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'Witch-hunt or a great awakening?: Tensions surrounding the #MeToo movement' by Felicity Chaplin

June-July 2018, no. 402

'Witch-hunt or a great awakening?: Tensions surrounding the #MeToo movement' by Felicity Chaplin

June-July 2018, no. 402

Earlier this year, following the infamous Barnaby Joyce affair, Malcolm Turnbull called for a rethink of the parliamentary code of conduct to ensure this ‘shocking error of judgement’ on Joyce’s part did not happen again. New ‘guidelines’ would prevent senior politicians from engaging in a sexual relationship with their staffers, even if the sex was consensual. It was an oddly draconian captain’s call which received bipartisan support, reflecting what Turnbull called the ‘changing values’ of the workplace.

Such a reaction – some might say ‘overreaction’ – is part of a larger cultural shift which can be traced back to the first stirrings of what has come to be known around the world as the #MeToo movement. Of course, consensual sex between two adults from the same workplace may seem a far cry from the alleged abuses that prompted the #MeToo movement. Nonetheless, the underlying assumption of both cases is that what we are dealing with here is not sex at all but power, what Van Badham, writing for The Guardian, called ‘a delectable indulgence not of sex, but of advantage’.

Comment (1)

  • I don't care what Barnaby Joyce does with a consenting, adult female adult. However, if it was before his marriage ended and his wife didn't know, then I think it's a pity that he didn't come clean with his wife when the affair occurred. However, I think the film Manhatten by Woody Allen is sickening. It is about child abuse. it's a middle-aged man involved with a 17 year old school-girl. Adult women in the workplace should be free to decide who they do and don't have sex with as long as there is no abuse of power. Just because someone is senior to you in the work-place does not mean that you are necessarily the victim of an abuse of power, so long as you are over a certain age. I don't know what that age is. I view Monica Lewinksy as a victim because she was so young when the whole affair with Clinton happened, but she was a legal adult. If there's a huge age difference and power imbalance then I think people in the work place should refrain from having affairs (whether the person in power is male or female), but once someone is in their thirties, I think they should be free to say yes to sex with anyone they work with. It's a difficult one, because no one is g0ing to legislate for a new age of consent in the workplace! But since scans now prove that the frontal lobe of the brain (that understands and foresees consequences), is not fully developed until around the age of 25, maybe that should be taken into consideration.
    Posted by Robert Moore
    31 May 2018

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