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Love, s*x, pride and morality

By Barbara Biggs - posted Monday, 25 May 2009

There is an upside to the rugby sex scandal. In a refreshing change, the community has been forced to think about morality which has nothing to do with legality.

Normally, the media, and therefore the public, are only interested in injustices upheld by the legal system. But mostly, life isn’t that simple.

I myself, as a naïve and emotionally neglected teenager, participated in group and all kinds of other humiliating sex. I had been told by so many manipulative men from the age of 14 when, as a virgin I was raped, that “sex is what life’s all about”.


I know exactly why “Clare” may have “bragged” about her incident. I did the same. In an attempt to escape feeling like a victim, my head tried to reframe it as a choice - as grown up and cool.

Despite those efforts, it took “Clare’s” real feelings five days to push past her head. It took me four suicide attempts before I began to see what, to others, may have been obvious.

Nobody, then or now, teaches kids that there is sex, and love, and sometimes they go together and sometimes they don’t.

Hard though it may be for your average Joe to comprehend, there are many young people who somehow learned as children that you get love, attention and nurture by pleasing adults and/or being sexually compliant. Often it takes many humiliating experiences to learn the fallacy of such lessons.

Judicial responses are rarely the answer to such behaviour. Certainly, morality and legality could not be further polarised in our adversarial system.

Take this 2003 research from Christine Eastwood of the Queensland University of Technology, interviewing people involved in child sexual assault cases. Replace the word “child” for “victim” and you have in a nutshell why the system so frequently fails to successfully prosecute such behaviour.


Defence counsel expressed strong views to the researcher on the child’s role in the process. “The Crown don’t care about the child. The police don’t care about the child. And I don’t care about the child. The kid - see the trial is not about the child.”

This highly paid, upstanding member of the community said “if I am defending a bloke I want to make life difficult for their witnesses”. He went on to argue “I’m not there to find the truth … no one’s there to find the truth”.

An adversarial legal system is never going to force people to behave well.

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About the Author

Barbara Biggs is a former journalist and author of a two-part autobiography, In Moral Danger and The Road Home, launched in May 2004 by Peter Hollingworth and Chat Room in 2006. Her latest book is Sex and Money: How to Get More. Barbara is convenor of the National Council for Children Post-Separation,

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