And I don’t mean me.
How’s this for a loaded headline on the front page of the Sydney Morning Herald today: Employers brace for wave of copycat sex claims.
I guess ‘She made it up to get money and now other women will make it up to get money too’ was too long.
Keep in mind that Mark McInnes admitted he behaved inappropriately when he resigned, and only disagreed with a couple of minor things in the sexual harassment case, so Kristy Fraser-Kirk clearly didn’t make it up.
Some of the letters of demand also appear to mirror the legal strategy pursued by Ms Fraser-Kirk’s lawyers – claiming multiple breaches, including breach of contract, discrimination, and breaches of the Fair Work Act.
Oh, please. That’s like saying a defamation case is a copycat action because someone else has previously sued for defamation.
It is impossible to say whether these are cynical ”copycat” claims or a sign there are many women who have shared Ms Fraser-Kirk’s experience.
Impossible to say, but that hasn’t stopped Paul Bibby and Eli Greenblat (two blokes, by the way, but I’ll get to that in a minute) from saying it. It also clearly shows that they didn’t even bother to do any research for this story. A quick Google search reveals there were 75 sexual harassment cases in 2009/10, but that only 16 per cent of people who are sexually harassed brought any form of action (from a story in their own newspaper, by the way). They could also have done some basic journalism and gone to the Australian Human Rights Commission website for a factsheet on sexual harassment. The first line of this factsheet reads:
Despite 24 years of legislation, sexual harassment is still alive and well in our workplaces.
There’s also this from a national survey in 2008:
Around one in three women in Australia aged 18-64 have experienced sexual harassment in their lifetime. The majority of sexual harassment continues to be experienced in the workplace (65%).
But no, apparently it’s impossible to say that women are sexually harassed at work.
It seems the quote from Jennifer Neilsen, law at Southern Cross University, has gone over their heads:
”This was a very powerful and influential person whose position was terminated because of his behaviour – that’s a strong message,” Dr Neilsen said.
”My only concern is when people start blaming the victim – turning their attention from the inappropriate behaviour of Mr McInnes to the question of how Ms Fraser-Kirk made her claim. It takes a very brave woman to step forward … but if you have the media attacking her for that decision other women will view the process with fear.”
Yet if no other women launch high profile sexual harassment cases, the view will be that sexual harassment at work clearly does not happen. Because somehow this one woman is supposed to represent all women, in a way that never happens to high profile cases involving men. Paul Hogan’s tax case didn’t make everyone declare that all Australian celebrities who live overseas have unpaid tax bills. All male actors haven’t been tarred with the Matthew Newton brush.
In some of the newsrooms I’ve worked, there’s been bra snapping, arse grabbing, male colleagues who stare at your boobs all day, male colleagues who only talk to your boobs, rating the hotness and fuckability of female colleagues, women told what they can and cannot wear because men might be distracted by a knee, men pulling their female colleagues onto their laps (who said Mad Men was set in the past?), and I’ve been called a fucking slut because I didn’t clean up the kitchen after everyone dumped their dirty plates after lunch. And I’m not talking about things that happened 20 years ago – I’ve been a journo for less than 10 years. With this sort of harassment going on in their own workplaces, it’s pretty easy to see why the reporting of sexual harassment cases is clueless, and always attacks the women.