In her timely new book, Power & Consent, Rachel Doyle SC uses the catalyst of the scandal involving allegations against Dyson Heydon, former justice of the High Court, to explore and understand the power relationships at the heart of the modern workplace, and to demand a new response to complaints of sexual harassment. She outlines a range of ‘red flags’ as a simple guide to assist potential perpetrators of sexual harassment to navigate interactions in the workplace.
Women, if a male co-worker or supervisor propositions you or makes a lewd remark, are you prepared to be brave and transparent, raise the metaphorical palm of your hand up to his face and say, ‘Stop it! I don’t like it’?
I have also tried to think about these issues by answering the questions male lawyers have asked me: What are the rules? When is it permissible to flirt? Are you trying to legislate fun out of existence?
It is important to make the message clear and accessible and to avoid prudish morality.
Watch: Women And Violence: The Hidden Numbers. Post continues below.
I am not saying that two people who work together cannot fall in love, cannot date, cannot have a one-night stand.
But I do think that there are some metrics which may assist those who have difficulty reading what those around them want and do not want.
Perpetrators—this is for you! First, get out of your own head. You need to stop thinking about sexual experiences as if they are a game, and as if the women around you (including those in your workplace) are just the field upon which you play.
Think about the other person. Really think of them as a person. Exercise your own empathy muscles, or at least try to adopt her perspective.
Ask yourself what does she want? How do you think she wants this meeting, coffee, lunch, presentation to unfold? Do you honestly believe she wants you to ask her to dinner, touch her leg, snap her bra strap, kiss her cheek, show her a dick pic? And if your preliminary answer to the above is yes, why do you think that?
Now here, be honest with yourself.
It is important that you do not make the mistake of assuming you are infinitely interesting and desirable.