Emma Freedman comments on topless AFL photo. Picture: Channel 9
Emma Freedman comments on topless AFL photo. Picture: Channel 9

Sickening backlash to Nine spat

TELEVISION presenter Emma Freedman has revealed the sickening backlash to her comments on the Richmond nude photo scandal following the Tigers' AFL premiership triumph last year.

A topless photo of a woman wearing a premiership medal - found to have been taken and distributed by Richmond star Nathan Broad - found its way onto the internet in the wake of the club's grand final win over Adelaide.

Speaking about the incident as host of Channel 9's Sports Sunday program, Freedman suggested the problem could have been avoided had the woman kept her clothes on.

This put her at odds with panellist and former Wallaby Peter FitzSimons, who accused Freedman of blaming the woman for her privacy being violated.

"My opinion on it, Peter, is don't take your clothes off, to be honest," Freedman said.

"Oh, so it's her fault?" FitzSimons quizzed.

"If you're in a position where you think you might be put in a vulnerable position later on, for me, I wouldn't take my clothes off," Freedman responded.

Peter FitzSimons was a vocal critic of Freedman's view.
Peter FitzSimons was a vocal critic of Freedman's view.

FitzSimons was critical of that view, as were plenty of others, and Freedman has revealed just how disgusting the response to her controversial stance was.

"There were a couple of death threats and there were a couple of people who were so up in arms about something that was not meant to be - and is not - offensive in any possible way who wished that my unborn children would be born with a degenerative disease and things like that," Freedman told news.com.au at Fox Sports' 2018 launch of its dedicated rugby league channel Fox League.

"You know, people are horrible if they get too riled up.

"There was backlash but some people come down from a cliff and want to apologise - I have nothing to apologise for."

As Freedman said, she remains unapologetic and has no regrets after her headline-making comments.

"I stand by what I said, I have no issues with what I said and yes, my words were taken out of context and that happens in the media but it happens when people push it to happen," Freedman said.

"I stick with what I said and I've had a lot of parents come up to me and say if we don't have a conversation with our sons and our daughters about the future of social media and our online presence and smartphones and all of that kind of stuff then this will keep happening, so I stand by what I said."

Like she did then, Freedman is standing her ground.
Like she did then, Freedman is standing her ground.

Quizzed if the confrontation had made her more confident as a presenter, the 28-year-old laughed and said it actually had the opposite effect - but that doesn't mean she'll shy away from similarly tough topics in future.

"It makes you more nervous to say things because you're scared of the reaction but they're tough conversations to have," Freedman said. "We live in a world where everything is incredibly PC (politically correct).

"That is good in a way but it is also tough to have real conversations if people are going to get offended every time someone opens their mouth. The world will never get on with business."

Freedman posted a statement on Twitter soon after the nude photo furore to clarify her comments, but that clearly didn't do much to quell the anger of people who accused her of victim shaming.


"I consider myself a feminist," Freedman wrote. "But I also take into consideration, in this modern day and age, the vulnerable position of women.

"I agree the player who distributed the photo unlawfully should be held accountable. It is of course illegal to distribute a photograph without consent!

"But women (and men) are taken advantage of all the time, especially in situations involving alcohol (there's little doubt that was involved in some capacity in the taking of this photo, in the midst of celebrations).

"Consenting and choosing to take part in a photograph, such as the one that was distributed, is dangerous. I'm not saying it's wrong or bad. I'm saying it's dangerous. I would love for us to live in a world where people keep their promises and do the right thing. They often don't.

"I feel very sorry for the woman involved. It's humiliating for her. But the taking of that photograph, put her in a vulnerable position. How can we absolutely trust someone will delete a photograph? We can't. As we've seen over the last week.

"Maybe I'm overly careful and very distrusting of others, possibly to my fault. You may not agree with me, but hopefully you can understand.

"Let's hope that in the future we can all be free to engage in things like this."

Freedman has joined the Fox Sports family.
Freedman has joined the Fox Sports family.

Freedman has left the Nine network to join Fox Sports' rugby league coverage on Fox League. Originally from Melbourne, Freedman has spent the past year improving her league knowledge alongside NRL great Matty Johns on the Triple M Grill Team.

She will appear on the Matty Johns Show on Sunday nights and occasionally on Friday nights, and is excited to begin what she calls the biggest challenge of her career.

"I definitely think this is going to be my biggest challenge to date because compared to a lot of people on the network I'm relatively new to rugby league," Freedman said. "That's my challenge, I'm a student of the game, not an expert.

"My role on the Sunday night show and Friday nights as well when I do them will be a quirky news angle, it's not ball-by-ball, it's not play-by-play so this is going to be a challenge for me."

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