Podcast – Episode 3: Afraid to Speak Up? #MeToo

A look at #MeToo from a Guernsey perspective with local lawyer Rachel

Michelle: The global #MeToo campaign and Time’s Up, have been so big over the last few months. I’ve been finding it impossible to keep up with the daily flood of information. I find myself seesawing between, “This is fantastic. I’m really with this,” and the, “Hmm, I’m not so sure. What’s the backlash going to be? Are we going too far?” The one thing that I know for certain is whilst there’s so much attention out there in the global media, that I’ve not heard a single conversation in the media locally here in Guernsey. So what’s that all about?

Michelle: Today, I’ve invited a lawyer, Rachel, who’s going to come to talk to us. We’re going to look at this subject from both a Guernsey perspective and a wider global one. She’ll be with me later. Before Rachel arrives, I’ve done the usual thing, I’ve gone Googling, to look up what I can find on the #MeToo campaign. I’ve gone straight to the font of all knowledge called Wikipedia. This is what I read,

#MeToo spread virally in October 2017, as a hashtag used on social media, to help demonstrate the widespread prevalence of sexual assault and harassment, especially in the workplace.

It followed soon after the public revelations of sexual misconduct allegations against Harvey Weinstein. The phrase, long used by social activist Tarana Burke, to help survivors realize they are not alone, was popularized by actress Alyssa Milano, when she encouraged women to Tweet it, to give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem. Since then, the phrase has been posted online millions of times, often with an accompanying personal story of sexual harassment or assault. The response on Twitter included high profile posts from several celebrities, and many stories of sexual violence were shared, including from Gwyneth Paltrow, Ashley Judd, Jennifer Lawrence, and Uma Thurman.

The original purpose of #MeToo by creator Tarana Burke was to empower women through empathy, especially the experience of young and vulnerable brown or black women.”

Michelle: When I read this, the word that really jumped out at me was empathy. In the #MeToo whole thing, one of the things I’ve found has been quite absent really is the whole concept of empathy for the women going through it. There seems to be so much criticism, one, of the men, but of the women themselves who have stepped up and spoken out. Jia Talentino, writing in The New Yorker, was talking about the inevitable backlash against the #MeToo campaign. It was her view that it was interesting, given the extent of the whole campaign, how many people seemed to be more concerned with overreach than anything else. That came to light after the publication of the Catherine Deneuve letter. It was written as an open letter and signed by her and 100 French women. They were defending the freedom to bother. That’s the first time I’d heard that expression. What they were really saying was, “Yes, rape is illegal.” They went on to say,

Rape is a crime, but trying to seduce someone, even persistently or cack handedly is not, nor is men being gentlemanly a macho act.

Michelle: It went on about the fact that the whole #MeToo campaign has collapsed rape and serious acts of misconduct with other stories of people in a position of power making a gesture of “friendliness”, shall we say, a hand on the knee, etc. How is it possible to really draw the line? Where do you draw the line? Where does one thing become another? Have the women, Catherine Deneuve, etc., done more harm to the overall campaign than helped it?

I can’t help but go back to the President Trump election. He was accused of sexual impropriety with or by 19 different women, and was caught on tape bragging about sexual assault, and boasted on national television about advising friends to be rougher with their wives, and yet

he was still elected President of the United States. How can that be possible? I wonder would it be possible now? Would post #MeToo, the vote have gone different?

It’s impossible to say, but it’s one of the things that is now on my mind, as a potential positive outcome of the #MeToo campaign.

Michelle: Why do so many men and women want to point the finger, want to criticize, want to criticize other women for stepping up and speaking out?

Why is it so difficult when you have been the subject of a serious sexual assault, to actually speak up and get empathy?

This word again, empathy. It’s long been talked about as a thing, that women tend to be harder and more critical of other women. It’s the sad reality that is part of this #MeToo campaign too.

Women often accuse other women of using their sexual attraction to get them somewhere. Erin Gloria Ryan was writing in the Daily Beast,

If women sleep their way to the top so frequently, then one would think there would be more of them at the top.

Among women, using one’s sexuality to advance one’s career is generally frowned upon, but it’s a pretty common assumption that people make about women who succeed. As the waterfall of #MeToo stories has shown, powerful people are still trying to use their power to obtain sex. They’re also using sex to maintain their power, men and women do this.

Women who try to weaponise their sexuality are at best sleeping their way to being the top’s plus one.

Michelle: She went on to say, “In the myth of the woman sleeping her way to the top, the only people the woman is harming is herself. Men sleeping with women to the bottom is more insidious. It blocks potential, it interrupts lives, it changes industries in ignoble ways.

As women, we look down our noses at women who may have given in to sexual coercion, in the hope of it helping their careers. In truth, even if they did do it, with that express motivation, that won’t help them, unless they’re actually capable of doing the job.”

Michelle: In support of the #MeToo campaign, the whole awards season has been littered with red carpets with black dresses and white roses. Another campaign was started in the Berlin Film Festival, which is #Nobody’sDoll. That one was encouraging women to forego the tottering heels and tight dresses, and says, “How come you’ve got to wear those type of outfits anyway to an awards’ ceremony? Whether they’re black or not, they’re still a way of making women conform to a stereotype.” Which made me think, “How different would an awards’ ceremony be if everybody just rocked up in comfortable clothing?” Would that take something away from it? Do we not spend most of the time looking at awards’ ceremonies, looking at who turned up in what dress?

Michelle: Which gets us back to the argument of can you be a feminist and dress in a provocative, sexual, alluring way? Which reminds me, a couple of years ago I was running an event, and somebody told me the story about her daughter, who had been really interested in Princess Dragon Slayer. She said, “Mummy, I want to kill dragons, but I want to wear a pretty dress while I’m doing it.” The whole notion of killing dragons brings me onto the point of power.

Really, is #MeToo just about sex, or is it more about the abuse of power?

When we get to the abuse of power, women do abuse power, maybe not as often and maybe not in the same way, but abuse of power is still there. I think really, the whole issue tiptoes over from one of purely sexual harassment, into one of workplace bullying and bullying men of women, men of men, women of women, women of men. Apparently, one in six men who were surveyed, said they had experienced some sort of sexual abuse, which yes, is a lower number than the number of women who have claimed to have experienced it, but it’s still significant.

Michelle: Going back to the whole thing of women in power. The stereotypical idea of a female boss is often of somebody who is the ice queen, the bitch from hell. As a feminist myself, obviously, I remember being at school, I remember being bullied in the playground. Some of the behaviour we see in offices still is very much like the playground. You can make your best friends for life, but also you can really suffer at the hands of people that aren’t so nice. I also think there’s a lot of social rhetoric that’s out there about women pitting themselves against women. Yes, maybe not for this broadcast, I have other stories to tell about my time when I was the only woman on a board, and what that was like.

Michelle: It was the other day, I was talking to somebody about what is the history of women pointing the finger and being nasty at other women? Which is the social norm we look to accept. She was saying to me, “Ah yes, but don’t forget it’s not that long since the Salem Witch Trials, and how in those days you could get off, or be excused, or save your own life, by pointing the finger at somebody else as being a witch.” I do wonder how much of that is still part of our culture.

Michelle: Fascinating as witch trials are, that’s not the subject for today’s podcast. Looking at my watch, Rachel should be here any moment. I’ll be back shortly.

Michelle: Hi Rachel, thank you ever so much for coming along and helping me out on this podcast.

Rachel: Absolute pleasure Michelle. Good to see you.

Michelle: And you. I believe you’re going between Guernsey and London now on a regular basis.

Rachel: I am indeed, and I’m loving it. I fully think I’ve found the best of all worlds. I’m quite happy.

Michelle: Yes, cool. Today we’re looking at the whole #MeToo, and very much from a Guernsey perspective. I know now you’re going between the mainland and …

Rachel: The big city.

Michelle: The big city, you’ll have a wider perspective. Can you just start us off with the legal side of sexual harassment? I don’t know if there’s any official definition of what is or what isn’t sexual harassment?

Rachel: There is.

In Guernsey, our sex harassment laws fall under the sex discrimination ordinance. We don’t have a set piece of legislation governing sex harassment.

There is also a criminal angle, so obviously if you felt that it was something that was particularly, that you wanted to tell the police about, there’s a criminal avenue you can go down and that person could be arrested or what have you.

Michelle: When you get to rape or something similar?

Rachel: Yes, or assault, or anything that you think is, out of order in the workplace, not connected to your employment, of a criminal nature. Anything else would potentially come under the civil legislation, so that’s the sex discrimination ordinance. The definition of sex harassment in that law, which came in 2005, so not that long ago really, is that

it is unwanted, unreasonable, or offensive conduct, that can be physical, verbal, or otherwise, of a sexual nature, or other conduct based on sex. It could be gender, as well as sexual conduct, affecting the dignity of men or women at work.

Rachel: It broadly ends up falling into three categories of sex harassment. The first one is unwanted conduct of a sexual nature. Back in the day, that would have been posters of naked women, that sort of thing. Now it’s more explicit jokes being sent by email, or it would cover touching, comments about a woman’s chest size, that sort of thing. The second one is unwanted conduct relating to gender. It doesn’t have to be of a sexual nature. For even just putting something on a higher shelf. I noticed that you were pulling down something with a spatula off that top shelf in the kitchen.

Michelle: I wanted to get the coffee out.

Rachel: If someone had done that in the workplace and they were deliberately placing things high up, knowing that there were lots of women who naturally tend to be shorter than men, that could be unwanted conduct relating to gender. The third one is where you treat someone less favourably because they’ve spurned sexual advances, or they haven’t spurned them, there was some sort of a sexual relationship, and then you’re treating them less favourably because of that relationship, the way that developed. There are three broad areas of sex harassment that the claims tend to fall into.

Michelle: We did WDF, a Women’s Development Forum, on this a few years back, and it was actually quite well done, in that we were looking at Secret Santa, and whether if you got a skimpy pair of pants as a Secret Santa gift, whether that was sexual harassment or not.

Rachel: It could be, if it was offensive to someone.

Michelle: Exactly, exactly. What we were saying actually was a Victoria’s Secrets pairs could be quite flattering.

Rachel: Some people might love it, but some people might not.

Michelle: Might like that, but a big, giant pair of bloomers would be seen as being …

Rachel: Potentially quite offensive.

Michelle: Offensive, Yes. It seemed to be that it was around not necessarily the intention.

Rachel: Very much so.

It’s the perception. It’s all about the way that it’s received. There have been umpteen cases on this point, it really doesn’t matter what the perpetrator meant, “It was only meant to be a joke,” or, “Well, she didn’t seem to mind,” it’s how the recipient feels about it, how they end up feeling. It’s subjective basically.

Michelle: That’s a good point about jokes. Office humour is often, when you start working in a place, you have to gauge what the humour is like. Sometimes it can be quite blue. As a woman working there, I know for a fact that I did learn in various places to just, should we even say – man up?

Rachel: Yes, I mean there was a case a couple of years ago in the UK on this, which is really, really quite important, because it goes quite far to protect women in that sort of situation, particularly when they’re in a male dominated environment. The case was a lady, she worked for a car manufacturing company. It was a very laddish sort of atmosphere. She was one of only a very small number of women. She joined in with the banter. It was also quite blue. No one would have known, ostensibly she seemed to be getting on with it quite happily, but then she made a complaint. She brought a claim that said that she’d felt she’d had to join in with the banter, because otherwise she wouldn’t have been one of the lads. The courts found in her favour. It went quite far. It went to the Court of Appeal, and it was found in her favour. Basically the courts will look at the context of a workplace.

Even where someone’s consented to the banter or joined in with the banter, that won’t be a defence for the perpetrator, if the environment that they were in was one that they may have felt pressure to join in.

That’s really useful for women who think, “I could never bring this claim, I joined in. I laughed along with it.” You can, you absolutely can.

Michelle: Yes. That’s really interesting. You do sometimes have to join in the humour that you don’t actually find very funny, but if you were seen to be shocked, then the jokes on you. Who’s the prude? Who’s the woman who can’t take it?

Rachel: Exactly. You don’t want to be the woman who stands up and says no, because you’ll instantly probably be ostracized. You want to fit in, even if it is offensive to you.

Michelle: I mean this fear of being ostracized, I think the real thing that’s different about this #MeToo is who is standing up and saying things. We’ve got attractive female actresses that are standing up and saying things. Do you think the message is being received differently, because of who is speaking up?

Rachel: Unfortunately, yes, I think it probably is. These women aren’t sort of scary feminist, sort of shouty, awkward, disagreeable women. They are on our TV screens. They’re in Hollywood. They are people that some of us have grown up with and they to all intents and purposes, seem like strong successful women, and yet they are still falling foul of people like Harvey Weinstein. Angelina Jolie is a classic example, very strong, very beautiful, very magnanimous. She’s a UN ambassador. Brilliant on so many counts, and yet she still found herself in a hotel room with Harvey Weinstein, feeling uncomfortable, having to spurn his advances. She’s one of the many strong Hollywood actresses that ended up in that position. I do think, sorry I’ve gone off point, I do think it does make a difference when the person speaking up isn’t Margaret Thatcher or Mary Beard that you referred to previously, as great as those people were.

Michelle: It’s about the stereotypes. If you Google “feminist” you get scary looking women with hairy armpits and nose rings. It’s that kind of, “I don’t want to be seen as one of those.” If somebody who is seen as an archetypal feminist speaks up, do they get listened to in the same way, by men and women alike? I think there’s very much a case there.

When we were talking offline before about Mary Beard; Mary Beard is a classic’s scholar, who did a couple of TED Talks quite recently, in which she was talking about, and it’s relevant to this, in that she was talking about oratory and that being absolutely the preserve of the masculine in ancient civilizations, Romans and Greeks. Women were not allowed to be heard in those times, unless they were speaking up as victims just before they were being put to death.

Michelle: The parallels with what’s happening now is that these #MeToo women are still speaking up as victims. They’re speaking up as victims of the Harvey Weinsteins. We’re not hearing, or I haven’t heard yet, and I haven’t found … It might be out there on the millions and millions of Google pages, of any actress going, “Yes, I slept with him because I thought it would do my career some good.”

Rachel: No, that’s true. I think does this take us into the territory of if women are only speaking up as victims, does that put us in a position where it’s become cyclical and we’re actually making it worse? Then it’s as though we’re always speaking as victims or we’re making ourselves victims more than levelling the playing field. We don’t want to always be putting ourselves out as victims. We want to have a level playing field. The more sometimes that you’re putting that message out there, the more it’s self-fulfilling. I know we talked about this briefly as well offline, but it’s something that I do wonder about, is this going to end up like an elastic band, flicking the other way, so that we end up in a situation where, “I don’t want to hear about another sex harassment claim. Would these women just stop with the moaning.”

Michelle: I think we’re there already. I think we’re there already in some respects. It’s how do we keep the momentum of what’s good about #MeToo? With the whole Barry Burnell thing, with all the young guys and the football coach, these men are now coming out on TV and saying, “30 years ago I was serially abused by this football coach. I was eight.” The youngest one was eight. Your heart bleeds to listen to them, but up until now, they’ve not been able to speak out.

I’m thinking has the women speaking out as victims enabled these men to speak out as victims?

Rachel: Maybe. Yes, yes, maybe.

Michelle: Whilst I’m totally with you, I don’t think there’s a right answer here. It’s just looking at this interplay between the good it’s doing and what potential bad might the backlash have. Bringing it back into Guernsey, since the law came out in 2005, as far as I know, there’s only actually been a handful of cases.

Rachel: Yes, that’s true. Less than 10 cases since it came in. A bit, I suppose, the vast majority, because there could be many more, but they don’t make it all the way through to the tribunal hearing. They would settle beforehand, but even then, having spoken to members of the tribunal, I don’t think that many are brought in the first place. There’s only actually been one successful; or rather one claim that went through to a tribunal hearing that was brought by a man. The vast majority are brought by women, which is quite interesting.

Michelle: Why do you think there’s so few over here?

Rachel: I think it’s a combination of factors. I would say that the greatest one is the size of the island, hands down.

It’s a very small place. It’s a very sensitive issue. I think women don’t want to be thought of as that woman who’s brought that claim. They don’t want that to colour their careers.

We’ve all been there. Michelle, I’m sure you and I have both got stories that we could tell of our own experiences.

Michelle: Absolutely.

Rachel: There’s a scale, obviously. I think there’s a certain amount of things that people will just let go by, because it is easier potentially than taking it to that next level, which means months of a public hearing, the stress of it. What if it doesn’t go in your favour? Then that’s even worse, because then you’re that person that brought that claim and lost. I think the public stigma and the size of the island, if you’re in the UK, you could just go get a job somewhere else afterwards, and probably no one’s going to know about it. It might be reported in the local paper, but you know what I mean?

Michelle: Yes, that’s a point. These cases get reported near verbatim in the local paper.

Rachel: They do. Yes, they do. It’s all public. If it’s a slow news week, it could well be front page. Who really wants that? Even if there’s a valid claim, do you still want it splashed all over the press for everyone to read? Probably not.

Michelle: I mean it reminds me, you’re probably far too young to remember this, but I do remember as a child, that the divorce cases were all in the Guernsey paper. They used to be reported with who was the co-respondent.

Rachel: Oh dear, oh dear.

Michelle: And what was the reason?

Rachel: Right.

Michelle: I remember family, maiden aunts mainly, spending their time going through and pointing the finger, “She’s …” its bit like that still, with these sexual harassment cases. Maybe one of the things we should be doing is talking to the Guernsey Press and saying, “Surely this should be kept under wraps until the end of the case?”

Rachel: Perhaps giving the tribunal and the courts more powers to request that the press don’t attend certain hearings, if they think there’s a sensitive issue? They already do for minors and vulnerable adults and that sort of thing. A sex discrimination claim could be just as damaging, if that goes into the public arena. That’s the first reason, I think the size of the island.

Rachel:

I’d say the second reason that people don’t bring claims over here is that the award’s pretty modest – three month’s salary.

Michelle: It’s only three months?

Rachel: Three month’s salary, yes.

Michelle: Oh my goodness.

Rachel:

There’s no extra amount for injury to feelings or compensation that way, as there is in the UK. Really, is it worth it?

Michelle: Who would? Who would?

Rachel: Unless perhaps you’re leaving the island or you really want to sort of punish the employer in public, drag them through a public hearing.

Michelle: We’ve got legislation, but it’s not really legislation with any kind of teeth?

Rachel: Major teeth, not really, no. Obviously, if you’re on a substantial salary, then your three months is going to be great, but really? Do you want …? If you’re engaging lawyers to help fight it, then that’s going to eat into your award, because you don’t get your legal fees back.

Michelle: I will refrain from making jokes about lawyer’s fees at this point.

Rachel: All very good value always!

Michelle: Yes. Absolutely! If you’re only on a modest salary, then you’re not going to get anything, are you?

Rachel: No.

Michelle: Apart from justice.

Rachel: Yes. As I said,

often for people it’s not about the money, and that goes for all sorts of claims, but especially in the employment arena, it’s more about the principle, “I want them to know that they dismissed me unfairly, or that they harassed me, or that I was discriminated against.” It’s the validation of the claim in the first place. Punishing the perpetrators, and what better way than in a public forum, but you’ve got to be made of pretty strong stuff I think to do it.

Michelle: I’m wondering, what’s coming up as you’re talking here, is the shame that’s attached to this. It’s very easy to say to these actresses, “You don’t go to a dodgy old man’s hotel room,” but they all did.

Rachel: I think often though, he was quite conniving. There was the impression that there was a party or something, and his trick was being in his dressing gown and asking for a massage when they opened the door, like something out of a movie. You’re right, they did, they did go.

Michelle: They did go, so there will be an element of, “I brought this on myself, and therefore I’m partly to blame here. I was naïve. I was stupid.” Whatever. There’s always that, which then holds people back from going, “I feel absolutely justified in bringing this to the attention.” It’s like the cascade effect that’s happened with #MeToo, you need one really brave soul, and she wasn’t, well I didn’t know who she was, I didn’t think she was that much of a public name at the time. You need some brave soul to be the first one.

Michelle: Do you think one of the things that we’ve got here is what was OK in the 70s and 80s, is definitely not OK now? I think there is a line to be drawn between historical stuff, we did have to put up with an awful lot of stuff in the olden days, but I’m really curious to know your opinion on whether you think there is any big live case out there in Guernsey brewing away, and that nobody wants to speak up about it?

Rachel: I think that is entirely possible. I really do. We’ve seen it obviously happen in the US. It’s happened in the UK, various different places. It’s entirely possible there could be something in Guernsey, maybe one of the bigger companies, banks, trust companies, law firms, wherever, where you may have had one particular person that’s been there for a long time, that’s maybe been sexually harassing various people in the workplace. They could be male or female, let’s face it. You would only need one person to come forward, and I could fully envisage a situation where you end up with 20 or 30 people that come forward saying, “Oh yes, I worked there from X date to X date, and he did it to me as well.”

Rachel: As we said before, this law has only been in for 12 years. Prior to this law, there was nothing to stop, literally no claim you could bring if you were being harassed in the workplace or discriminated against. I think that’s entirely possible, with the size of Guernsey and so on. It’s even more likely that people would be sitting on something and not saying anything, than if they were in the US or the UK.

Michelle: I think you’re right. It’s entirely possible that there’s something out there, that should really be exposed. With the situation we’ve got at the moment, in terms of it being reported in the newspaper in the way it is, is it going to happen? Do people feel safe enough?

Rachel: I think there’s safety in numbers. I think they would if there were a group, if there was a collective. I think one or two women on their own might be too scared to do it. I think if there were four or five, it’d be a totally different story. I think they’d feel a lot more support. It would be very difficult for other members of the public to poo poo it and say, “They must have been the ones doing something wrong.” I think it’s just strength in numbers. I think the external stuff that #MeToo and the Time’s Up etc., will definitely be making people think about it. It’s just taking that extra step to actually do it.

Michelle: No easy answers on this.

Rachel: No, but as I say, it wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest, if tomorrow morning a story broke about Guernsey, or Jersey, similar sort of situation. Their sex discrimination law only came in 2014.

Michelle: Yes.

Rachel: Really quite recently.

Michelle: Is it better than Guernsey’s?

Rachel: It’s very similar. They have sex orientation protection as well. Technically, in Guernsey, you can still discriminate on someone on grounds of their sex orientation, where in Jersey they’ve covered that off under the law. It’s just an element that’s missing really in our law, which should probably be there, but we’re not talking about that today.

Michelle: We know how long it takes to get laws amended in this island.

Rachel: Yes

Michelle: Before, we were talking about how this whole #MeToo thing has gone on towards them trying to ban grid girls and the whole furore that was around the President’s Club dinner. You were saying something about the advert?

Rachel: Yes, so apparently the advert that went out, that was issued by the President’s Club, looking to hire waitresses or hostesses for this charity dinner, asked for tall, thin, and pretty ladies, which is a red flag. Then asked for them to wear matching underwear and high heels.

Michelle: That was actually in the advert?

Rachel: I think the matching underwear and high heels may have been in the job spec after they had applied. They were told that they would receive their uniforms on the night. Either way, one argument that often comes up is, “Those girls were ridiculous. They obviously knew they were going to something that was going to be highly chauvinistic.” Walking into a lion’s den sort of thing. They did, they went along, wearing matching underwear and high heels. They were given little tiny dresses and they put them on, and they carried on.

Rachel: It is a difficult one, because arguably yes, they knew that they were going into something that obviously wasn’t politically correct. They would have seen very quickly that it was a largely male or entirely male audience, and that they were all female hostesses. Why didn’t they turn around and walk out at that point? Why did they even go in the first place? Some people say, “They were students, they needed the money,” etc., etc. For me, I think women should be allowed to do whatever they want, in the same way that men can do what they want. I don’t think we should be ever saying, “Grid girls can’t be grid girls,” or, “Models can’t walk down a catwalk,” or, “Hollywood actresses can’t wear high heels to a movie premiere.”

Rachel: For me, the line is where that woman is made to feel uncomfortable, whether it’s physically, or something’s that said to her, or an insinuation. Yes, OK she may put herself in more of a risky situation by going somewhere like that, but I do think there is a line. I think most people would know that line when they saw it as well. Obviously, every situation differs. There are always grey areas. I think generally, if you look at the circumstances, all of these cases, the sex discrimination cases, they make sense. You can see where the line is and where someone’s crossed it.

Michelle:

The argument is really they knew that they were being employed to be pretty and to be looked at. They weren’t necessarily aware that they were being employed to be touched.

Rachel:

Exactly, or propositioned, or pushed up against doors, walls, as I think some of them were. Models are employed to look pretty and grid girls are too. I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing. Women are beautiful, let’s celebrate that.

Michelle:

So is David Beckham in his underpants!

Rachel: Exactly, and “Butlers in the Buff” that’s very similar to the hostesses at the President’s Club dinner. I don’t think we should be saying that we can’t have art around the human body or enjoy the beauty of people. I think it’s just when people are made to feel uncomfortable, male or female. I think that’s where the line has to be. I think this sort of knee jerk reaction of, “Ban everything. Ban grid girls. Everyone should wear track suit bottoms on the red carpet.” I think that’s too far. I think it’s just recognising that the line is where people feel uncomfortable. I’m not sure where else you could put the line really.

Michelle: Yes, and this will lead into another podcast we’re doing on the whole fashion thing, and how it affects women’s confidence. If we’re wearing something we feel good in, and it makes a difference to your confidence when you’ve got a pair of heels on compared to when you haven’t. All of those things, we don’t want to rob ourselves of the benefits of how we dress. It’s very important to our identity.

Rachel: Yes, of course. Also, I love a pair of high heels, I really do. I like the way the shoe looks. I like the way I’m a bit taller in them. I love everything about them. I wouldn’t like to be told I had to wear high heels for my job, because sometimes I won’t want to, I want to wear flats, because I’ve got some nice pairs of flats as well. I think choice is really important here.

I think that’s something that was taken away from those women at the President’s Club dinner. They were choosing to go along. They were choosing to wear the matching underwear and the high heels. They weren’t choosing to be touched and propositioned in the way that they were. That’s the difference.

Michelle: Yes, I think that’s a really important point. OK, we’re coming up to the end of our podcast time, but thank you so much Rachel for coming in and helping us getting the legal perspective.

Rachel: No problem.

Michelle: I just want to say, if anyone out there is listening, especially on the island of Guernsey and what we’ve been talking about has raised some questions for you, I will be putting some contact numbers in the show notes.

There is somebody out there that you can phone and you can speak to, and it would be totally confidential.

Until then, thank you Rachel, and goodbye.

Rachel: Thank you.

Contact Numbers: –

Rachel Richardson Counsel at Ogier Rachel.Richardson@ogier.com

Victim Support Charity – 01481 713000 victimsupportgsy@cwgsy.net

Victim Support advice booklet

Safer – Domestic Abuse Charity 01481 721999

Citizen’s Advice – 01481 242266

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