Allegations of sexual assault in Westminster are being minimised. This isn’t paranoia – here is my handsy (geddit girls?!) breakdown on how it’s happening.
- Conflate a bit of knee-touching with rape. As the daft spreadsheet circulating in the press includes affairs and “fornication” as well as consensual sex and Non Disclosure Agreements, a key part in playing down the allegations is to mislead the public into thinking sexual harassment is just boisterousness. Actually, what we have are teams of men confident that their behaviour will be tolerated and go without consequences. But by confusing consensual and non-consensual sex – concepts apparently too difficult for so many of our elected representatives to grasp – the seriousness of these allegations is undermined.
- Use the words ‘puritan’, ‘witch-hunt’ and ‘media feeding frenzy’. Any woman who does not want to be groped has no sense of humour. So they had to run out of a hotel room while the man they work for pleasured himself? They should take it in their stride. Men are the victims here. Look at all the big names accused of stuff they don’t even remember doing. The poor, persecuted slimeballs.
- Turn it into a party-political problem. Promoting family values while slobbering over women a third their age – it’s what Tories do. Actually, it’s what men do: #notallmen but #quitealotofthem. It happens in Labour, too. The abuse Laura Kuenssberg received for revealing that Bex Bailey was raped shows that many Jeremy Corbyn loyalists are nasty misogynists. The laddishness of parts of that movement has to be addressed. Yes, this government is weak and yes, Theresa May is being attacked for what she knew, but the issue is that she inherited a system in which cover-ups have been traded for loyalty. All parties must deal with it.
- Isolate a few monsters. It is easier to look at one depraved man than the environment in which they operate. But the scalps of a couple of minsters will not lance the boil. Abuse is systemic, from sexual harassment at one end to young women not being promoted unless they are compliant. How can there be equality of opportunity in such a place?
- Ringfence the places where these terrible things happen. We were focused on Hollywood, now on parliament as though it is only in these special, distant worlds that such nastiness occurs. What happens if we connect these hotbeds of abuse with everyone else’s workplaces, offices, supermarkets? What if we say this issue is not about a few sex cockroaches, it is a problem of masculinity, of socialisation, of a culture in which men feel entitled to women’s bodies, whatever those women say?
- Make sure that no one connects the predatory behaviour of some of these guys to their day jobs. In Westminster, their day jobs are pursuing policies that we know have hit women hardest. Men who don’t require consent to touch are not sensitive to our needs. I mean, who needs rape crisis centres, more midwives, decent childcare and benefits that enable wives to leave violent men? Yes, it’s us women.
- Bring in the collaborators. These are the women who did not mind being groped because they are made of nails. Get them to write idiotic pieces about how all of this is the fault of women; how they need to toughen up, these millennial snowflakes who don’t like being touched up in lifts. These mercenaries for the patriarchy will bend over backwards to defend men and to blame women for being abused. The sad thing is they are being used by the system they think they have cracked.
- Equate all this with the expenses scandal. The duck houses, the moat cleaning, the porn DVDs and the flipping of second homes resulted in MPs stepping down, and in some being sent to prison. There is a chance that, as more allegations come out, the government majority will collapse. But claiming a kitchen extension does not equate with assaulting a researcher. The collateral damage of the expenses scandal were the MPs. The collateral damage of these assaults is that victims have been silenced and held back in their careers.
- Call it a sex scandal and salivate over the tittle tattle. Make sure it’s entertainment rather than about a systematic abuse of power. Make sure it’s the morality of certain individuals in question rather than the morality of obvious inequality at the heart of government.
- Keep saying it’s a grey area. Talk about flirting and political correctness. Act as though without sexual harassment human reproduction will soon cease. Reframe abuse as trivial. It’s easily done.
Source: The Guardian