The FT’s exposé of the sexual misconduct by men at the Presidents Club has resulted in ending the 33 -year-old charity event. But many have defended the indefensible blaming men’s sexually inappropriate behaviour on the women. Or excusing it in the name of charity. Still others, men and women, argue that ‘hen nights’ are equally sexual. Those opinions show that patriarchy has groomed society to accept the unacceptable. Sexual misconduct happens all the time. But the closure of the Presidents Club is evidence that there is a new sexual age dawning.
Beautiful And Sexy
It is worrying that some members of society think the behaviour at the Presidents Club was okay or the women at fault. The worry is that male leaders have historically groomed society to believe women have so little value and men so much more. Society has long dictated that a woman’s value is in being sexy and attractive. A message enforced by the Presidents Club.
Artista, the agents hiring the 130 young ladies, advertised for ‘Tall slim and pretty’. They instructed hostesses to wear ‘BLACK sexy shoes’ and black underwear with the skimpy tight black dresses provided. How relevant is that to waiting tables! Jess Phillips MP says the ‘women were bought as bait’. Artista paid £150 plus £25 contributory cab fare in exchange. Hostesses also had their phones confiscated and bathroom breaks timed.
Event Organisers warned the hostesses that the men ‘might be annoying’. But men groped, sexually harassed, propositioned and plied hostesses with alcohol. One man expose his penis. Guest brochures contained a notice not to sexually harass but that is not enough to divest the Organisers of an obligation to provide a safe workplace. But they did manage to ask the staff to sign non-disclosure agreements.
Artista founder Caroline Dandridge says the Presidents Club ‘raises huge amounts of money for charities’. But that cannot excuse sexual misconduct. Benevolence at women’s expense is not charity at all. So, charities are right to return the money. ‘If a rich man wants to help the poor, he should pay his taxes gladly, not dole out money at a whim’ (Clement Atlee).
But sexual misconduct is not the preserve of the rich. Men commit sexual offences everywhere. Including on public transport, at universities, at work, as well as in the home. As incredible as it seems before 1992, the law was that a man could rape his wife. And most of the offending men are not wealthy. Halsey delivers a powerful message on sexual abuse below.
Gender Inequality has normalised, trivialised or ignored sexual misconduct. Whether it is male singers blurring the consent lines or a Tory MP getting the green light to ask his secretary to buy sex toys. Or a judge passing a mere 30-day jail term for the rape of a 14-year-old girl. It all affects the value of women.
There is a huge power imbalance; physically, financially and in gender value. And dangerously it is corrupting our young. A Commons report found that ‘sexual harassment and abuse of girls is an accepted part of daily life’. So, that is why it is absolute nonsense to suggest that ‘hen nights’ are equally as sexual as the Presidents Club.
But the closure of the Presidents Club is a sign of the dawning of a new sexual age. Society is refusing to tolerate men’s tawdry behaviour and are frowning on male only settings. So, Sponsors are withdrawing sponsorship, David Walliams, Presidents Club host, is finding his book pulled from shops. And the police may also be investigating.
And we too can play a part by signing the petition to reinstate workplace sexual harassment law repealed in 2013. Section 40 of the Equality Act protected employees from sexual harassment from third parties (like the men at the Presidents Club) in the workplace. We can also write to our MP to ask why Presidents Club attendee Nadhim Zahawi, children and families minister, still has a job.
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Halsey Powerful Poem On Sexual Abuse
WARNING: SOME VIEWERS MAY FIND THE FOLLOWING FOOTAGE DISTRESSING
The Presidents Club Sting