Tag:

sex

Where does sexual innuendo between men and women at work cross the line?

Just felt the need today to blog about the whole discussion over sexual harassment in the light of the latest debate surrounding a particular politician.

I’ve faced up to sexual harassment – but did I do it the right way or not?

I listened to a discussion on a weekly political show, on a weekend discussion programme where the issue was discussed in some detail. It’s a mixture of women, men, power, control and sexual desire. A variation on the whole theme of the ‘casting couch’, ‘men in power’ etc etc.

It made me reflect on more than 20 years working in various areas of the media and the times I’d encountered such practices. Which have been few, I should hasten to add. There is  no part of the media where I’ve thought ‘can’t work there too many men with wandering hands’.

However there have been a small number of occasions where the behaviour of some men, and women, have surprised me. I won’t say shocked as it takes a lot to shock me.

Please bear in mind, I’m not talking about inappropriate flings or relationships here – I’m talking about moments or revelations which happen and which completely blindside you.

I should set a context – I’m a naturally tactile person, many journalists are, I’ve noticed. I will often touch someone while talking to them, it’s part of my natural body language I suppose. I can be flirtatious but I have a line which cannot be crossed. That is where healthy contact and banter becomes something overtly sexual, makes me feel uncomfortable or seedy. But I’m good at making it clear when that line has been crossed.

I can think of several occasions both professionally and personally where my outgoing personality has led others to think I’m romantically interested in them. I have had to have several difficult conversations about the feelings not being returned, reminders about the fact that I’m married and I take that seriously, and, in some cases, friendships and connections have remained intact. I had these conversations when I was single and when married.

Occasionally however, none of the above apply and here are three incidents I’d like to share.

One: 

 

What do you do when, as a very young green journalist, an older journalist who is always friendly suddenly thinks it’s okay to touch you inappropriately? In this case, it was a man in his 50s, probably, who thought it was okay to stroke the back of my neck. Not abusive but creepy to me.

When it happened the first time, I let it go. The next time, I told him not to touch me again. I have no memory of his response. I think he beat a hasty retreat.

I did tell my boss at the time but I was postively encouraged to take it no further. After all, nothing had really happened. I was told that the person would be ‘told’ about it. Must’ve worked, it didn’t happen again. I just hope it didn’t happen to anyone else.

 

Two:

 

Another time was personal. A man known to me, retired and someone I saw relatively often, pinned me against a doorframe in his house and tried to snog me. A whole tongue down the throat affair while his wife was in another room. I was a teenager.

It was completely vile and even now, I can recall the feeling of disgust.

Again I told the man, who was in a senior position within his community, to ‘never touch me again or I’ll tell your wife’. Seemed to work.

But I’ve always wondered if he ever did it to anyone else….I also spoke up about it at home but I think it took a long time for my parents to believe it had happened. I know for sure, that my natural revulsion and pushing him away, may have stopped things being much worse.

 

Three:

 

The other incident I recall was far more recent – within the last five years. I was working alongside someone I’d known for a long time but had not worked directly with and we were in a small room together, we had to be for the job we were doing at the time.

A discussion was taking place which had got around to families and relationships. Nothing unusual in that. Then he asked me a question which really threw me – he asked ‘if I liked three-in-a-bed relationships?’

I looked at him and I think my reply was something bland like ‘I’m a one-man woman me’ and tried to forget it.

The context didn’t set up a question like that and I immediately knew this could all go horribly wrong. I also felt I didn’t want to work with him again straightaway. I did, however, finish that task and nothing happened. I never worked with him again.

I didn’t ever complain about this inappropriate moment. But I find myself asking the same question yet again  – did it happen to anyone else and was it even worse?

 

My conclusion is that most women will have experiences like these both privately and personally. I feel I dealt with them to the best of my ability at the time. I have no idea if I was right or wrong. I can only say that I trusted my judgment of how it made me feel and acted accordingly.

 

Have you forgotten Meredith? It’s all about Miss Knox.

Let's not forget Meredith....

Social media world is buzzing tonight with the freeing of Amanda Knox, as an Italian appeal court quashes her conviction for killing Meredith Kercher, from London.

 

It’s interesting as a UK resident to see the American reaction to this result – it seems many, many people always believed Amanda Knox to be innocent.

 

Even Oprah Winfrey apparently did a programme

involving Miss Knox’s parents.

 

In fact, the reaction suggests that Miss Knox will almost be welcomed home as a hero. All in keeping with the impression I have of this lady, an outgoing, all-American girl, confident and, to me it seems, a bit in-your-face.

I wasn’t there to hear the case in its entirety and as my Italian allows me to ask for an ice-cream and that’s all – well, it wouldn’t have made much difference any way.

 

But on seeing this reaction, I just keep thinking what about Meredith Kercher and her family?

 

What must they be feeling now? Does any one care about them? Will we ever truly know what happened to poor Meredith?

This family has kept themselves very private during this latest twist in a tale of murder and sex.

And while, it’s right that any miscarriage of justice is revealed, what about the victims in all of this?

We must not forget that at the centre, there is a family whose child was murdered in horrible circumstances and there is, to me, something grating about celebrating an all-round awful situation.

A man is serving a sentence for his involvement in the killing of Meredith. But this appeal case does raise so many questions about what happened to her.

 

I feel so uneasy about all of this. I don’t want innocent people to spend time in prison but let’s not forget that a young woman died here and her family don’t have the answers.

 

So as I see the buzz and watch the media reports, my heart goes out to the Kercher family – because for them, nothing has changed. Meredith has gone and they have to deal with that day in, day out. Tomorrow won’t bring a day of freedom for them.

Hotel maid apparently not able to take on powerful money man

You all know the case in America to which I am referring.
A hotel maid claims that she is sexually assaulted by a high ranking person in the world of international finance.
He denies forcing himself on her, she claims a crime was committed against her. Her word against his. His word against hers – just who to believe?
The case has been dropped by the prosecution based upon the victim’s credibility – she changed her story about her movements after the alleged assault. She lied on an asylum form. The case is likely to be dropped. Probably unable to prove a crime happened, beyond any reasonable doubt.

Clearly we don’t know the details, but are these two things so great that this woman’s account doesn’t deserve to be examined in court?

What about this man’s past would make him completely reliable or otherwise?
Hardly a case which encourages women, or men, to come forward with claims of rape or sexual assault.
Doesn’t it feel like the victim’s past has been rifled through to see what can be found to discredit her and we don’t know exactly what those things are!

 

Is this a woman who has dollar signs in her eyes? Did she realise who this man was and think – this is my opportunity for a cash windfall? Possibly.
Our record of dealing with sexual assault and rapes in the courts is not great in the UK – a tiny percentage actually make it to the end of the road. Guilty or not guilty.
This is one case where you can see why a woman might think twice? Don’t you think?

 

Some stranger assaults me in the street and I have to hand over my medical records, reveal my sexual history, lay out my private life for all the world to see. Tell the world things I would rather forget or which happened years ago.
And if the case is deemed to be unsuitable, people can find out why ie. my dubious past – but the alleged defendant walks away with no stain on their character.
Rape and sexual assault should not be a question of what’s the chance of success? – evidence should be examined in an open and transparent fashion. The end result might be a conviction or not, the end result might be that a woman or victim is found to be lying.

Reporting a rape or sexual assault can be a ‘pig’ of an ordeal….

Victims of assault often just want one thing – they want their day in court, they want the best chance of justice.

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