Cowan: Canadiens drafting Mailloux ‘reflects deep insensitivity’: expert


“The damage that’s done is very, very significant,” West Virginia University’s Dr. Walter S. DeKeseredy says. “This woman’s decimated.”

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Dr. Walter S. DeKeseredy became a huge Canadiens fan as a young boy living in Hudson.

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His family moved to Toronto when he was 8, but the now 62-year old had remained a lifelong fan of the Canadiens. That was until they selected 18-year-old defenceman Logan Mailloux with their first-round pick (31st overall) at the NHL Draft on Friday.

Mailloux released a statement last Tuesday saying he had renounced himself from this year’s draft, adding he didn’t deserve the honour or privilege of being selected after secretly photographing an 18-year-old woman engaged in a sexual act with him while in Sweden last year and sharing the picture and her identity with his SK Lejon teammates. Mailloux was charged with defamation and offensive photography and was fined about $2,100.

The Canadiens still decided to draft Mailloux with GM Marc Bergevin saying: “From the players available — just from the hockey side — he was the best pick, from the hockey side.”

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DeKeseredy is an Anna Deane Carlson Endowed Chair of Social Sciences, Professor of Sociology, and Director of the Research Center on Violence at West Virginia University. He has published 26 books and more than 100 scientific journal articles and 90 book chapters on violence against women and other social problems.

“I was deeply concerned,” DeKeseredy said during a phone interview Monday about the Canadiens’ decision to draft Mailloux. “I’m a great Montreal Canadiens fan as well as a professor, so I took this a little personally, too. … I was just so shocked at this draft pick.

“This is becoming a hot topic — needless to say — among women’s groups around North America, battered women’s organizations, sexual-assault centres, rape-crisis centres,” he added. “This example is being tied to what people in the field refer to as a rape culture in excuses for these sexually abusive men. We know that in many professional sports this is ubiquitous.”

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Mailloux was 17 when he took the photo and there are some who will say it was just a teenager making a dumb mistake and that it shouldn’t be such a big deal. The Canadiens seem to feel that way with their decision to draft him.

Dr. Walter S. DeKeseredy is an Anna Deane Carlson Endowed Chair of Social Sciences, Professor of Sociology, and Director of the Research Center on Violence at West Virginia University. He has published 26 books and more than 100 scientific journal articles and 90 book chapters on violence against women and other social problems.
Dr. Walter S. DeKeseredy is an Anna Deane Carlson Endowed Chair of Social Sciences, Professor of Sociology, and Director of the Research Center on Violence at West Virginia University. He has published 26 books and more than 100 scientific journal articles and 90 book chapters on violence against women and other social problems. Photo by Tony Phillips

“It is a big deal,” DeKeseredy said. “The damage that’s done is very, very significant. This woman’s decimated … she’s the one who’s going to pay the price. She will likely face major challenges getting jobs, she’s going to have long-term trauma. These images never disappear … they never disappear. They stay up there for life. There are people who are driven to suicide because of this. So this is very, very serious stuff.

“People like myself argue that it exists on a continuum of sexual violence, ranging from non-physical acts to physical ones like forced penetration. This is a form of digital violence. People like myself define this as violence. Psychological abuse can be far more damaging than acts of physical violence and we have a substantial body of research that supports that.

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“The sexual abuse is not about this man’s pleasure,” DeKeseredy added. “It’s about status among his peers. This is what I found in my research … I call it male peer support. Most of the men like him who do these type of things belong to peer groups. That’s why I’m worried about these hockey teams. They belong to peer groups that place a very high price on sexual conquest. Members of these peer groups feel that they’re not getting as much sex as their friends say they are and they’re more prone to engaging in behaviours like Logan engaged in. If I was to testify in court, I would be saying that him displaying this to his friends was about his status among them at her expense. That his peers did not do anything about it, nor his coach, tells you something, doesn’t it?”

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DeKeseredy said he would love to speak with Canadiens owner/president Geoff Molson to enlighten him on sexual violence.

“It reflects a deep insensitivity … I just can’t understand this,” DeKeseredy said about the decision to draft Mailloux. “The city of Montreal is still reeling from the Dec. 6, 1989 massacre (in which 14 women were murdered at the École Polytechnique). The Habs, I’ve noticed, have more female fans than most other hockey teams. Certainly they’re going to be deeply upset by this. This is indeed a slap in the face. I would also say to Geoff Molson to issue a public apology and to not sign this player. I realize young people do things in regret, but did they really have to pick this person?

“It’s very hard for me to support an organization that condones this type of violence against women,” DeKeseredy added. “I was really wrestling with this … it was very, very difficult for me and I have all kinds of Canadiens memorabilia. I subscribe to the Centre Ice package so I that I can watch the Habs here in West Virginia. How do I justify, given the line of work I do, my commitment to gender equality? How do I justify supporting this team now?”

scowan@postmedia.com

twitter.com/StuCowan1

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