"Our fans deserve better": erasing the victim of Blake Ferguson's sexual crime

Deb Waterhouse-Watson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

When rugby league star Blake Ferguson was arrested and charged with indecent assault in June 2013, for squeezing the vagina of a woman at a Cronulla night spot, the story made headlines around the country. It was the first sexual crime involving a National Rugby League (NRL) player to be reported since Brett Stewart was acquitted of sexual assault in 2010, and reporting of previous cases focused largely on footballers’ attitudes towards women, women’s behaviour towards footballers, and use of alcohol. Using mixed methods discourse analysis, this article shows that the first 2 weeks of print media reporting created a frame for the case that had nothing to do with sexual crime, attitudes towards women, or gender relations. Although Ferguson had a history of inappropriate behaviour towards women, and alcohol abuse, the alcohol frame was almost unanimously chosen, marginalising the sexual crime and Ferguson’s actual victim. In contrast to reporting of previous cases, the focus was overwhelmingly on the impact on Ferguson’s career, his well-being and the game (including teammates, fans, and the NRL). The primacy of sport, and use of language to represent the case, impedes serious consideration of problematic attitudes towards women and the seriousness of sexual crime.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)436-456
Number of pages21
JournalCommunication & Sport
Volume6
Issue number4
Early online date10 Aug 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2018

Keywords

  • sexual assault
  • rugby league
  • Australia
  • news frames
  • gender

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