An open letter to Craig McLachlan.

Video by Mamamia

Dear Craig – and every other man who claims that women who have accused them of sexual harassment are doing it for ‘fame and money’,

At the time of writing, three of your former co-workers on The Rocky Horror show have made allegations to Fairfax and the ABC – also police, lawyers, their union and doctors – that you sexually harassed and indecently assaulted them. Overnight, two more former cast members have gone to police to make further statements and police have confirmed that they are now investigating.

In response to these disturbing, eerily similar claims, you told journalist Kate McClymont that the allegations from all the women were “baseless”, “all made up”, and “they seem to be simple inventions, perhaps made for financial reasons, perhaps to gain notoriety”.

How very, very wrong you are.

The women who have come forward and made allegations against you are looking for neither fame nor money. To claim that they are is cynical, cruel and preposterous.

These women did not take their shocking allegations to a book publisher to shop a deal. They did not approach Woman’s Day to sell a story.

Angela Scundi speaks out on the 7.30 Report.

They went to their managers. They went to police. They went to their doctors. They went to their union. They told their co-workers and their families. And finally, they spoke to the media. They did not seek nor did they receive payment for telling the painful stories of what they claim happened to them in their workplace.  They just wanted to be safe at work and for other women to be safe too. To be able to show up at their workplace each day to do their damn jobs like the professionals they are.

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Grotesquely - yet predictably - like so many before, you have defiantly claimed your accusers are chasing fame and money but here’s what you don’t understand. No woman who is sexually harassed at work wants the infamy that comes with being the one who speaks out. That’s why so few of us do and why it takes us so long to do it.

In another attempt at a defence, you told Kate McClymont that your accusers had "thousands of opportunities to raise these accusations" despite the fact some of them claim that concerns were, in fact, raised at the time to no effect.

Why didn't these women speak out publicly until now? For the exact opposite of the reasons you suggest - every woman who is sexually harassed fears fame and fears the potential loss of income associated with speaking out.

They didn't speak out in the media earlier because they were scared. Because they didn’t want to lose their jobs. Because the key to sexual harassment is that the alleged harasser has more power than their victim. More fame, more money, more influence. And that equals power in every industry. Your accusers  - just like every woman who claims to have experienced sexual harassment at work - were frightened of being sacked, of having their names and reputations smeared, of being branded a ‘trouble-maker”.

Craig McLachlan
"Because you have more fame and money than they do and that equals power in every industry." Image via Getty.

None of the women who made claims against you are household names to the same extent as you are. None of them have the ability to get top billing in their industry like you do. None of them have your power, your influence, your clout, your media profile.

Why does it often take women so long to speak out? Because we are programmed with a strong fight-or-flight response. Our instincts tell us to get away from a perceived threat and keep fleeing until we are safe. Don’t rock the boat. Don’t be that girl. Don’t make trouble. This is ingrained into us. No woman wants the responsibility of collateral damage to innocent bystanders. Or of her story blowing up and having their names associated with something so ugly. Coming forward publicly is an act of last resort and done in most cases in a bid to warn and protect other women.

We do it for our sisters.

But mostly, we stay silent. Before the past few months, before Harvey Weinstein and #metoo, many of us believed that what happened to us was not a story that anyone would care about. Many of us who experienced sexual harassment years or decades ago didn’t even know there was a name for the distressing, demeaning behaviour we endured from our bosses and co-workers. Staying silent until this moment is not the same thing as opportunism, Mr McLachlan. You are so very wrong about that too.

We are speaking out now to protect other women. Because even though we ourselves may be out of harm’s way, we know that others are not and we want to protect them, to stand up for them, our sisters. That is the moment we are living in.

There is literally nothing in this for the women claiming they've been harassed. Accusing a famous, rich, powerful man of sexual harassment is not a path to riches. In fact, it’s often the opposite. The women who speak up are extraordinarily brave and often extremely traumatised.

That’s why they are so brave for coming forward and speaking out.

And why we support them with all our hearts. This is the sisterhood. And we won't allow allegations of sexual harassment to be easily dismissed anymore. Time's up.

Listen to the Mamamia Out Loud team talking to Tracey Spicer about #metoo:

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