By George Cook
There seems to be a recurring theme that has featured in almost every issue of Gair Rhydd and the Comment Section this year. It is the one of sexual assault and sexist attitudes by the famous and by the powerful. From Harvey Weinstein to the England Women’s Football Team, the degradation of women across society appears to be far more prevalent and systematic than almost everyone but the victims of such treatment actually recognises.
After Kevin Spacey’s disgraceful conflation with sexual harassment allegations and his sexuality, it seems that the despite the privileged position the famous faces occupy, they fail to acknowledge that they too are susceptible to the same societal behaviours and condemnation as the rest of us. It also appears that the powerful think the dignity and respect of others is irrelevant and inferior when it comes to their sexual desires. By our admiration and fascination of such figures through the media, we may have become blind to their abuses of power from the high pedestal they occupy, that we, the public, have placed them on.
Such an analogy has also been proven to be applicable of those who lurk in the corridors of power and sit in the House of Commons. Numerous instances of sexual harassment have been reported in this past week from ministers sending aides to buy sex toys to inappropriate text messages being delivered to female staff and journalists alike. Our political system is so dominated with men and the subsequent determination for power by all that they use this to manipulate female employees. There is a lack of meritocracy that runs from the corridors of Westminster to the door of 10 Downing Street criss-crossing over journalists on the way. It isn’t just sexual assault, it’s the overall objectification of women in power from Theresa May’s leopard print heels to the treatment of Dianne Abbot in the Summer election.
In politics, it looks like women are not there for the merits and skill sets they offer but for the admiration of often old, white, male politicians. And when these females speak up refusing to be objectified and abused in such a demeaning a way, they are threatened with the prospect of their career dangling by a thread, in the grubby hands of a sex focussed politician. This is not new knowledge for those in politics, but the reach of sexual harassment and assault seems to be far more expansive than anyone first thought.
It is not just the Westminster political establishment that is ridden with problems of sexual assault. Local politics has too become embroiled in the sexual assault scandal, with very serious cases being bought forward. Bex Bailey has alleged how she was raped by a senior party official in the Labour Party, a similar story to Westminster where politicians abuse their position to pounce on those less superior to them. But what is even more contemptible is the treatment of the incident afterwards. After informing officials in Labour of the incident, she alleges she was discouraged from going public with her ordeal for it would apparently damage her career. In reality, those senior officials were actually worried about the carnage it would cause for their own careers. I feel that carnage has now been magnified after these revelations that demonstrate human emotions are apparently incompatible with power.
Despicable cowardice goes some way to describing the current situation across society but especially in politics. The preying nature of certain politicians on those less powerful than themselves suggests that there is not just a sex driven culture at the heart of politics, but one that is elitist, tormenting and domineering for those who find themselves managed by delinquent politicians. Such traits were exhibited at Prime Minister’s Questions last week, as Michael Fabricant suggested sexual assault ‘doesn’t count if people were sloshed’. Therefore, as we approach Bonfire Night, it appears that a plot is needed to blow up the discriminatory and deplorable attitudes embedded deep in the Palace of Westminster that permeate across British politics.