How would you feel if it happened to your daughter?
HOW awful is all this Jimmy Savile stuff and the subsequent shock wave revelations elsewhere? And how utterly depressing that every female I've spoken to about it seems to have a story of her own about a male authority figure crossing the line.
Not just them. Me too.
As a young inexperienced woman trying to break into a man's world, a number of older men took me under their wing to show me the ropes and give me advice. Most wouldn't hurt a fly and were just being genuinely kind. But some had other ideas.
Now, you know me, I loathe knee-jerk feminists with their hair-trigger bilious reaction to words like 'manhole cover' being offensive to women (not this one, love). If there's a jar I can't open at home, rather than try to open it with a knife to prove women can do anything – and risk slicing my hand open – I'll bring it into work and hand it to the strongest man in the office, who'll open it with ease. I've always worked with men, some of my best friends are men, and I love the banter, giving as good as I get. In short, I don't scare easily. But over the years, certain older senior males have pushed this way too far and crossed the line.
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Inappropriate suggestions and comments in the workplace are bad enough – unwanted physical advances are quite another.
When your colleagues spill out of work and into the nearest boozer for a leaving do or Christmas party, everyone may be in a celebratory mood but an invisible hierarchy still applies. So when an older male authority figure stumbles over to you in a crowded pub after a few drinks and pins you against the wall in a dark corner, hands everywhere, whispering lewdly in your ear, you completely freeze not sure if you're 'allowed' to slap them round the face like you would anyone else who did that.
Then at work you confide in a colleague, only for them to shrug and say "he always does that when he's drunk – it's happened to all of us, just forget about it". Surely that's just as shocking, the weary acceptance that anyone thinks it's OK to behave like that, trying to cover it up.
I'd love to tell you that it just happened to me once with that one man but I'd be lying. And the fact that it was an open secret that these men behaved like that, but nothing was ever done to stop them, appalls me.
I've heard similar stories from so many women, and some of them resigned over it, unable to look their colleague in the face the next morning after what they did – especially after he and everyone else acted like nothing had happened.
Right now, in the wake of all this Jimmy Savile stuff, I guarantee you there are current and former office managers and company heads all over the country who know deep down that they've turned a blind eye to male authority figures overstepping the mark with younger, impressionable subordinates. Shame on you. Good luck getting to sleep at night.
And if, by the way, you think I'm making a mountain out of a molehill here, how would you feel if it happened to your daughter?