The Richmond Photo Scandal is the latest controversy to hit Australian sports. While celebrating their AFL success, a member of the Richmond playing staff took pictures of a woman posing nude with a championship medal. The photos were then disseminated online, and have been widely shared since. The woman involved complained to police that the photo was made public without her knowledge or consent, and after being assured by the player that the photos had been deleted.
The player may face a criminal charge: there are laws in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia stating that the circulating of an "invasive" image without consent is a criminal offence. The AFL, meanwhile, are investigating the matter too, with the Herald Sun reporting that the AFL are considering a four-match suspension for any player found to be involved in the circulating of the images.
The issue was debated on the television show Sports Sunday on Australian TV, with Tadhg Kennelly among the panelists.
Kennelly gave his view that a suspension for any of the players involved would be overly-harsh, instead calling for the counseling and education of the player involved, querying why the woman in question had "put herself in that position in the first place". He also praised the education programmes in the AFL. That clip is below:
What should the punishment be to the player who is found for circulating the topless photo? #9SportsSunday pic.twitter.com/LCO6qH0STv
— Sports Sunday (@SportsSunday) October 14, 2017
Kennelly repeated this assertion later in the show, saying that a suspension for the player would be "way over the top". Host Emma Freedman, when asked for her opinion, said that the girl should not have taken her clothes off. That clip is available to be viewed below:
ICYMI: @Peter_Fitz was outraged over the recent controversy surrounding the Richmond Football Club. #9SportsSunday pic.twitter.com/vOrn1Ilx5m
— Sports Sunday (@SportsSunday) October 15, 2017
Both Kennelly and Freedman have been criticised for their views, with this tweet by journalist Geoff Lemon illustrative of the tenor of much of the criticism:
The Tadgh Kennelly & Emma Freedman takes are gross. Non-consenually sharing naked pictures is illegal and shit. There's no grey area.
— Geoff Lemon Sport (@GeoffLemonSport) October 15, 2017
Amid the criticism, Freedman released a statement via Twitter to clarify her opinion:
I did not blame the woman involved. I did not 'woman bash'.
For those who have gone over the top to abuse me for what I said today, let me clarify. I consider myself a feminist. But I also take into consideration, in this modern day and age, the vulnerable position of women.
I agree, the player who distributed the photo unlawfully should be held accountable. It is of course illegal to distribute a photograph without consent! But women (and men) are taken advantage of all the time, especially in situations involving alcohol.
Consenting and choosing to take part in a photograph, such as the one that was distributed, is dangerous. I’m not saying it’s wrong or bad. I’m saying it’s dangerous. I would love for us to live in a world where people keep their promises and do the right thing. They often don’t.
I feel very sorry for the woman involved. It’s humiliating for her, But the taking of that photograph, put her in a vulnerable position. How can we absolutely trust someone will delete a photograph? We can’t. As we’ve seen over the last week.
Maybe I’m overly careful and very distrusting of others, possibly to my fault. You may not agree with me, but hopefully you can understand.
Let’s hope that in the future we can all be free to engage in things like this.
Here's the statement in full:
Hopefully this helps clarify my comments on today’s show. I respect others positions, hopefully you can do the same with mine 😊 pic.twitter.com/7sD5BoDh6t
— Emma Freedman (@emma_freedman) October 15, 2017
Much of the criticism for Freedman's statement and her original comment is that it focuses on the behaviour of the victim and her role in the situation rather than condemning that actual aggressor, in this case, the man who chose to share the photo without her consent.