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And so say all of us. Me too!

By Bob Ryan - posted Friday, 12 January 2018


As I see it, we have all been put on notice to observe a number of rules, only one of which is specified. Do not touch anyone who objects to being touched. That seems fair enough. However, I see no great problem with the proposition that when a person says ‘no’ to sex, one shouldn’t try again—even persistently.

Meanwhile, we men have found a new champion: a woman.

This is from Le Monde. In an open letter: “French actress Catherine Deneuve has said that men should be ‘free to hit on’ women. She is one of 100 French women who wrote an open letter, warning about a new “puritanism” sparked by recent sexual harassment scandals.

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“Men have been punished summarily, forced out of their jobs when all they did was touch someone's knee or try to steal a kiss,” the letter said.

“Rape is a crime, but trying to seduce someone, even persistently or clumsily, is not.”

The authors (100 women) argued that there was a new “puritanism” afoot in the world. “As women we do not recognise ourselves in this feminism, which beyond denouncing the abuse of power, takes on a hatred of men and of sexuality.”

None of my agreement with what the French women say, is to condone improper activity. And I have good reason to denounce the abuse of power. So now let me add some of my own #MeToo.

When I was a not-quite-15 lad working at my first job I was literally blackballed by a group of women. It was an initiation ceremony during which the newcomer was entrapped into visiting a particular part of the factory where he was overwhelmed by six or seven women. The victim was then shackled, wrists and ankles, before being disrobed where it mattered. Then, having shaved the lad’s pubic hair, the women anointed his genitals with the contents of a pot of black (graphite) grease. It must be said for the women that they thoughtfully wrapped the entire area in some cleaning rags before rearranging my clothing.

From what I’ve been hearing about the current crop of persistent and unwanted sexual advances, complaining to the authorities has had no beneficial effects for the victims. That’s how it was in my time, too.

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My case raises the question of how far back we should go in “naming and shaming”. Perhaps the women in black might take that question on board. Should a line in time be drawn somewhere. If not, do we include the Rape of the Sabine Women? I’m not being facetious here. I’m inviting a general consensus on how far back in time accusations of sexual misconduct should be reportable. It’s a fair question.

Finally, I believe it is incumbent upon women, generally, to stipulate what is acceptable behaviour and what is not. Otherwise we men will be groping our way through the new “puritanism” in the dark.

And so say all honourable men. Me too.

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About the Author

Bob Ryan is a PhD candidate at Macquarie University; his thesis is on Censorship.

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