It was left to the woman to clean up the mess.
The statement from ABC journalist Ashleigh Raper on what she says Labor leader Luke Foley drunkenly did to her at a Christmas Party, tells you everything you need to know about why women generally don’t report sexual harassment. Luke Foley says the allegations against him are false, and has indicated he will sue for defamation.
Mostly women don't report because it invariably falls on them to manage the consequences of doing so.
And for something that is so routinely minimised as women not being able to take a joke, or women over-reacting, or women making victims of themselves, sexual harassment can have huge consequences.
Firstly - for the man involved. As her statement makes clear, Raper did not want to be the person who brought down a leader, and possibly, influence the next state election. She probably did not want to be the one to bring disgrace on someone so public, even though, if we believe her, it is Foley who has done that to himself. Foley denies the allegations.
Then, there were the consequences for Raper herself.
As she makes clear in her statement, she never wanted to make a complaint to her employer, or more publicly, because she wanted to keep her job at state parliament.
She feared the impact the publicity would have on herself and her young family.
She also makes it clear how rudely the choice was taken from her hands, most brutally by Corrections Minister David Elliott. It was Elliott who revived the issue when he mentioned it in Parliament, under the cover of parliamentary privilege.
There is a view among some in politics and the media that a reluctance to report on Raper’s alleged harassment amounted to a protection racket for Foley.
That is a conflation of two very different issues - Foley’s fitness for leadership, versus the right of a woman to control if and when she tells her own story. But it is true that for months, people in the media have known more about this story than they have been able to report.
One of the things I have been asked most often is: what exactly did Foley allegedly do? How bad was it? Can he still be a good Premier?
All of these questions come back to one key point about how much we value women, and what premium we place on their ability to walk through life unmolested by men, who put their hands on them, just because they can. It really is that stark.
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