Briggs, Pearce and power

29 Jan


I know there are differences between the Jamie Briggs’ scandal and the Australia Day shenanigans of footballer and Roosters’ vice-captain Mitchell Pearce: there was no dog involved in the politician’s folly, for example.

Apart from that, both men have attributed their ill-advised sexual advances on women (and a dog, in Pearce’s case) to an excess of alcohol, and both have admitted prior knowledge of the negative effects of that substance on their behaviour.

The other common denominator in both cases is power. As an elite footballer, Pearce enjoys the kind of power most of us will never experience. As a government minister, Briggs also enjoyed a level of power over others that most of us will never experience. Unfortunately, both men seem to have a corresponding lack of governance over themselves.

In Plato’s Republic, Socrates takes issue with the man who “although he is incapable of governing himself undertakes  to govern others,” and argues that self-governance should be a pre-condition for the governance of others. This recommendation makes complete sense to me: If you can’t control yourself, what business have you exercising control of any kind over another?

In both cases, the men sought to exercise their power through sex. In Pearce’s case, when the woman refused him he actually said he’d fuck her dog, he didn’t care, which rather sounds as if a) he believes he’s got a right to stick his penis in anything with a pulse, and b) for Pearce, there’s not a lot of difference between sex with a woman and sex with a dog.

Neither woman sought sexual contact with either man, and both women experienced the advances as unwanted and upsetting.

I guess alcohol doesn’t help when it comes to reading signals, and I’m reasonably certain the dog didn’t send out an invitation anyway.

This situation, of men drunk and sober advancing on women who have not the slightest desire to be advanced upon, occurs probably every minute of the day somewhere in the world, with a continuum of consequences for both parties involved. It’s my opinion that such advances are always about power, before they are about sexual desire. The very acting upon desire for a woman who has demonstrated none for you is an exercise of power, of entitlement, and the unexamined assumptions that because you fancy her she has to fancy you, or that it doesn’t matter if she doesn’t you’ll have her anyway because you want to and, if you have enough power over her, because you can.

Given Socrate’s prescription that self-governance is a prerequisite for the governance of others, it’s entirely appropriate that men in positions of power such as Briggs and Pearce are stripped of those positions when they are unable to control their sexual impulses. I’ve read many arguments about the hard time Pearce was enduring, and the demands on elite sportsmen. Jamie Briggs’ wife Estee defended his behaviour, claiming Prime Minister Turnbull had over-reacted, and her husband flies a lot, which he doesn’t find easy.

Honestly. Women aren’t stress relievers for powerful men who aren’t coping with their lives. Sex can be, but only with people who want to have it with you. Leave the dogs alone.

PS: Nobody can know how hard it has been to leave Chris Kenny out of this post.






18 Responses to “Briggs, Pearce and power”

  1. samjandwich January 30, 2016 at 1:17 am #

    I do like your precise and dareIsayit dispassionate dissection of these silly mens’ antics Jennifer. Power being a big responsibility and all, it’s the misuse of it that causes problems, rather than the state of being powerful. Invariably the most impressive people I’ve come across have been those who have used their power wisely.

    I am interested in binaries though, and as I probably keep saying I think insecurity is often the ultimate driver for bad behaviour.

    Yep I’ll admit I’m the classic example of a formally good student gone to seed, but would Socrates have pointed out that a mismatch btw power and insecurity was a recipe for disaster? I’m still struggling to agree that there’s a relationship btw (my stupid internet’s still down so I’m attempting to minimise keystrokes on my dumb phone) power and domestic violence for example…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jennifer Wilson January 30, 2016 at 6:50 am #

      Yes, I see where you’re going with this Sam.
      Off the top of my head (which bit is the only bit available to me at this minute) I’d hazard that violence and harassment are the default expressions of crude power for the insecure, when that insecurity is aroused by events.
      Anger can be experienced as powerful, and sometimes is, but when it crosses the line into violence for mine it’s saying the individual has lost control and therefore is no longer Empowered, but chaotically insecure. I think Foucault would call this phase tyranny, domination, but not power.
      Plato was without our current psychological vocabulary & he didn’t have the DSMV either so terms such as we’re using are largely absent from the Socratic dialogue. But I think when Socrates opines that he who can’t govern himself shouldn’t govern others he’s saying the same thing.

      I’m still in the mountains. I’m writing a book as well. So I’m in an altered state. Hope you are well

      Liked by 1 person

      • Deni Sevenoaks January 30, 2016 at 3:30 pm #

        I’d like to suggest that while the person may have felt socially inept and powerless, he/they, revert to the age old ‘coping mechanism’ of ‘power over..’, used by the insecure and inept drunkards in this case. “Women aren’t stress-relievers for powerful men who aren’t coping….”

        Liked by 1 person

        • Jennifer Wilson January 30, 2016 at 5:15 pm #

          Yes. Fighting for power over to give them a false sense of control


  2. doug quixote January 30, 2016 at 8:12 am #

    It never ceases to amaze me that people expect footballers to exhibit good behaviour. it is a miracle that they don’t still roam in packs ravaging pillaging and slaughtering anything so unfortunate as to be in their path.

    They clearly need the sublimation of their energies in a weekly football game to even be taken for human.

    Or is that too harsh??

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jennifer Wilson January 30, 2016 at 8:26 am #

      Well, no, but what’s the difference between them and marauding politicians?

      Liked by 1 person

      • doug quixote January 30, 2016 at 5:22 pm #

        Now that’s a good question.

        When marauding footballers get too old for football, they become marauding politicians.


        Liked by 1 person

  3. townsvilleblog January 30, 2016 at 8:48 pm #

    Pearce simply can’t hold his piss, neither can I which is why I don’t drink.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Forrest Gumpp (@ForrestGumpp) January 31, 2016 at 4:07 pm #

    Just embedding this here for the record and to ensure future accessibility. It is not meant as a provocation, nor even a tangent, although it touches upon power and cultures of abuse. I may have an unusual perspective on the line Miranda seems to be pushing in the link.


    • Forrest Gumpp (@ForrestGumpp) February 2, 2016 at 11:27 am #

      I hadn’t intended to expand upon this comment this soon, but as Jennifer has linked to another Miranda Devine column in the blog ‘Family violence and the middle class’ it now appears opportune to do so.

      Devine’s attack upon Australian of the Year former Chief of Army Lt-Gen David Morrison needs to be considered in the context of the largely favourable reception, particularly in the US, of his historic address to Australian Army members concerning respect for women. It is particularly so in the circumstance of it being acknowledged that that address was written for Morrison by transgender officer Cate McGregor.

      I suspect the reception accorded Morrison’s address constitutes more than a slight embarrassment to the prevailing US national security culture of abusiveness and double standards in respect to whistleblowers in general and Chelsea Manning in particular. Here they have the Chief of Army of a respected long-term ally castigating a culture of abusiveness and disrespect in a speech written by a transgender officer against the background of their own high command having conducted perhaps the most notorious kangaroo court martial of all time of a transgender Private First Class without even the pretense of an official transcript of proceedings!

      Adding to this embarrassment is their knowledge of the historic background of the Australian Parliament’s reaction, very shortly after Federation, of refusing to countenance the death penalty for Australian defence personnel following the executions of Morant and Hancock in what was essentially a scapegoating exercise.

      In the light of this, I ask: Are Miranda’s pieces the result of editorial direction from the very top designed to reduce Morrison’s credibility?

      As a footnote, I mention that at the time of the ADFA skype scandal becoming public it happened that I was attending a gathering of former national servicemen. Such happens from time to time. The general reaction was an expression of wonderment that there had not been almost instantaneous ‘march outs’ of all found to be involved in that very low act. General Morrison is not off-side in this matter. He was exercising leadership as to a proper organisational cultural tone.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jennifer Wilson February 2, 2016 at 5:16 pm #

        I think after what we saw with Rebekah Woods & the News of the World phone hacking scandal, anything is possible in the Murdoch empire. Woods is back at work I think I read the other day, or did she never really leave.
        It seems likely to me that there will be/are already attempts to discredit Morrison, as his views will be seen by many as undermining patriarchal culture and authority. Given Devine’s consistent attitude towards violence against women, she’s in an ideal position to white ant Morrison, and no doubt Murdoch would support such action. If she’s directed to do this I don’t know, but if not it is indeed a happy marriage of minds between her and her employer.


  5. The Nurdler February 3, 2016 at 8:02 am #

    Can you enlighten me/us as to why there is a reference to Chris Kenny?


    • Jennifer Wilson February 3, 2016 at 11:45 am #

      Some time ago, Kenny took defamation action against the ABC and The Chaser for a skit in which he was depicted as sexually harassing a dog.

      Liked by 1 person

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