It was Thursday, January 25 and I woke early at about 4am. I am not often angry, bewildered, annoyed or flabbergasted at this time of the morning. It is also rare to feel frustrated and deceived at 4am.
This day was an exception. I woke to a report of a function at London’s Dorchester Hotel to raise funds for ‘worthy children’s causes’. It was a ‘men only’ event and the opening dialogue by the master of ceremonies described it as ‘the most un-PC event of the year’.
There were 360 so-called elite attendees served by 130 female hostesses all fitting the brief of being ‘tall, thin and pretty’ and all required to wear ‘black sexy shoes, black underwear and short tight black dresses’.
Madison Marriage, journalist with the Financial Times, successfully applied for a hostess role and reported her findings. Her allegations are summarised in numerous articles across all media.
Marriage reported that the function was attended by British and international business leaders and key players in politics, finance and entertainment. Or to put it another way, it was attended by senior and influential people from many of the sectors reeling from accusations of inappropriate behaviour towards women.
These are the type of people who have decried the allegations of abuse of women levelled at well-known entertainment, business and political figures. These are the people we would reasonably expect to lead the way in the enforcement of proper behaviour and respect. These are the very leaders who have stated a commitment to improving behaviour to towards women and to delivering a safe and equal workplace for all.
My emotions following reading this report have tempered a little, but I remain disillusioned. I am left feeling all the words of support and commitment to change are nothing more than lip service. I am left believing there is no real commitment to change.
It is not uncommon for a woman accusing a man of predatory behaviour to be told they should have just ‘left’. The only way there will be sustainable change is if men speak up against the behaviour of their fellow male at the time inappropriate behaviour is taking place, and then leave.
Us men appear shallow and gutless in such circumstances. Too many of us remain beholden to the ‘brotherhood’ and addicted to a role of acceptance under the disguise of being a good bloke or one of the lads.
What was never acceptable was too often tolerated. Man up, grow a set, speak up for and set an example of what we all know is right.
In respecting women, we also re-claim our self esteem, something as a collective, we cannot currently claim to have. Change starts today, must be practised and prosecuted daily and it starts with me and it starts with you.
Our daughters, nieces, sisters, mothers and aunties will be grateful.