We need to talk about shagging

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It’s been almost a month since the New York Times broke the story of Ashley Judd’s allegations against Harvey Weinstein. A month in which people have bravely stepped forward to break the silence and tell their own stories. A month of support and empowerment.

We get bored super easily though and if you’ve been paying attention you’ll have noticed that in the last few days, a touch of compassion fatigue has crept into the conversation. Weinstein, Brett Ratner, Kevin Spacey, Dustin Hoffman and now English MPs have all been implicated in these stories and while initially we were collectively horrified and sympathetic, one or two renegades have broken cover to express their concerns over the effect such a barrage with have on the national consciousness.

Edwina Currie, a woman who’s never knowingly turned down the opportunity of saying something utterly baffling has voiced her concerns about the future of the human race thusly:

“The workplace these days is where people meet, where many romances and liaisons develop. You can’t ban it for the workplace.”

“Someone making a pass at you is not necessarily a power play. It might just be that they like you, and they would like to know if you would like to have a meal with them, they would like to know if you might be open to something more.”

“It happened to me and it was very, very welcome”

If you extrapolate that line of thought to a logical conclusion, Edwina seems to be suggesting that if we continue to offer a dignified space in the conversation to people who’ve suffered directly at hands of toxic masculinity, men will be afraid to approach women and ask them on a date.

That would basically result in no more sex for anyone and the dying out of humanity, wouldn’t it? That sounds bad. It’s true that human beings are very susceptible to manipulation of our thoughts and feelings (see: Brexit) and, well… evolutionary science is a thing.

Except… this has nothing to do with fucking evolutionary science.

I can’t speak for anyone else, but I’ve never been in a relationship that began with someone making an unwanted sexual advance towards me. As a woman I accept that I’m prone towards hysteria and overreaction but even so, I’ve just done a quick run through of my dating history and I can’t recall a single instance of me saying “yes! I’d love to come round to your flat and watch a film with you. Nothing turns me on more than a man I don’t know pressing his pelvis towards me as I walk past him in a corridor, ‘accidentally’ grabbing my breast or staring at my cleavage while I’m trying to get him to sign off a document. Welcome aboard!”

I’ve been told I’m weird before. Maybe handsy is a turn on for some people and I just don’t get it.  Some people are stating for the record that their experience does not make them a ‘victim’ and they’re happy for other parties to play fast and loose with personal space and/or zips. Great.

I mean it. I genuinely hope those people and the handsy people can use this opportunity to get together and perform all the sex. But if being weird means I expect an adult male to keep his hands and other flappy bits to himself unless given express permission to grasp by the designated Boob Holder, I’m more than happy to wear the massive weirdo hat and lead the charge.

To clarify. If you are over a certain age, you might well have felt it appropriate to make cracks about our legs, cop a cheeky feel in the stationary cupboard and/or lurch towards one of us at a party after a confidence boosting fifteen pints but it wasn’t. You merely lived in a society that at best tolerated, at worst actively encouraged) these behaviours. They were never, ever appropriate and furthermore, whining about how you’re afraid there’s going to be a ‘witch hunt’ and people ‘coming out of the woodwork’ post-Weinstein is your fear of being outed as a perv in language form.

For the first time in living history, none of this is about the people who are fine with it. They will do their best to make it all about themselves and how awful it is to be a victim because that’s what they do to maintain the status quo. Our job is to ignore them, let them blow out and continue to offer space for survivors to speak out and receive the care they deserve.

But I will say this. If you’re someone prone to calling sexual assault ‘a bit of fun’, at least stand by it. Stride confidently towards the front page of the Daily Mail, arms open wide and bellow

“Yes! I put my hands in places they aren’t wanted. Because I’m a bloody bloke and that’s what we do!”

I won’t have any more respect for you but it’d make a nice change to hearing you whine on about how unfair it all is.

Man up. Isn’t that what you like to say when the going gets tough?

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