Academic journal article Outskirts

'I'm Just a 17-Year-Old Girl. ... I Can't Take on the AFL': The St Kilda Schoolgirl and the Contemporary Neoliberal Subject

Academic journal article Outskirts

'I'm Just a 17-Year-Old Girl. ... I Can't Take on the AFL': The St Kilda Schoolgirl and the Contemporary Neoliberal Subject

Article excerpt

Introduction

In 2010, a young woman aged seventeen received widespread media attention after she posted photographs on social networking site Facebook of AFL (Australian Football League)1 players, two of whom were naked, with the message, 'Merry Christmas courtesy of the St Kilda schoolgirl' (Pierik np). This article investigates how the series of incidents that became known as the 'St Kilda Schoolgirl Sex Scandal', and the ensuing maelstrom that played out in the media and on social networking sites, connects to contemporary understandings of neoliberalism and postfeminism. It further demonstrates how societal anxiety heightens when a young woman does not adhere to prescribed social roles. In neoliberal society, the structural context is often disregarded in the examination of social dispositions in favour of the construction of binaries that portray young women as successful or failing, as strong or vulnerable. For the contemporary neoliberal subject, responsibility sits with the individual and success is aligned with flexibility, adaptability, and being able to recognise and exploit opportunities as they arise, whereas failure is understood to be the result of poor management of the self. Under neoliberalism, postfeminist discourse adds a gendered dimension to notions of personal responsibility for young women that is often associated with their sexuality. It is argued here that neoliberal constructions of young women's social roles inadequately reflect their experiences as they neglect the social complexities involved in young women's interactions with societal institutions. This is exemplified by Kim Duthie, the St Kilda schoolgirl who, through her resourcefulness and initiative, in many ways personified the archetypal neoliberal subject, yet who was also discursively positioned as a 'disturbed girl'. By examining the socio-sexual roles that have emerged for young women within the hegemonically masculine (Connell and Messerschmidt 833) environment of AFL through the context of the 'St Kilda Schoolgirl Sex Scandal', this article explores how subject positions are constructed for, and ascribed to, young women under neoliberalism in relation to AFL; the inadequacy of these roles in reflecting the complexity of young women's lives; and how these roles were destabilised when they were contested by a young woman.

The 'St Kilda Schoolgirl' Sex Scandal

In February 2010, two AFL players from the St Kilda Football Club visited a Melbourne school to conduct a football clinic. In May 2010 a police investigation was carried out following a sixteen year old young woman from the school telling her school principal that she had become pregnant to Sam Gilbert, one of two footballers with whom she had been involved sexually (Robinson and Warner np). There were no charges laid as a result of the investigation, which found that the contact with the footballers had occurred subsequent to the school visit and that no illegal activity had been involved. In December 2010, the young woman, then aged seventeen and later identified as Kim Duthie, posted nude and semi-nude photographs on Facebook of St Kilda footballers Nick Riewoldt, Nick Dal Santo and Zac Dawson with the message, 'Merry Christmas courtesy of the St Kilda schoolgirl'. When an interim order from the Federal Court directed that the photographs be removed from Facebook, Duthie then posted a link to the photographs on Twitter and embarked on a media and social networking campaign that included interviews across television, radio and print media. She also provided updates on social and digital media such as Twitter, Facebook, formspring, YouTube, and a blog titled, 'The small girl with the big voice' (Duthie np). In regard to her actions, Duthie declared to WHO magazine, 'I have had so many emails praising me for taking a stand for other women who have been treated like crap. All I wanted was an apology' (Martin np). Duthie initially claimed that she took the photographs herself but later said that Gilbert had emailed them to her. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.