Harvey Weinstein has a lot to answer for.
First and foremost, he’s been a serial offender in pressing himself on vulnerable women and demanding sex for jobs in their very competitive profession. And there are accusations of rape which must go before the courts and could send him to jail. Few will shed a tear.
Then there are the other creeps in other professions – mostly in America - whose sexual harassing has been brought to light in the ‘me-too’ campaign and who have paid the price by being sacked and humiliated. No problem there.
No doubt there are plenty of offenders in Australia too who could - and should – be outed and shamed. And if they’ve committed crimes then of course they too should pay the price.
But then, it seems, a wave of hysteria has enveloped the twittersphere and accusations are flying everywhere. I was particularly struck by the British female journalist on 7.30 who had lunch with the Defence Secretary Michael Fallon (with a couple of glasses of wine) and when they returned to Parliament House, he attempted to ‘kiss me on the lips’ in this public place. She reported him and he resigned.
Fallon is also accused of ‘repeated touching the leg’ of another female journalist, so he probably deserved to be dobbed in. But there’s no suggestion that he was in a position of power over these ladies. In fact, one of them told him she’d ‘punch him in the face’ if he didn’t let go of her knee…and that fixed him.
Perhaps the time has come to step back a little from the twitter hothouse before relations between the sexes get so fraught that we don’t know whether we’re Arthur or Martha. We are, after all, part of the animal kingdom imbued (whether we like it or not) with the instinct to mate and to spread the seed.
Various groups within the species have different ways to regulate the process, from the restrictive Middle East to the ‘anything goes’ attitudes of, say San Francisco. But overwhelmingly, the males of our species compete for favours and they use all kinds of stratagems to secure their goal. Some use their wealth; others their wit; still others work on their bodies. Each has his successes and failures, but in every case man is the pursuer.
The females on the other hand use their looks, their intelligence and their personalities to attract suitors and retain mates. And provided there’s mutual respect – which starts and finishes in the home - it seems to work pretty well.
But the Weinstein hysteria has revealed a rage and a resentment among some women that seems to want the roles reversed. It’s part of a pattern that has seen some really good progress in sport, for example, with women’s cricket and footy getting much more recognition. (I’m a devotee of both) But in tennis I reckon it’s gone over the top when women are paid the same as men but only play three sets instead of five. If they were fair dinkum, they’d make it ‘open tennis’ and all play in the one competition.
That said, it’s entirely possible that this role reversal could work. One of our distant relatives, the Bonobos have tried it and it seems to work well for them. Our system is more like the male oriented Chimpanzees’ and leaves much be desired, particularly when the top Chimp is Donald J Trump.
Meantime, perhaps we might learn from the Weinstein scandal that respect – and a sense of humour – are far preferable to what used to be called ‘the battle of the sexes’.
firstname.lastname@example.org Robert Macklin has carved out a unique place among Australia’s literary biographers and historians. His Dark Paradise swept aside the curtain of euphemism to expose the horror of colonial sadism on the penal colony of Norfolk Island. His monumental history of Australia’s Special Forces - Warrior Elite - is required reading in the fields of Military Security and Intelligence. His best-selling biography, SAS Sniper revealed as never before the battles against Islamist fanatics. And these are just a few of the highlights among his 27 respected and popular works of fiction and non-fiction.. Off Robert's latest book Dragon and Kangaroo Canberra writer and journalist ALEX MITCHELLON offers: Rob Macklin has recently written a highly relevant, timely and utterly riveting book on the intricate relationship between Australia and China. Over the years, I’ve read most of Macklin’s 28 books but this is his best. It’s a cracker. With China established as Australia’s major trading partner, and the Beijing rulers under enormous Western pressure to declare all-out economic war on their nearest neighbour, North Korea, Australians have been obliged to consider soberly the “China question”. Can Australia maintain its current twin-track policy of a) profiting from trade with China while b) joining the US and British strategy to encircle China with a menacing military and diplomatic cordon?