Sometimes change is slow, but society must understand rape is not on.
IT WAS pie night at the footy club. A full moon was bumping around in the clouds. The local team had a good year and was heading for the finals. Barbecues were blazing and the smell of steak and onions wafted in the night air. Voices were raised in song and laughter as beers were swilled.
It was mainly blokes, but there were three girls about 16 sipping sweeter drinks at the edge of the crowd.
As the night rolled on the voices grew louder until in a roar of drunkenness and much car wheel spinning the crowd began to disperse. There were five blokes remaining - and the three girls. Knobby, Stretch and Shorty invited the girls to join them by the fire while Brains and Bogger experienced the exquisite pleasure of mutual midnight micturition behind the grandstand.
Red-faced, amorous and handsome Knobby put his arm around the largest of the three girls. Sally-Anne was a country girl, shy, yet curious. She hadn't told her father where she was going; her mother was dead.
Stretch and Bogger chatted up the other two girls, Merry and Ann, and before too long they separated into couples and were enjoying an in-depth chat about virtue in the back seats of the boys' respective cars.
Some time later they heard screaming and the girls ran to where the sounds were coming from. They found Sally-Anne face down on the oval sobbing and desperately trying to pull her pants up. There was dirt on her face and blood on her legs.
The men's cars roared away, leaving the girls alone. They helped Sally-Anne get to her feet and readjust her clothing. Merry said Sally-Anne could spend the night at her house and they should call the police in the morning. The police were never called.
These events happened in 1965 in a small country town. Violence, sexual assault and booze have been a part of footy for a long time and when we read about some recent events it is easy to despair and think nothing has changed.
Despite feminism, despite many reforms of sexual assault laws, despite the work done in educating the judiciary about gender fairness, the assaults still happen.
In footy circles, girls are still considered fair game and ''team games'' are played. For example, select and seduce the fattest girl in the room (she'll be the most vulnerable), get her into the bedroom, tie her to the bed, root her (never kiss her) and then let your mates in to do the same thing.
A young nurse told me her husband is a great person to be with during the cricket season but his behaviour takes a drastic dip for the worse when he is with mates during the footy season. ''It's like being married to two different people,'' she sighed.
Is this kind of behaviour unique to footy clubs? Of course not. It happens all too often when young men, alcohol, drugs and girls are together in the mix.
When I was a student, groups of drunken males would invade the university halls of residence ''scrunter hunting'', which means looking for girls to rape. That was back in the days when gloating engineering students wrote in the university newsletter: ''We prefer our women with their mouths closed and their legs open.''
Stories of booze, drugs, violence and rape continue to titillate the tabloids and embarrass the clubs. Michael Gudinski and the Herald Sun are claiming a coup with Ben Cousins' drug tapes, which are supposed to put young people off drugs - but is this so?
Paul Dillon, the respected founder of Drug and Alcohol Research and Planning Australia, has strong doubts about whether the expose will have any beneficial influence on young people. I agree with Paul; the concern is they will see a famous, rich guy who had problems but eventually saw the light. The take-home message is likely to be: ''Well, I can drink and take drugs while I'm young and then get over it when I want to, just like Ben Cousins.''
So why didn't we report Sally-Anne's rape back in 1965? Yes, I was there, I was one of the three girls. We were afraid. Afraid of the police, afraid of our parents and afraid of the society we lived in.
Sally-Anne knew she would be branded a slut and blamed for what happened. The gossip would be, ''What was she doing there? She was asking for it, what did she expect?''
While some things have improved since 1965, others have not. James Boag billboards continue to portray young women as drunken victims ready for raping and alcoholic drinks are designed to tempt the young. However, some women who have been sexually assaulted have come forward even though they face intense media scrutiny. They are prepared to say: ''Yes, I had consensual sex with two of the players, but I didn't consent to being raped by other team members.'' Men must understand no does really mean no and rape is not on.