Sunday, August 16, 2009

The teenage sex scandal that rocked Australian radio

If you are in Australia and reading this you're probably sick of hearing about this story now, since it dominated the news for a week or so. 2Day FM hosts Kyle Sandilands and Jackie O were suspended after a stunt that involved a 14-year-old girl being strapped to a lie detector while her mother asked her about whether she had sex. This is bad enough, but the girl's statement that she had been raped, and then Sandilands' reaction, caused a media storm. Here is the audio of the incident:

I give Jackie O a bit of credit for showing some compassion after the bombshell was dropped, but the warning bells should have gone off long before that. I expect nothing more than that from Sandilands, he's a vile worm of a guy who thinks nothing of crudely demolishing the self-esteem of teenagers in front of a national audience in his role as judge on Australian Idol (how does a kid recover from being called a "mong" on national TV?). But the girl's mother also deserves condemnation for exposing her daughter to those questions so publicly. Even the Jerry Springer show would have misgivings about something like this.

However, what really amazed me was the interview this week of the girl's aunts and cousin, on Channel 9's A Current Affair. They claimed that the girl, "Rachel" had not in fact been raped and the sex, which occurred when she was 12-years-old and drunk, was completely consensual. Watch below, it's jaw-dropping stuff.

"Rachel" clearly has a lot of problems, but in my experience, a messed-up kid usually comes from a messed-up family. And that footage proves it.

A few points to raise here:

1) She "consented". She was 12. The boy apparently was 14. While the ages alone do not make it rape (2 years age difference is the legally defensible limit for kids at this age), it is still technically illegal. In any case, her family seem to think she had the decision-making capability of an adult, rather than a girl barely out of primary school.
2) She was drunk. Let's not even begin to talk about why a 12-year-old girl was drunk. The fact that she was in an altered state of mind means that her "consent" is very questionable indeed. Let's not forget that there still exist many males who see a drunk female as fair game to be taken advantage of.
3) "The boy had time to put on a condom" and "there was another girl on the top bunk." So what? By saying this, the aunt simply displays her mistaken notion that rape always involves the victim actively fighting the other person off and screaming. A naive young girl who is drunk, with a boy 2 years older, is in a very low position of power in this situation.

As a society we all-too-often make the mistake of seeing rape as a black-and-white issue - it was either rape or it was consensual. I'm not saying this girl's situation was definitely rape. But if it wasn't, it certainly falls into that grey area between consenting and unconsenting sex. The high profile case of the group sex involving former rugby star and TV commentator Matthew Johns also illustrates this point. There is a difference between clearly giving enthusiastic informed consent and simply "not saying no". ACA host Tracy Grimshaw won some respect for her tough interviewing of Johns about his conduct, and she does inject a little sanity into the above interview with "Rachel's" family of ignorant bogans. But really, she and her sordid show should not be giving these people an airing in the first place.

Don't wanna get all moralistic or nothing, but because sex in our society frequently has nothing to do with love, caring and affection any longer, this sort of thing is the result. I'm not opposed to people having one-night stands or freaky group encounters. But since sex for many young males is more about conquest and bragging rights than it is about actually liking the female participant, and since alcohol is such a common factor in young people's sexual encounters, these rape and almost-rape scenarios are going to be more and more common.


UPDATE: The initial ACA video was taken off youtube for copyright reasons. I've replaced it with a new one - it may or may not stay up.


  1. ok in defense of kyle, i actually love him on australian idol...i probably only watch the show because of his comments. me old fashioned, but how did they EVER think it was okay to hook up a 14 yr old girl to a lie-detector and ask her about sex and drugs on national radio? shes friggin FOURTEEN!!! even without the rape allegations it would still be so wrong.

    also, i have no idea wtf is up with some parents. i hope child services are really looking into this family..her mother clearly is not fit to be a proper guardian to that child. i couldnt watch the current affair video, but saying that a 12-yr old had drunk consensual sex is ludicrous

  2. Eurasian SensationAugust 20, 2009 at 10:48 PM

    Eci, you see a redeeming side to Kyle Sandilands' comments? You must have greater tolerance than I. Certainly, there are plenty of hopeless people on Idol, but calling people ugly or fat while a nationwide audience looks on is really nasty and terrible, particularly when they are teenagers. That's the kind of thing that leads to people having serious self-esteem problems.

    Media Watch a week or so ago did an expose on Kyle and Jackie O's radio show which was not flattering at all; I was stunned by their cruelty in an incident when Kyle deliberately reduced two girls to tears, for absolutely no good reason except for "drama".

  3. Australian Idol is a joke anyway that's why Kyle is a judge on it. He doesn't know anything about Music or what a makes a good performer, he's literally paid to say things that don't make sense and are humorous in effect. You can't take Kyle seriously cause his job is to B*#&@#$T about everything.

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