Frankly, I have been shocked by the appalling revelations of sexual harassment that have come out in the last few months, the grossest examples of which have been in parts of the entertainment industry, like politics. Gardening gurus, opera conductors, actors, directors, footballers, Fairfax editors, British cabinet ministers and lord mayors have now been flushed out from the fetid jungle where they preyed on their innocent victims. And the only decent and inspiring part of this shocking saga is that these vile predators have now been exposed by their courageous victims who have come forward and told their stories of harassment, bullying — and worse. It is only their courage and bravery that has enabled others to follow their example and tell their own sad stories. I know what they have been through, because I was part of that rotten culture 40 years ago and have had to live with my own dark secret ever since. I too was a part of the same cesspool that allowed weeds to grow in the swamp of infamy and although I could and should have spoken up, I let it go by. In fact, my silence allowed it to continue and I was partly to blame for the injury done to so many others. But now, I have been inspired by the example of others to come forward and tell my story in the hope that I can atone for my shameful silence and make a small contribution to stamping out sexual harassment. For I too, like so many others, was subjected to sexual harassment and bullying by a predatory woman who took advantage of my youth and innocence. I too have a message and it is to call on all men to rise like one man and take a united stand against rampant sexual harassment by women who try to ensnare them, dominate and humiliate them and then destroy their lives. And this is a true story; only the names have been changed to protect the guilty.
It all started when I was a young and reasonably good looking, but hopelessly naïve and vulnerable member of parliament in my first term. As part of my heavy electoral load I moved among all sections of society, even the local branch of the Labor party. Thus it was that I got to know a young couple, a man and woman who were actually married, to each other. I know it sounds odd, but that is what men and women did in those innocent, far-off days, although we have now moved on to a more enlightened view of marriage. The husband, Tarquin, was a typical member of the Labor party, a community relations stakeholder consultant with the ABC. The money came from the wife, and Rebecca certainly had it in spades, being a takeovers expert with a leading merchant bank. I got to know them well enough to make little quips to Rebecca that she made so much money she gave socialism a good name. But for a girl, she was quick off the mark and usually came back with some droll riposte like ‘socialists have as much right to be millionaires as capitalists’. My seduction started with Rebecca’s seemingly innocent badinage, in the same way that I now know is the case with all such moves by devious women, which is most of them. At first it was the slightest of innuendos, but manipulative women are like that. Was there, I wondered, a more sinister reason for the gossamer touch of our hands at the church fete when we reached for the same lamington? Was I reading too much into her quip ‘Where do you like to put your preferences?’And, again, she would say bohemian things, quite uncalled for, like: ‘How is the honourable member, sitting or standing?’, or ‘I forget, are you a lower or upper house man?’ Talk about ridiculing and manipulating a man! It was obvious she wanted only one thing.
Naturally, I kept as far away from her as possible. But then she struck like a viper, when I was least expecting it, as they always do. One night when I was sound asleep, the telephone rang. To my horror, it was Rebecca. My first reaction was to say ‘Where is Tarquin?’ ‘In bed asleep.’ ‘What do you want?’, I asked. ‘I want to come over and keep you company.’ I was, of course, appalled. It was blatant sexual harassment. I slammed down the receiver, but was so distraught that I spent the rest of the night trying to put myself to sleep reading Bob Menzies’ Forgotten People. She had destroyed my dream that one day I might become an Assistant Minister.From that day onwards , I kept hidden away the dark secret that I had been defiled in this way and the even greater shame that, although I saw the damage being done to so many innocent men by vengeful women, I remained silent. But now I know I was not alone.
It is such a relief to come clean after 40 years. Now it is action time. Men must unite to stop predatory women in their tracks. Some of us have formed a group with the hashtag Me, Too! and a website, Male Lives Matter! We are on the verge of destroying those ghastly statues of Florence Nightingale, a vicious reminder of female hegemony and mother dominance. Our minimum demands are compulsory university courses on Male Studies, men’s safe houses, quotas for male Fairfax columnists, men’s pay at the ABC to be at least half of Leigh Sales’, and a Department of Men with a male minister. But our proudest victory will be when we have an ‘M’ put at the end of what will then be LGBTIM, a true home for all oppressed minorities.
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