Flat White

Woke@work – and joyless, mistrustful, dispiriting and dreary

12 April 2021

6:06 PM

12 April 2021

6:06 PM

Just as I was celebrating the fact that in ditching Turnbull from the ridiculous New South Wales climate job the Liberals had finally shown some common sense, the very next day the Morrison government capitulated in the most craven fashion to the worst and wokest instincts of the left. This was the new set of workplace rules regarding sexual harassment under the trite glib label of respect@work.

Now, don’t get me wrong. All sexual harassment or assault is abhorrent. And where it involves a crime, it deserves and demands the full force of the law be applied. CEOs and managers and HR personnel in companies are absolutely right to keep an eye on workplace culture and ensure any form of sexual misconduct is swiftly addressed. But to suddenly empower activist bodies like Our Watch, to police our language, to make it possible for people to lose their jobs and livelihood over an unproven accusation of wrongdoing or even for a misunderstood joke or physical action is wrong and to smear workplaces and men across the nation, as Scott Morrison did, is completely unacceptable. 

I have worked in large offices in Australia with large workforces and the idea that they are hotbeds of rampant sexual misconduct may be true of the offices of parliamentary ministers after hours but it is not an accurate depiction of the vast majority of businesses and workplaces in this country. This is inner-city left-wing virtue-signalling social engineering and will have seriously detrimental impacts upon innocent individuals lives. 

Worse, what are we teaching our young men? Four-year-olds are being taught they are racists, then in secondary school they are told they can be girls if they’d prefer, then they get to high school and they are forced to publicly apologise for being sexist misogynists to all the girls, then they get to university and they are told they are responsible for a campus rape crisis — which never seems to result in any arrests — and now when they get into the workforce any woman for whatever reason can have them fired simply for suggesting they looked at them in the wrong way or said something entirely innocent like “so-and-so throws like girl”.  The Prime Minister is forever banging on about how aware and compassionate he now is because he has two young daughters. What a shame he doesn’t have two young sons as well. 


I met my future wife when we worked in the same large office. Our courtship took place over several months and involved bawdy jokes, suggestive questions, flirtatious propositions, sneaky glances and invasions of personal space, and that was just HER. Don’t even start on ME. Put bluntly, in Scott Morrison’s and Michaela Cash’s world we would never have got together, and I know at least a dozen other couples who would vouch the same. Sure, some office romances didn’t work out, some affairs led to divorce or disappointment. But equally many have led to long stable relationships with wonderful marriages and wonderful offspring. That’s human nature. But the idea that human sexuality and physical attraction in the workplace is somehow shameful and automatically leads to rape or unwelcome harassment is absurd. We are hurtling back to the repressive 1950s, when the sexes did not mingle, when shame and gossip and furtive, fearful glances were the norm, or to some Stasi-like world of gossip, paranoia and suspicion. And if you believe there aren’t ambitious or manipulative or vindictive women who won’t misuse these new powers, you’re a fool. Worse, young men will simply shun females in the workplace. Women who are self-assured, beautiful, witty, extroverted, articulate and fun will become lepers. Men will ignore them to the point of rudeness, terrified that even chatting to them could jeopardise their career. Come the end of the day and the young men will all decamp together en masse to the boys-only pub and hop onto Tinder.

Rather than finding their soul mates and their equals in the workplace, young men — and young women– will increasingly seek and find physical company only among strangers. The wonderful camaraderie, friendships and equality between the sexes that grew out of the freedoms of the 1960s and 70s and made the modern Australian workplace such a vibrant and exciting place to be in the 90s and onwards will disappear, replaced with a paranoid, dispiriting, dreary, joyless socialist No Jokes zone where everyone is treading on eggshells, fearful of who will point the finger at them for glancing in the wrong way, for saying the wrong words, for laughing or smiling at the wrong moment. 

And let me brutally clear here to all you halfwits in the Liberal party. The losers of all this will ultimately be young women. Bright, smart, fun-loving young women will become pariahs, unable to form bonds with senior males who simply will not take the risk of mentoring them for fear of being seen to favour them, as well as feared and distrusted by their male peers who will soon learn that they cannot risk even the slightest rapprochement with them. And the talented women will find themselves being outplayed by the less talented women using smear and sexual innuendo to get ahead.

I repeat: any and all genuine sexual harassment, assault or abuse is abhorrent and if a crime has occurred it must be prosecuted. But the underlying assumption behind these new recommendations is that the modern Australian workplace is some seething predatory hellhole for women who are demeaned and threatened by aggressive, abusive males at every turn, lurking behind every water cooler. With only rare exceptions, nothing could be further from the truth. For many people, the workplace is their life. The government is now directly interfering in complex human interactions and emotional relationships, and what gives them the right to say what words and phrases are acceptable or not? 

Giving an activist mob like Our Watch the power to destroy lives in the workplace is an absolute betrayal of every core Liberal value. What next from this spineless government? Why not put GetUp! in charge of industrial relations? Let’s put Extinction Rebellion in charge of energy policy. Why not go the whole hog and put Safe Schools in charge of the Department of Education?

This is one more disastrous step towards removing the rights of every individual to be an individual, removing the presumption of innocence, removing due process and equality before the law and finding imaginary sins where none may actually exist. We are tearing apart the fabric of our society and replacing it with mistrust, fear and suspicion. It will take many many years to put it all back together again. 

This is a transcript of Rowan Dean’s editorial on Outsiders, Sky News Australia, 11 April.

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