I don’t think the e-mails were actually illegal. Also, I would expect that this woman would have sent a fairly clear and direct response back to Worth when the first e-mail was received. Is there any indication that this actually happened? Otherwise there could be the suggestion that the woman was leading him on for the purpose making some political capital out of it.
Afterall, the behaviour, although disgusting, is not technically illegal, especially if Worth had reason to believe she was a willing party.
We need some sexual-harassment bingo boards, STAT!
First bold: “If the victim didn’t behave in exactly the manner I suggest a victim should have behaved in, she’s obviously not a real victim because she’s not fulfilling the role”. See also the eternal if you cry you’re hysterical and unreliable, if you’re calm you clearly weren’t really raped dilemma.
I have been sexually harassed at work, and I have had unwelcome come-ons socially. And every time, I have kicked myself afterwards for not reacting the Right Way. For defaulting to “shocked disbelief, unable to form coherent sentence” or “just be super-polite and hope he just goes away, girl” or “laugh nervously because brain is still processing godawful comment”.
According to tsmithfield and doubtless many, many others, you know what? I have nothing to complain about if my harasser then continues in his unwanted behaviour. Because I didn’t react the Right Way. Because power dynamics in work and political relationships don’t exist, because there’s no societal pressure especially on women to be polite and not come across as catty bitches. Because all sexual harassers go straight to “would you like to fuck me in return for a sweet promotion” rather than starting so small, so just-this-side-of-weird that you question whether they’re really being skeezy or if you’re just overreacting, silly girl.
Bolding the second: “The victim isn’t a Logical Victim of the harasser, so there must be Something Else Going On.” Because her failure to respond to the very first “Hey how’s it going” email with “STAY AWAY, HARASSING PIGFUCKER” must mean she has some ulterior motive. Normally, we’d be going for she was flattered by his attention but because this is politics so God forbid we pass up the opportunity to insinuate some nasty conspiracy. And of course, there’s no feeding into classics like “women using their sex appeal to lead Good Men astray” happening here at all. Hell, it’s probably worse if she were doing it for political purposes rather than securing a designer-brand-furnishing sugar daddy like good strumpets do.
Bold part III, revenge of the bold: Just as we all know that being too drunk to form multisyllabic words is exactly the same as a signed affidavit affirming “I would like to engage in sexual intercourse with you right now”, it is also true, kiddies, that if you are polite, if you try to continue engaging on a purely professional level, if you redirect a person’s email address straight to your spam folder, if you God forbid try not to piss off someone with significant clout and thus stop short of rigging a Running Man necklace that will explode if they come within a hundred metres of you, your harasser is fully able to believe you are a willing participant.
The fact that all of this comes after the same commenter tries to argue that totally professional and un-sleazy emails could just have been, like, misinterpreted by someone with an axe to grind does nothing to improve my mood. Dude, if you are sending ambiguous emails to coworkers which they could be reading in a “let’s go fuck now” sense, you’re really bad at writing emails. And relying on “well, we just have to accept what the sender intended!” as a defence is just a wee bit sad.
But then, tsmithfield strikes me as the kind of person who’d say “I’m sorry you were offended” in all sincerity.
ETA: Let it be known that I love Mary Wilson of Radio New Zealand and wish to construct a small cathedral in her honour.
In other random news: I have to agree with Cactus Kate on this one. Sorry, Shane-in-the-comment-above, the Herald is a lying, lying liar. My sinuses are fucked as a general rule so add a headcold to that and I am screaming for the sweet sweet relief of pseudoephedrine, because nothing else allows me to feel vaguely human.
“Rape, not sex” watch: Oh look, yet another journo is capable of using the r-word. Seems all a woman has to do is be in broad daylight* OR provably unconscious and suddenly, hey, it’s actual rape, not “took advantage of” or “began a sexual relationship with the prepubescent child”.