It was twenty years ago and I was working a night shift as a television producer for a popular morning current affairs program.
I was alone in my office calling America to lock in interviews and satellite connections when a very drunk news producer I knew well and liked stumbled into my office.
He had a beer in one hand and his crotch in the other, fondling himself while he proceeded to tell me in graphic detail what he’d like to do to me.
The producer was too drunk to be dangerous and way too drunk to even begin to make good on his promises as to how he was going to make me feel. So, I did what any grown up would do when being annoyed by a drunken idiot, I barked at him to behave then ignored him.
By the time I left at 3am the producer was slumped asleep on the floor in the corner, beer in one hand, the other still down his pants.
Was this experience sexual harassment? Yep. Unwanted advances? Most definitely. Offensive? Absolutely. Annoying? Without a doubt. Worth $37million? Oh puhlease!
In my experience, men who think they’re God’s gift to women and who resort to inappropriate sexual advances to get your knickers off, are either not very bright or have had one too many. Hosing them down with a withering look and a very firm no usually works a treat.
My attitude once provoked an argument with a girlfriend who told me the reason I didn’t have an issue with sexual harassment was because I had the “personality” to deal with it. Where I’d respond with an off-the-cuff caustic comment to a man making a jerk of himself, others would blush, stammer and fidget, not knowing what to say. And that’s very true.
But isn’t this why we have to teach our daughters from a very young age that rather than locking lawyers into speed dial, it is more vital to learn how to handle themselves on the spot?
Let’s face it, wherever they go – a party, work or travelling – they are going to encounter unwanted attention from some men.
Throughout my career as a journalist, and for several years when I was working in holiday resorts around the world, I was forced to tap into my own resources to deal with unwanted advances.
There was the oversexed Mexican fisherman who considered himself very attractive bait, the Moroccan men with no idea of boundaries, the English men who knew instinctively all Aussie girls were “up for it” and the Chinese millionaire who badgered me for months to accept his offer to be set up for life in exchange for some “velly nice sex”.
For years I’ve listened to the tween gripe about her on again off again best friends, or the annoying boys firing spitballs at her, but I always thought it best to teach her how to deal with these dramas rather than march up to the school and take them on myself.
Either David Jones employee Kristy Fraser-Kirk missed out on these life lessons, or it was the lure of making a quick quid which sent her running to the law.
Yes, McInness was the CEO and Fraser-Kirk a junior publicist, but if she was savvy enough to gun for the big bucks instead of accepting his resignation and apologies as contrition enough, I doubt it was her inability to handle herself which forced her to pursue $37million.
It’s reported she received only $850,000, none of which will be donated to charity as promised.
Well honey – is it okay if I call you honey?- pocket your cash and use it wisely. Learn some life lessons and how to play more sensibly in the playground. The payout will be priceless.
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