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Jan 9, 2018

How accused men are responding to sexual harassment allegations

Barely a week seems to go by lately without another powerful man accused of sexual harassment and indecent assault. We take a look at the different ways they respond.

Emily Watkins — Media reporter

Emily Watkins

Media reporter

Barely a week seems to go by without another powerful man accused of sexual harassment and indecent assault. Today, The Age has reported fresh allegations against Melbourne Lord Mayor Robert Doyle, who’s currently embroiled in a sexual harassment scandal being investigated by the Melbourne City Council. It’s become a familiar story, a well-established pattern, following the revelations last year about Fox News’ Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly, producer Harvey Weinstein and others. But one thing that doesn’t always follow the same pattern is how the accused men react.

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25 thoughts on “How accused men are responding to sexual harassment allegations

  1. Zeke

    No, not Kevin Spacey. One of my most favourite movies is “American Beauty” and I absolutely love Kevin Spacey in this movie. How can I look at this man the same way after the allegations of underage sexual assault? In American Beauty he has a relationship with his teenage daughter’s friend. I hope movie hasn’t become reality.

    Are there any honourable men left?

    1. 124C4U

      Man Oh Man!
      WTF is going on in the world lately? The aliens who are running this experiment on planet earth, must be putting something in the water or atmosphere.
      Zeke I believe there are an abundance of “honorable Men” out there. This current fad for shaming and blaming “Old White Men” for everything since the beginning of time, is starting to really infuriate me. Yes a number of people (any colour you like) in positions of power have used that power to gain privilege and control over things and people. Most notably Yank Presidents and other political leaders, but lots of others of the “Elite”.
      Now with the Media looking to fill the 24 Hr cycle any old crap gets a megga beatup.
      The ” Perpetually Enraged Mob ” can get enraged if anyone says anything to do with race or origin for non whites but slag off white MEN to your hearts content.
      I do not believe that female persons should have to put up with harassment at work, or play but I have a suspicion that there would be very few out there who haven’t told a joke because it was funny or clever which someone with a grudge could construe as offensive or sexist and thus harassment. Or made some quip or remark the same effect.
      I have also had many occasions when a female person has made similar jokes and remarks. Also there have been many occasions where both parties had a tete-a-tete and enjoyed the interaction. But now, if one of them had a grudge, I would be in deep for harassment, should they so desire.
      I also suspect that if I was wealthy some might see an opportunity to screw me over for a large amount of money, with a claim of harassment.
      Further enraging me are adverts on TV showing men to be dolts and female persons as all-wise. Like that one for garden watering stuff. Where are the “Perpetually Enraged “when they’re needed?

      1. Zeke

        I agree with a lot of what you write but I’m worried about censorship after hearing about them cancelling the latest Doctor Blake Mysteries because of the media attention on Craig McLachlan. Are they also going to ban the showing of American Beauty on TV or ban any film by Weinstein?
        I don’t understand this censorship. The actor in the movie is not the person, although Spacey mentioned that his character in American Beauty to be close to his own nature.

        1. mikeb

          The Doctor Blake stuff is a bit OTT. I can understand suspending current production but why can old episodes? There are plenty of actual (not just accused) criminals still circulating in the media. “Rosemary’s Baby” anyone?

    2. Lesley Graham

      God forbid, it’s clear the entertainment industry is the hiding place of those who are either weak or fear being exposed of their true nature. I’m sorry to rain on your parade but the more removed from reality the more likely your “heroes will wear feet of clay”. It’s so disappointing but if it’s any consolation any movie with Rock Hudson has the same effect.

  2. Phen

    And not one of these approaches has worked in the slightest. With the possible exception of Rush, for whom the circumstances arent remotely clear, they all look just as guilty after going into damage control.

    1. Lesley Graham

      Yes Phen I couldn’t agree with you more, the fact that Weinstein had a history for this behaviour as long as your arm & his “meetings” were an “open secret” in the business doesn’t help either, also the experiences these women have are so similar. (he operates in a certain way) He has also been sued by quite a few women prior to his outing, so he can’t stick with his current defences. It’s one thing to defend your position, but when you find yourself constantly altering course as he does there are most likely to be real credibility issues later on down the line. The fact that they have apart from Rush gone head on (I feel there are definitely problems around this particular claim as well as Newscrap were in too much of a hurry to put out/make a story out of something that probably never existed in the first place. Rush has done the sensible thing as whatever story that may or may not have existed can’t be examined until the closure on the defamation case occurs, which could take months. I would suggest that by wheeling in the lawyers & the bean counters this could play against all of them as it will make them look far more guilty than some of them may have been in the first place. The fact that Louis CK man’s up and admits fault, is the best approach so far.

  3. AR

    As illustrated by the Spacey allegations, this is not about sex, it is about power, hierarchy & obedience of underlings, biding their time & holding their tongues in the expectation that they too will, someday, be able to be just as abusive and ugly.

    1. Duncan Gilbey

      A concise encapsulation of the ‘Star’ system.

    2. CML

      Well said AR…right on the money!

    3. Lesley Graham

      This is the problem when a system that was in common use, the casting couch has changed it’s dynamic or its MO, to move with the times, but like AR notes it’s a hierarchy that uses power & money to keep it’s pawns under control & sleeping with the pawns is an unsubtle way of reminding them of whose running the show.

  4. Karen Hutchinson

    It seems to me that a lot of ‘Old White Men’ are now reaping what they’ve sown. All that they once eagerly abused and disempowered others to gain is now being returned to them as attention they richly earn and deserve!

    1. Lee Tinson

      Unfortunately, the rest of us old white men who never did those things are also reaping what these clowns have sown. I for one am totally over hearing elderly aggressive feminists trying to make men uncomfortable just because they’re men. And really, to be able to ruin a man’s career by naming and shaming without evidence ever having to be presented is bordering on criminal behaviour. Let’s get these cases into court.

      1. Karen Hutchinson

        If you are referring to me as an elderly, aggressive feminist trying to make men uncomfortable and ruin their careers, you’re quite wrong.
        Do you have any idea how hard it is to ‘get these cases into court’? Perhaps you need to be an elderly, aggressive feminist facing off against the tidal wave of ‘old white men’ in the judiciary to know anything about it!

        1. 124C4U

          Trouble is Karen, it doesn’t have to go to Court to ruin someone’s life or career.
          An accusation is usually enough these days, especially if the “media ” get onto it.
          A schoolteacher reprimands a teenage girl for some misdemeanor. She out of spite claims he assaulted her. He’s out of a job. (true story) Similar story in a work situation, the Boss panics and sacks the bloke. And so on.
          BTW do you like the irony of the ABC interview with three girls at the Summernats. They claim to have been harassed by the some blokes, then go on to say that one of them had “got her tits out”previously.
          Is it not written – “as ye sow so shall you reap”?
          Roam around undressed and someone is bound to comment, BUT, harassment – I wonder.
          I said before NO female person or bloke or LGBTI person should be subjected to sexual harassment or intimidation anywhere.
          However the definition of that is getting very convoluted with no clear boundaries.

          1. Lorraine Paul

            Only ‘convoluted’ is how you see it? It’s perfectly plain to me. Any persistent unwanted attention, physical or verbal, is harassment. Whether there is a sexual content in that is applicable to each situation. However, it appears that it is a large part of the whole.

    2. mikeb

      Chris Gayle is a young black man. Does he count?

    3. Lesley Graham

      That is the problem with rich ‘Old White Men,’ adding in usually decrepit & ugly as well in this observation, as Weinstein seemed to think that he could get away with it.

  5. Craig Lawton

    It’s turned into a Twitter Lynch mob of all things white & male. If it’s taking on people abusing power, as a man, I’m on your side. If it’s purely about feeling good and making it a gender issue I have nothing to say. Conflating the ‘best’ and ‘worst’ hurts the victims. Going after every allegation as an unthinking mob risks an innocent victim – with possibly Geoffrey Rush being the first.

    And what was the frigging point of this article? You forgot to mention Louie CK admitted and owned his actions (different) and point out the Kevin spaceys response was different to the others!

    1. Lesley Graham

      I agree with you Craig, but coming from a feminist point of view, your always going to get those that are determined to make something out of it, to fit with their agenda, it is the way things are these days.

  6. Sue Miills

    Timely lesson in how-to-be-a-member-of-a-society; lookout for each other, support & protect each other to nip bad behaviour in the bud. Because in every way, for everybody, the consequences later will be worse.

    1. [email protected]

      Perhaps as a starting point the best response is to read ” The Second Sex” and also lin Farley’s writings to better understand the issue from a women’s perspective.

    2. Lesley Graham

      This is what happens when people don’t look out for each other, many people in the business knew how Weinstein operated, but didn’t necessarily go out of their way to put the message out to protect those who were more vulnerable. I suppose the problem is there will be people that don’t want to step out of their comfort zones so that they become a target, that will like many of the actresses he assaulted find themselves in a permanent state of purgatory.

  7. campidg

    As expected, a lot of insecure male commentary here expressing fears of false accusations feminist over-reach. Trouble is, very few cases are found to be false. There s far more evidence for real harassment, assault or rape going unreported. I therefore disagree with the assumption that more reporting will lead to a hogher proportion of false accusations. I would say a tiny minority of men has ever been falsely accused or even threatened with the same. Compare this with high the proportion of women assaulted THAT WE KNOW OF and our fears seem way out of proportion to what women actually suffer.
    Women want a change in the power balance in society and we men should be confident that we can share power rather than dominate without actually loosing significant control over our lives. Like us, Women aren’t perfect but we shouldn’t expect that if we give them an inch they will take a mile. Don’t you trust your wives, mothers, daughters, girl friends, sisters, colleagues, grandmothers, aunts and friends? They may not be the feminists, columnists, celebrities, politicians or over bearing or ‘false’ abuse victims who you may see as the enemy, but don’t assume that just because you think you know them, they don’t wish that men in general could be more thoughtful in how they treat women.
    The renegotiation of the gener power balance has been on going for a while now and a lot more needs to take place. It won’t happen, can’t happen from the top down but from the bottom up. Slowly, with each generation more and more men are raised with assumptions of gender equality and more respect for women. Slowly more and more men are listening to what the women in their lives are actually saying rather than just making assumptions about roles and reacting badly to pushback.
    Fewer and fewer of us feel the need, out fear, to protect ourselves from false accusations at the expense of coercing real victims into silence. We prefer to run a very small risk of great harm to protect women from a much greater risk of usually even greater harm and behave like, you know, a real man. We will never be perfect, and neither will they, but in the dance of our relationship with women take turns to lead and to follow, step forward, step back, go around and around and just be with the women in our lives as a husband, father, son, colleague, boy friend, grandson, nephew, and friend.

    1. Lesley Graham

      Campidg this is all women have ever wanted, from the men in their lives. Unfortunately many men are so insecure they are prepared to live in fairy stories of their own making, just so they can constantly live in denial & refuse to admit that they behaved in such an abhorrent manner. Which is sad but in a lot of these cases are the truth.