A Woman’s Work

Jean McNicol writes:

Harriet Harman doesn’t make being a female MP sound very appealing. She was first elected in 1982, long before that distant nirvana of ‘fifteen, ten years ago’ described by Michael Fallon, when trying to touch up young female researchers, lobby correspondents or political activists was ‘acceptable’, just harmless ‘flirtation’. Some male MPs believe they still live in that era; while one insisted that it ‘absolutely does not constitute harassment’ to call your female assistant ‘sugar tits’ or to send her out to buy sex toys (one vibrator for your wife; one for a constituency employee), another admitted that sending ‘sexual chatter’ to a 19-year-old who wants to work for you isn’t appropriate, even though, strangely, you’ve found yourself sending such messages to more than one young woman.

(LRB 14 December 2017)

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