“The Pies beat the Saints and the city of Melbourne was still cloaked in black and white crepe paper when the rumour of a pack rape by celebrating footballers began to surface.”

Anna Krien’s Night Games was excerpted in the Good Weekend and last night she appeared at the Wheeler Centre speaking with Helen Garner. The topic of sportsmen and “sex, consent and power” drew a chockablock packed house; clearly it’s so hot right now. The beaming father, Peter K, was on hand to snap pictures of the crowd, and his daughter on stage.

I’m guessing some of the audience was there as I was, more interested in the two women on stage talking about the subject at hand, than the subject itself. The event (to me, need I add) was a romancing of a certain kind of long-form reportage by a female author. The flaming quill handed down to Janet Malcolm, to Helen Garner, to Anna Krien.



Garner : “One of the things I love about this book is the anxiety — a fruitful anxiety — a high anxiety — I approve of it.”

Krien: “There is a grey zone between rape and consent. The more I spoke [to people] the more it was affirmed.”

Krien had a neologism describing how men feel pressured by their peers; “I was hoping to coin a new word: dickwhipped.” Garner, hand to forehead, smiled unreceptively. At another point Krien reminded Garner how wild her 60s generation had been, “You used to take sugar cubes dipped in acid!” Garner laughed, “I had it on blotting paper.”

Krien: “Men treating women like shit, and women allowing themselves to be treated like shit. There is a glacier space between these two things.”

An older woman in the audience, identifying with Garner’s generation, made a problematic implication with the assertion that “Things were much simpler in our day.” At which Garner said, very drily, “Were they?”

Krien, on the lack of a common, or open, language between the sexes: “Should he be an interpreter of smiles?”

Krien had earlier talked about her seeming sympathy during the trial to the alleged rapist, Justin. At the end she said, “I know Justin does not want this book to come out. He’s put it behind him.” Garner responded immediately: “That gives me a kind of rage.” To which Krien responded, as if surprised, “Does it?”

That “Does it?” sort of amazes me.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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