consideration come second to money and reputation.

      [yes, I know ‘women do it too’]

  5. mosa 5

    Rob Nichol the C E O of NZ Rugby Players association” does not think any of the players will loose their jobs over this stripper scandal.
    His attitude is exactly what is wrong here.
    Why shouldnt the players face consequences for their actions ?
    If a normal joe behaved like that there would be disciplinary action if there was a complaint laid so why not rugby players at any level.
    Rugby has such a privileged over hyped over funded mass coverage in this country and its players treated like landed gentry that somehow that puts them above other kiwis in terms of what is unacceptable behaviour, its almost like well i am a lauded rugby player so i will do what i like and not face any consequences.
    It is one of the last bastions of male superiority from years gone by and has not adapted and changed with the rest of the country.
    The code has huge reach and influence not enjoyed by other sports in NZ which is why Mr Nichol should remember that his sport has mass coverage including young children and teenagers and like a business now its proffesional it should be concerned about perception and reputation and lead by example.

    • Vagabundo 5.1

      It’s not his call to make anyway.

    • Grantoc 5.2

      Good points Mosa

      The players involved in this event are employees. They have bought their employer into disrepute, which is a sackable offence, should the employer choose to make the case.

      The review into this event, if its not a whitewash, is likely to confirm the allegation made by ‘Scarlet’. What will be interesting is whether or not the employer, which I presume is the NZ Rugby Union will fire these players for bringing the game and the employer into disrepute.

      • mosa 5.2.1

        The chiefs are these players employer and my pick is like the government it will be swept under the rug as usual.
        Scarlet has been fired so a sacrifice has been made so no rugby casualties from this one.

      • BM 5.2.2

        Eye witnesses have said “Scarlet” is making up shit.

        • Mrs Brillo 5.2.2.1

          That deserves the Mandy Rice-Davies response.

        • framu 5.2.2.2

          would you like a shovel for that hole your digging?

          • BM 5.2.2.2.1

            Hotel manager Cushla Wood said she was not in the bar for the strip show but was told the stripper had drinks in the bar with the team afterwards, which hardly suggested she was scared of them.

            A Mt Manganui man, who didn’t want to be named, said he watched Scarlette perform but didn’t see players do anything untoward.

            Concerned at the media coverage, he’d contacted Chiefs management and told them he and his friend would be witnesses for them if an investigation took place.

            “The guys were as good as gold, apart from a bit of chanting.”

            The man said the stripper used sex toys during her performance and got one of the younger Chiefs players down on the ground.

            He said he heard her talking with the players afterwards about joining them on the team bus. They all then walked off towards the bus together. However, the stripper said she left.

            The Weekend Herald understands investigators have been told no players had touched the stripper. It is understood they were told that a player’s friend had performed a sexual act on the stripper, but nobody else had.

            http://www.nzherald.co.nz/sport/news/article.cfm?c_id=4&objectid=11688180

            I think I’d trust these people above an individual who’d let some one lick their bum for $50.00

            • te reo putake 5.2.2.2.1.1

              “I think I’d trust these people above an individual who’d let some one lick their bum for $50.00”

              It’s the price that offends you, isn’t it? You’ve posted hundreds of bum licking comments here on TS and you’ve only just realised you’ve missed out on a legitimate business opportunity. Slow learner?

              • BM

                Doesn’t really sound like the “stripper” was being very factual with her comments does it.

                • Actually, she sounds entirely believable. And your link only provides one alleged witness contradicting her, and that anonymous person doesn’t sound particularly convincing. Get back to us when you’ve stopped digging the hole, OK?

                • mauī

                  An invisible man comes forward 5 days after the event to say things were completely different. Although at least you could say that is better than the dozens of other invisible men there who seem to have completely forgotten what happened that night. And with the power that a rugby team has in society its not surprising that some people will back them to the hilt.

            • Psycho Milt 5.2.2.2.1.2

              The liberal left illiberal right love any opportunity to put the boot into rugby strippers.

        • Psycho Milt 5.2.2.3

          Eye witnesses have said “Scarlet” is making up shit.

          Oh, she must be – after all, history shows just how wildly unlikely it is that drunken rugby players would engage in bullying or sexual assault. /sarc

  6. reason 6

    BM knows a lot about rugby and what the marist ‘brothers’ taught him ….

    A bit of ball grabbing ( or the jubilee twist ) is very macho ……

    And Drunk rugby players would never act like rutting pack animals ………….

    A quite bit of quiet domestic violence is as far as it goes for his role models.

  7. vto 7

    if it is legitimate to be a stripper, is it legitimate to watch a stripper?

    confusion reigns

    • mosa 7.1

      Its illegitimate too touch one.
      End of confusion.

      • vto 7.1.1

        Not the question.

        • One Anonymous Bloke 7.1.1.1

          Yes, and what a stupid loaded question it is: no-one is being accused of looking.

          • vto 7.1.1.1.1

            From Advantage above

            “Let’s start with the obvious. The team playing for the 2016 Super Rugby grand final got deliberately drunk and hired a stripper. Vying for greatest club Rugby team in the southern hemisphere, team management felt that this was good. So to all the tens of thousands of women Rugby players in the world, FYI: this is what is really inside the Chiefs minds when they think of women. It’s fully approved.”

            and

            “A week before Rugby players of both genders finally go before an Olympic television audience of billions, male senior management in New Zealand’s top club believe it’s time to organize an event where the whole team pay a woman to take her clothes off in front of them”

            • Psycho Milt 7.1.1.1.1.1

              The context of that being the reputational impact of that on the businesses involved (rugby being a business these days). Whether watching a stripper is “legitimate” or not is irrelevant to issues of reputation in the market.

              • vto

                I think Ad is referencing more than just the impact on business and making money …

                Aren’t you Ad?

  8. Westiechick 8

    Yuck.

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