What Pincher did was grope someone’s bottom and testicles – that’s not harassment; that is sexual assault. Politics attracts abusive personalities because it gives them status, power, and access. So to be surprised when something like this happens is naive. If the police aren’t involved, it sends the message that MPs can get away with groping, that a quick fumble is minor slap on the wrist offence. Pincher by name Pincher by nature, as Boris Johnson quipped. Remember when it comes to sexual assault you are allowed to physically defend yourself.
I would train all House of Common staff and MP’s staff to know what sexual assault & harassment is and how to react – workshopping examples (for the sake of the workshop those reacting decide which part of their body to use.) Due to having to establish a physical boundary as a child, my reactions to sexual harassment were immediate and aggressive. Not one harasser ever complained about my having got in their face saying, “What the F… do you think you’re doing.” Because they knew what they were doing was wrong. I think getting away with it is half the kick sexual harassers get. The problem is that politics also attracts very decent hard-working people – a significant proportion of whom will be a little bit too nice, the kind of people who want to give everyone the benefit of the doubt – abusive personalities’ playground. How sexual harassers groom and harass below with what I might say, how I might react:
- The perpetrator tests the ground with sexual jokes and or discriminatory statements: That’s not acceptable.
- The perpetrator talks about someone they’ve been attracted to; this becomes more explicit the longer they are allowed to continue. There’s a name for those who pleasure themselves in public, you know!
- The perpetrator gives sexualized compliments. I’m not interested in what you think of my body.
- The perpetrator implies that keeping them happy is part of the target’s role. Sure, when you make the request in writing!
- The perpetrator points out the positive and negative effects they could have on the target’s career. My ambition is to get ahead on merit. The perpetrator will turn their charm on and off according to the target’s compliance. I’d call them out on each example of this – On what grounds are you being…?
- The perpetrator tricks the target into showing more flesh by, for example, dropping something for the target to pick up. I wouldn’t physically comply. I’ve always worn trousers at work for this reason.
- The perpetrator will increasingly encroach on the target’s personal space. Perhaps starting with hugs that are over-encroaching and or being handsy. No, I’m NOT comfortable with that and moving pushing them away.
- Perpetrators can use alcohol and or drugs to lower the target’s inhibitions. Don’t drink with people you don’t trust and or know your limits physically with alcohol. How many glasses of wine can you drink and trust yourself to get home safely?
- The perpetrator will try to get the target’s agreement to some of the perpetrator’s behaviours so they can use that to broach further boundaries and or to defend their behaviour if necessary. Know what your boundaries are physically and psychologically and how you intend to enforce them.
- The perpetrator says something quietly to the target, quiet enough so that no one else can hear. It will be sexually explicit – “I would love to rape you”– the intention is to shock; how will this target react? Would you like to say that again loud enough so everyone can hear? No? I didn’t think you would
Make up your own responses and then practice, practice, practice until they are automatic.
Remember a lot of harassers rely on embarrassment to keep their target quiet. The quickest way to stop it is to expose it as Mel B did. I bet he doesn’t ever try that again with her!
Who is and is not allowed to touch you body is entirely your decision. I’ll give you an example that wasn’t sexual harassment. A woman I didn’t like (found her arrogant) was promoted to be my manager. On the first day she entered the open planned office I worked in from behind me and decided to try to massage my neck I pulled my shoulders away and spun round and the look on my face made her take a step back. I think she was trying to bond but nevertheless she never tried that again because she knew that bottom line – my body my choice end of.
For a deconstruction of Harvey Weinstein’s behaviour (Don’t watch if you could be triggered): https://tinyurl.com/yuw2kwv4
#metooparliament #mybodmychoiceEndOf @metoopartliament