The alleged behaviour in the latest rugby league scandal reflects a pandemic of objectification and is a stark indication of the state of love and intimacy in our society, say two leading figures in the formation of Catholic men and families.
Robert Falzon, co-founder of the national Catholic men’s movement, menALIVE, said the sad events involving player Bryce Cartwright and an unknown woman, culminating in a $50,000 pay-off to abort a 16-week-old child, said “much about the state of manliness in the country”.
“It reflects a pandemic in our society,” Mr Falzon told The Catholic Weekly. “Essentially it says that men see woman as a consumable commodity. ‘I can consume you and do with you whatever I want, when I am finished (or you get pregnant), well, we will sort it out.’
“This problem has been made worse by the pornification of society, especially (among) men. So much so that sex is now only for personal gratification and there is no need for intimacy and love, that is just old fashioned – out of date. The only variables are frequency and variety.”
Chris Gordon, the director of the Life, Marriage and Family Centre, pointed to a similar rugby league scandal involving the now-deregistered player, Tim Simona, who was not debarred for telling his then-girlfriend, Jaya Taki, that he would not support the child, who was eventually aborted, but for match-betting.
(According to News Corp journalist Jessica Halloran, Ms Taki sought and found solace after the abortion at the crisis pregnancy centre, Sara’s Place, in Surry Hills).
Young men need mentors who will teach them what integrity as a man is about, Mr Gordon said. Young men in sport are, in the final analysis, people and not assets.
“A lot of (an elite footballer’s) understanding of what a man is would come from that football playing group,” he said.
“It shows there’s a lack of education as to what a man is. A man takes responsibility for his actions.
“Absentee fathers is also a huge problem; there are a lot of kids out there without a father on the scene. In some cases they are lucky enough to have another man in the family come in and provide for that role.
“Sometimes they seek out another group of men to get their identity from, their understanding of what a man is.”
Reflecting on his own time playing Australian football at university, he said he was able to avoid joining in a culture of picking up women through the fraternity of other Christian men on the team.
He also pointed to the broad acceptance of abortion as a valid “option” as a means of explaining contemporary relationships, contrasting it with the Christian understanding of how a man is called to love others.
“Our understanding of taking responsibility – doing the right thing – would be encouraging her to have the baby, have some presence in that baby’s life, be a father to that child.
“(The anonymous woman in the Cartwright case told media that) that is what she wanted, that she just wanted him to be a presence in the child’s life.
“She claims she didn’t want the $50,000; she just wanted him to take some responsibility.”
In raising his own son with his wife, he attempted to instill in him the virtues and dignity of a man’s general vocation, he said.
“With my son, (I dissuade him from) using violence to resolve things; he’s stronger than his sisters. I teach him that a gentleman doesn’t use his strength or violence against women – you don’t touch women. Men are protectors. A man uses his strength to protect others.”
menALIVE will host events in Sydney later on this year. For more information about menALIVE, visit www.menalive.org.au