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If a woman is "okay" with it, is this still sexual harassment?

Fitzy and Wippa apology

Radio hosts Ryan ‘Fitzy’ Fitzgerald and Michael ‘Wippa’ Wipfli have apologised for the tasteless naked prank they played on Sunrise TV host Samantha Armytage.

Last week, NOVA FM’s most popular hosts invited Armytage in for an interview at Nova HQ. At the end of a friendly chat, Armytage was escorted into a ‘Panic Room’. She was led, blindfolded, into a pitch black room. Not knowing what was in there (and fearing it would be snakes), she tried to feel her way through the room with her hands.

What she found was a naked man. A naked Fitzy, to be exact. The man Armytage was speaking to in a professional capacity minutes ago, ambushed her in the dark, stark-naked and positioning himself physically so that she had to touch him.

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‘God I don’t know if it’s a person…it is a man, or a woman with muscles,’ Armytage said, realising who it was she was touching.

She screamed, recoiled, and backed out of the room, saying: ‘Oh my god, my eyes are burning!’

As Fitzy and Wippa laughed heartily, Armytage had a split-second decision to make: Be cool with the naked ambush, or call out the guys for treating her inappropriately.

Armytage chose to be in on the joke.

She even accepted the boys’ apology with a counter-joke on Twitter:

But, as Clementine Ford wrote for Daily Life yesterday, Armytage’s own acceptance of the prank doesn’t make it OK:

While much has been made of Armytage’s apparent enjoyment of the joke (or at least, her willingness to laugh along and accept Fitzy and Wippa’s thanks for her ‘being a good sport’), her capitulation or disinterest in the incident isn’t really the point. What IS relevant is that she works in an industry which is demonstrably hostile to women. And whether or not she believes it deep down, Armytage has been well trained in trotting out the company line whenever its rank sexism is placed under a microscope.

While Armytage claims to have been fine about the whole thing, many fans were offended on her behalf. Most of Fitzy and Wippa’s on-air pranks are at their own expense, but this was all about humiliating a single woman by confronting her with the nudity of a male colleague – and that seems to have resonated with a lot of people.

The public consensus seems to be that what the guys did was not cool. So uncool, in fact, that radio station NOVA FM has gone into damage control, issuing a public apology and removing the video from their website. Here are just a few public responses to the incident:

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In response to public outrage, NOVA FM have issued this statement via Facebook:

Fitzy and Wippa apology

Meanwhile, Sam Armytage is exasperated by women like us, who jump in to defend her when she doesn’t feel the need to be defended:

But, Sam, as long as you are treated with hostility and sexual innuendo, we will always have your back. Especially when you think you don’t need our support. How else are we going to change the way we’re treated in the media?

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