ALVES AND GORDILLO HAVE CAUSED SHOCK WAVES IN CATALONIA THEY’RE WELL-KNOWN HERE AND CLOSELY ASSOCIATED WITH EMBLEMATIC, IF VERY DIFFERENT, CATALAN INSTITUTIONS
On December 30th of last year, the Brazilian footballer Dani Alves - who has played with Barça for six seasons - was in the Sutton nightclub in Barcelona (a faux elegant establishment popular with almost-middle-aged office workers who like dressing up as top-tier executives). CCTV cameras showed Alves harassing a young woman: he pushed her hand down hard on his penis a couple of times before pulling her into the VIP lavatory. Once inside, according to the victim, whose account has always been consistent, he sat down on a toilet and forced her to sit on top of him, asking her to call herself ’his little whore’; because she tried to get away, he threw her to the floor and started hitting her, before demanding that she fellate him; when she refused, he pushed her against the toilet and raped her (she reported the events to the Catalan police just two days after the assault). Alves at first said he didn’t know her at all, then later claimed they had had consensual sex, initiated by her. These contradictory statements convinced the judge to put him on remand; he is currently stewing in a cell in Brians 2, a prison close to Martorell.
Thirty days before Alves ruined that woman’s life, a Catalan journalist called Saül Gordillo, the director of a small digital news magazine (’Principal’), started to sexually harass one of his own journalists by shoving his hand down the front of her shorts in the Apolo music venue, also in Barcelona, after the company’s Christmas dinner. While he did as he pleased with her, she froze, and remained in a state of shock until she managed to get away, which is when she had an hours-long panic attack (she is now in therapy). Not long afterwards, another of Gordillo’s women journalists accused him of sexually harassing her, this time in the course of the aforementioned dinner. Gordillo, while not as famous as Alves, has had several important journalistic jobs, ranging from writing oddly self-centred articles for various papers to running the Catalan News Agency and, notably, Catalunya Ràdio.
Alves and Gordillo have caused shock waves in Catalonia because they’re well-known here and closely associated with emblematic, if very different, Catalan institutions. But sexual abuse (including rape) is also committed by men who have never had so much as their big toe in the limelight. What is it that makes a man feel the need to satisfy his sex drive using violence? Why doesn’t he make an effort to find a consensual partner? Or go to a sex worker? Or just jerk off? In the US, clinical psychologists have been researching male abusers (rapists included) since the 1970s. When the New York Times tried to summarise all their findings in 2017, it concluded that very few generalisations could be made. For the record, here are the ones that can (aside from the obvious fact that every last mother’s son of these perpetrators is an arsehole): narcissists are more likely to abuse, especially if they have exploitable positions of power; as is a man who belongs to a peer group that has an insulting attitude towards women; as is a man who is authoritarian, especially if stressed or nervous; as is a man who drinks heavily, yet lacking in self-confidence; as is a man who doesn’t think rape is wrong (most of these eschew the R word, preferring to use the nonsensical euphemism ’non-consensual sex’, which they find perfectly acceptable). The only solution - of course - is zero tolerance for ever and a day. Starting with Mr Alves and Mr Gordillo. Now.