What’s sexual harassment and what’s fun and games?

Politically incorrect joke Image Credit Slate.com

I remember a good few years ago my dad warned me about a local character with a powerful libido. This chap liked to hide in the garden hoping to catch a glimpse, through the bedroom window, of a woman disrobing. If he did, and thought the woman suitably attractive, he’d knock on the front door and suggest a sexual liaison.

This was when my family lived overseas and before the days of political correctness. The chap in question was a well-known local who would happily take “no” for an answer and politely bugger off to try his luck elsewhere.  Apparently, he’d been doing this for years with no untoward effects on the community.

These days he’d be hanged, drawn and quartered, or dumped in prison. Dad laughed it off as a bit of harmless fun and a funny story about local customs – along with a caution to close the curtains when changing.

My point is that attitudes change. Prudishness is now the norm, which is why we get light relief from Whaleoil’s Monday night Comedy Corner jokes guaranteed to offend.

Any hint of sexual advance these days, however unlikely, must be taken as a serious assault – whether the advancer intended that or not.  Just trying his luck, my dear old dad might have said, with no harm done.

Following Mallard’s assertions of sexual impropriety in the house I couldn’t help noticing the stunned, frigid faces of female MPs who were asked for an opinion. A whiff of sexual impropriety in the house horrified them and their responses were suitably guarded. In all honesty, some quite likely indulged in consensual dalliances back in the day. These days of course, owning up to dalliances is unacceptable. Even ten years ago you could safely assume an illicit sexual liaison was consensual.

Not anymore. Men should be very afraid. Despite there being a huge distance to travel between rape and consensual sex, the mere allegation of an unwanted sexual advance can derail a good political career.

Which is why some of these female MPs who fronted the camera were not believable. Their muted response put a haze of disbelief over the authenticity of allegations not lodged with the police at the time and now impossible to substantiate one way or the other.

Which brings me to my point. If, as Mallard suggested, his investigation turned up historic rape allegations, why weren’t the police involved years ago? Is it simply because the attitude of the ‘victim’ has changed? Media are giving a heck of a lot of credence to anonymous claims. “She said” – “he said” provokes doubt, and given the current climate, lack of evidence won’t be a barrier to achieving the desired result either.

It’s an indictment these days that an allegation is all that is needed to dispose of a political opponent.

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