Fight for your right to be called a harpy and STILL get harassed

Over at The Standard, the “how should Worth’s alleged victim(s) have reacted?” debate continues with everyone’s favourite psychic, Cactus Kate.

The case as given by CK and others is that if a woman doesn’t* instantly and firmly react to all and any inappropriate behaviour with a strident “YOU CAN’T AFFORD ME, SWEETHEART, BACK OFF”** well then she has no one to blame but herself.

They then go on to say that, therefore, that all people like me who defend Witness A and attack Worth’s alleged behaviour are the real misogynists, because we think women are passive victims who can’t stand up for themselves.

Which is fantastically logical for people living in a world where sexual harassment goes along the following lines:

  1. Strange man approaches woman
  2. Strange man says “Hey, I’d like to hire you, maybe in return you could suck my cock?”
  3. Woman “stands up for herself”.
  4. Strange man immediately ceases all inappropriate behaviour.

Unfortunately, human interaction only ever goes like that in the movies and the inside of Cactus Kate’s head.  But then, she also thinks people having coffee with a Minister of the Crown to discuss potential job opportunities should take a friend in case things turn nasty, and that victims of sexual harassment are suspect if they keep records – just like the Human Rights Commission advises them to.

I’d like everyone to please consider this: you’re at a cafe in Sylvia Park.***  Over at another table you see a well-dressed older man having coffee with a woman.  You may even recognise this man as a former partner at Simpson Grierson Law, or as the Member of Parliament for Epsom, or as the Associate Minister for Justice.

Suddenly, the woman bolts to her feet and declaims, “HOW DARE YOU OFFER ME EMPLOYMENT IN THIS CRUMMY CAFE, SIR!  DO NOT CONTACT ME AGAIN!” and storms out.

Now, how many of you are going to think, “What a fracking weirdo!” and how many of you are seriously going to think “You go girl, stand up for yourself to that pillar of the community offering you employment in a public space!”

Because that’s how it starts.  A working lunch.  A celebratory drink after work on a Friday.  An email asking how your weekend went.  And here’s the deal, folks.  If you’re going to argue, “Oh no, she didn’t need to rebuff him then, I meant later on when things got inappropriate” you fail.  There is no clear line between “professional meeting with utterly no sexual intentions whatsoever no sirree” and “oh, now I’m sexually harassing you.”  If we’re going to accept Cactus Kate’s theorem that women should Stand Up For Themselves, it’s got to be right from the get-go.

It’s got to mean shooting down every man who wants to get you a coffee after you’ve done him a favour.  It’s got to mean even bluntly refusing to do a coworker or superior a favour in the first place.  It means never letting a guy be nice to you, never letting a guy buy you flowers on your birthday or after a big project winds up or when a close relative dies, because if you won’t say fuck no get away from me I have no sexual interest in you whatsoever at the slightest provocation, well, how is he meant to get the message?

Because after that first step – which to you is just coffee or flowers or a pat on the back – your lack of strident strong-independent-woman smackdown is  giving him the wrong impression.

But hey, when you can’t get hired because you’ve developed a reputation as an insane overreacting bitch who can’t take a compliment without thinking it’s a come-on**** and you’re still getting dirty texts from your ex-boss because entitled harassing fucks will keep stalking you no matter how often you say no, be comforted with the fact that you stood up for yourself and you’ve made Cactus Kate proud.

*As she assumes Witness A didn’t.
**Which doesn’t feed into notions of women as commodities at all.
***Even though this makes you automatically trash.
****And because I know there are people itching to derail this, no. I do not think such reputations are good or deserved.  I just also acknowledge the reality of society’s reactions to anything a woman does – blame her.


  1. Cactus Kate

    What’s your point?

    Do you analyse male behaviour with the glass “half empty” as you have done here twisting the context of everything I have written? If so precisely all your male friends must be beaten down eunuchs because no sane, rational, successful white middle class heterosexual male would go anywhere near you.

    No man has ever sexually harassed me. Not even attempted to. I’ve never lost any employment opportunity because I am a woman and men hit on me. And you want to know why? I don’t even have to tell them that I will give it all back if they are rude or pests.

    I love men. They are fabulous creatures. I interact with plenty of men just like Richard Worth on a daily basis. Never had any trouble. For some reasons these sorts of men don’t behave like this around me or I don’t get my knickers in a knot when they do. I don’t give them the oxygen and I definitely don’t over-react as you have suggested here.

    If you wish to be a victim and think every woman is like you (or what you perceive women to be as too weak to deal with this situation) then continue as you were……your writing here says to me you have no clue how to behave around men who are not cardigan wearing, eunuchs from academia or those of the apologistic left wing.

    Poor you as you are missing out and its ruining your perception of life.

    Glass half empty.

    • QoT

      Wow, Kate. I really just have one bone to pick here – “twisting the context of everything I have written”.
      Because I was under the impression that your issue was that I’d simply “reproduced your post” without comment.
      So is there some invisible wider context where your post isn’t full of incredibly obvious victim-blaming? I’d be happy to take a look at it.
      Catty comments about my personal life sure don’t persuade me that I’ve mischaracterized you as someone who’s judgemental about any woman who doesn’t conform to your “rules to live by”.

  2. Cactus Kate

    “Over at another table you see a well-dressed older man having coffee with a woman”.

    P.S: This shows the ultimate in ignorance for the subject at hand.

    Richard Worth is never well dressed. He wears blazers that don’t fit, ill fitted shoulder padded suits that don’t match and light socks with dark shoes.

    • QoT

      Well, you’re the psychic, Kate, so obviously you know how he was dressed on that day.

  3. Fem

    “all your male friends must be beaten down eunuchs because no sane, rational, successful white middle class heterosexual male would go anywhere near you.”

    Wow, who is this woman? I thought Cactus Kate was a grown-up. Who resorts to that kind of shit in a debate? Pathetic. I can’t stand women who act like that. It’s so sad.

    I mean why can’t she discuss something without getting hysterical and personal?

  4. QoT

    @Fem – I guess I’m meant to get so wound up about moronic attacks on the men in my life that I ignore the bit where she hasn’t got a leg to stand on? Maybe for her next trick I’ll be informed I don’t have a sense of humour?

  5. Ari

    Hehe, I was waiting for someone to de-prickle our resident cactus. (I usually reserve my telling people they suck at this sort of thing for other men, where I *am* likely to know more than they are)

    Thanks QoT. 🙂

  6. Cactus Kate

    So have you ever actually been sexually harassed? I would like to know as it is clear that anyone who questions a woman who claims to be is always in the wrong. Your strident inability to think objectively about any male v female complaint is proving this. The female always is 100% right.

    This woman made a victim of herself by informing Goff in November 2008, but stating “oh but I don’t want to make a big thing of it”, being subject apparently to another 4 months of terrible torrent of non-physical abuse from the “Remuera Panther” known as Richard Worth, til it stopped in February and Goff decides three months later in May to tell John Key.

    A political set-up if ever I have seen it. She’s now lost text messages (that Goff first stated were emails).

    If you have interpreted my posts as “victim blaming” then so be it. The more that comes out about Witness A and Phil Goff’s hand-holding throughout her horrid ordeal of this “victim” the more leads me to now conclude this woman isn’t a victim at all and is doing a great disservice to women who actually are in harm from being harassed and abused.

    It’s easy to come out and scream at someone who questions the motives of a woman in a male v female interaction. Perhaps you might like to look at it from the angle if a male friend of yours was set-up similarly with this barrage of politically based nonsense.

    • QoT

      Kate, I’m going to have to ask you to keep your comments brief, as you quite clearly have an already-established and fairly widely-read blog on which to post your opinions.

      You are thoroughly welcome to provide proof of any “inability” on my part there.

      My own history is irrelevant, but your questioning it is telling. If I have anywhere stated that Men Are Always Wrong and Women Victims Are Always Right And Unquestionable, again, I’m quite interested to see that.

      If anyone is “doing a great disservice” to women in danger here, Kate, it’s the people who claim to know what ANY victim was thinking, and to pass judgement on what she did, didn’t, should have or shouldn’t have done. It’s myths and bullshit and women-as-sexual-gatekeeper ideas that are the problem, as was always my point.

  7. Michelle


    no sane, rational, successful white middle class heterosexual male would go anywhere near you.”

    Anyone who has read Cactus Kate knows she has no partner, has never had a successful long term relationship, and sseems to spend most of her time on the internet. Yet she is all about giving advice to other women!

    • QoT

      Michelle, I’m not especially cool with attacking other women based on their relationship histories. It’s obnoxious when someone claims to speak for the universal experience of women no matter what their circumstances.

  8. Trilli0n

    “no sane, rational, successful white middle class heterosexual male would go anywhere near you.”

    I am wondering why I would want one of those near me? What if I don’t like white guys? Who cares if they don’t want to go near me? I don’t like the raciest way this comment can be taken. Although that says nothing for your victim blaming and how you can’t believe that a white middle class male could do anything of the sort. That is simply narrow minded and a head in the sand view of sexism. In my opinion.