by BETTINA ARNDT – WHAT brilliant timing. Last month, Senator Lidia Thorpe’s sexual accusations in parliament captivated the media by putting sexual misconduct firmly back on the public agenda, detracting attention from Labor ministers under attack for misleading parliament.
The Australian press uniformly took Ms Thorpe’s allegations seriously, reiterating her claims of sexual assault even though her own explanation suggested she was “inappropriately touched”.
Scope creep is rife in today’s discussion of sexual misconduct, with even the most minor misconduct blown up out of all proportions.
Naturally, the media trotted out last year’s Jenkins report on harassment in parliament using the Thorpe kerfuffle as further proof of an allegedly toxic culture in this august body.
As I pointed out at the time, the Jenkins survey was an absolute joke.
Less than 25 per cent of staff chose to answer the thing, almost as many men as women reported being harassed (42 per cent of women surveyed were “victims”, 32 per cent of men), and 60 per cent of the bullying was by women.
Additionally, the survey’s definition of harassment was ridiculously broad, including staring, leering and loitering, sexual jokes and repeat invitations to go out on a date.
Is it any wonder this nonsense is having a ripple effect out in the real world?
Recently we witnessed a welcome end to a ludicrous Sydney court case after Simone Hotznagel – a reality TV star – accused former CEO Simon Reeves of allegedly stalking her.
She claimed he walked slowly past her in a fashionable Bondi hotel, “holding eye contact with her for 40 seconds”.
It turned out there was CCTV footage of the incident, which was played in court and showed him walking directly into the hotel and up a flight of stairs, right past the ground floor area where Holtznagel said she was seated.
Charges against Reeves were dropped.
So a man’s reputation was dragged through the mud by someone clearly convinced by all the nonsense being promoted about the evils of unwanted staring.
And our captured court system is forced to take this rubbish seriously – with all the huge costs in police and prosecutors’ time, court costs, etc.
There are real consequences of this blurring the boundaries of genuine sexual misconduct, with our media deliberately failing to maintain the important distinction between the very serious crime of sexual assault (already expanded to include “sexual touching”) with less serious behaviour like staring, joking, asking people on dates.
The Australian newspaper recently published an important article quoting from two recent NSW District Court judgments, which highlighted a trend of “unmeritorious” cases being brought before courts, risking miscarriages of justice.
Justice Penelope Wass criticised prosecutors for putting “incredible and dishonest allegations of sexual assault through the criminal justice system” after a jury took only 25 minutes to throw out a case involving a Queensland woman who claimed she was raped by a bloke she met at a NSW pub.
Almost everything about the allegation that could be objectively corroborated was challenged by CCTV footage, text messages and the complainant’s account to her friends and doctor.
In another case involving a complainant with borderline personality disorder and bipolar disorder who had made previous false rape allegations, Judge Gordon Lerve complained that the “glaringly improbable allegation being made by a gravely ill complainant being shepherded through the criminal justice system by police and prosecutors who are seemingly determined to ignore obvious issues of credibility and reliability”.
We are now seeing case after case, which should never have ended up in court.
These are a direct result of the dangerous indoctrination currently taking place in our culture, convincing women they are victims of sexual assault whenever they have a misadventure that doesn’t work out as planned.
All men are at risk in a society where women are taught to see men as potential predators, and the worst possible spin is put on even the most trivial sexual behaviour.
I was recently contacted by a teacher who presented a textbook case of the vulnerability of men in this increasingly hostile climate.
The man teaches in a private Christian school and described asking a female staff member if she would accompany him to the staff social club Christmas party.
“She was initially quite enthusiastic but later declined. I let the matter rest and moved on,” he wrote.
Or so he thought.
But then came a most unwelcome surprise: “On the day of the party, I was summoned into the office of a supervisor who informed me in no uncertain terms that I was not to ever ask any fellow member of staff out on a date. If I did so, I would be investigated, and if I was found to have breached sexual harassment guidelines, then disciplinary action would ensue!” he told me.
The teacher described how shocked and perplexed he was by this “heavy-handed response”. The supervisor presented him with a copy of the school’s sexual harassment policies which he examined and found nothing that remotely applied to his case.
He then met with the HR manager, who took the school’s side. “She did not seem at all interested in my side of the story,” he said.
The teacher explained that dealings with the lady in question were always cordial and respectful.
“The woman did not lodge any complaint against me and is probably oblivious to the ensuing issues. My guess is that she innocently told a work colleague who then passed the information on to the principal,” he wrote.
“So there is no complaint or breach lodged against me. However, I’m apparently not allowed to risk offending a lady by asking her out! I pointed out to the HR manager that I could, therefore, never find out if a woman would, in fact, act in a receptive manner because I couldn’t risk offending her.”
This rare man wasn’t prepared to put up with this nonsense. He took the matter to the school’s governing body, telling them he was seeking legal advice.
This promptly led to a discussion with the principal – “a very constructive conversation where an apology was given and the matter was resolved to my satisfaction. The principal had been unaware of the event taking place, and I believe the HR team were reprimanded appropriately”.
Yes! That’s exactly what we need. What the teacher described as “a win for common sense” would never have happened if he had not pressed his case.
“I believe we all have to show a little ‘grit’ when life’s events require,” he wrote, advice we’d all do well to follow.PC