What precisely was going through the mind of Spain’s football federation president, Luis Rubiales as he planted a kiss on the lips of World Cup-winning player, Jenni Hermoso, can only be imagined. What is beyond any doubt is that the moment, broadcast live around the world as the victorious team celebrated, has impacted Spanish society and global debate more than any other football match ever. Rubiales claimed the act was consensual, Hermoso says it was not. With Rubiales’ hands clamped to either side of Hermoso’s head as he pulled her towards him, the kiss certainly didn’t appear like a mutual sharing of joy. It looked shockingly and depressingly like a man, yet again, taking away any decision-making option from a woman as he moved in for an act of uninvited intimacy. Rubiales was eventually forced to resign, but the ramifications of the incident rumble on. And not everyone is on the side of Hermosa and her supporters, who include teammates, fellow professionals, both women and men, within the game and beyond. Others perpetuate the attitude of: “It was just a kiss, let’s move on.” But around the world, most, if not all, agree that the incident, though relatively fleeting, was far more than just a kiss. This, they say, was a blatant act of male entitlement, which is also at the centre of the disturbing allegations made against comedian, actor and anti-establishment figure Russell Brand.
A combined investigation by The Times, The Sunday Times and the Channel 4 Dispatches programme resulted in four women accusing Brand of serious sexual offences, including one act of rape. Brand “absolutely refutes” all the allegations. He admits that in the past he has been “very, very promiscuous” but says that all his relationships were “absolutely always consensual”. He has, though, been captured on screen on multiple occasions behaving at the very least inappropriately, including an incident when he grabbed Australian TV presenter, Liz Hayes, and kissed her on the lips. When she went to turn away, he held on and tried to kiss her again. It was meant to be funny; few are laughing now.