Macklin / Sex hysteria reveals rage among women

“Perhaps it’s time to step back from the Twitter hothouse before relations between the sexes get so fraught that we don’t know whether we’re Arthur or Martha,” writes columnist ROBERT MACKLIN

Harvey Weinstein has a lot to answer for.

Robert Macklin

Robert Macklin.

First and foremost, he’s been a serial offender in pressing himself on vulnerable women and demanding sex for jobs in their very competitive profession. And there are accusations of rape that must go before the courts and could send him to jail. Few will shed a tear.

Then there are the other creeps in other professions whose sexual harassing has been brought to light in the “me-too” campaign and who have paid the price by being sacked and humiliated. No problem there.

The Don Burke accusations suggest there are plenty of offenders in Australia, too, who could – and should – be outed and shamed. And if they’ve committed crimes then, of course, they too should pay the price.

But then, it seems, a wave of hysteria has enveloped the twittersphere and accusations are flying everywhere. I was particularly struck by the British female journalist on the ABC’s “7.30” program who had lunch with the Defence Secretary Michael Fallon (with a couple of glasses of wine) and when they returned to Parliament House, he attempted to “kiss me on the lips” in this public place. She reported him and he resigned.

Fallon is also accused of “repeatedly touching the leg” of another female journalist, so he probably deserved to be dobbed in. But there’s no suggestion that he was in a position of power over these ladies. In fact, one of them told him she’d “punch him in the face” if he didn’t let go of her knee… and that fixed him.

Perhaps the time has come to step back a little from the Twitter hothouse before relations between the sexes get so fraught that we don’t know whether we’re Arthur or Martha. We are, after all, part of the animal kingdom imbued (whether we like it or not) with the instinct to mate and to spread the seed.

Various groups within the species have different ways to regulate the process, from the restrictive Middle East to the “anything goes” attitudes of, say, San Francisco. But overwhelmingly, the males of our species compete for favours and they use all kinds of stratagems to secure their goal. Some use their wealth; others their wit; still others work on their bodies. Each has his successes and failures, but in every case man is the pursuer.

The females on the other hand use their looks, their intelligence and their personalities to attract suitors and retain mates. And provided there’s mutual respect – which starts and finishes in the home – it seems to work pretty well.

But the Weinstein hysteria has revealed a rage and a resentment among some women that seems to want the roles reversed. It’s part of a pattern that has seen some really good progress in sport, for example, with women’s cricket and footy getting much more recognition (I’m a devotee of both). But in tennis, I reckon, it’s gone over the top when women are paid the same as men but only play three sets instead of five.

That said, it’s entirely possible that this role reversal could work. One of our distant relatives, the Bonobos have tried it and it seems to work well for them. Our system is more like the male-oriented chimpanzees’ and leaves much to be desired, particularly when the top chimp is Donald J Trump.

Meantime, perhaps we might learn from the Weinstein scandal that respect – and a sense of humour – are far preferable to what used to be called “the battle of the sexes”.

robert@robertmacklin.com

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