Joanna said it best by ignoring lewd buffoon
SHE has made her loathing known for the ‘Aga Saga’ tag for her bestselling novels, but Joanna Trollope has stayed silent about a speech at the London Book Fair where a prominent literary agent said he’d like to snog her. ‘I often see her in Kensington and think I’d like to give her a snog”, said Tony Mulliken by way of introducing the 74-yearold author during the panel discussion he was chairing.
Now either Mr Mulliken is of that thankfully dying breed of ladies’ men who are so full of themselves that they believe no greater compliment can be paid to the fairer sex than a publicly-proclaimed male eagerness to kiss them.
The other explanation is that he was overcome with nerves and blurted out the first thing that came into his head.
Either way he must have come across as an utter buffoon. In the looks department, he’s no George Clooney, who is perhaps the only man alive who could get away with such a crass and gratuitous comment.
He managed to draw attention to his own modest physical charms and in a room of sophisticated booklovers, cut a pathetic contrast to the ice-cool Joanna Trollope, who didn’t so much as acknowledge his ‘compliment’ with a withering smile.
In normal times, Mr Mulliken’s mortification would be his punishment and his cringey attempt to flatter Ms Trollope would be forgotten by all except him.
Thanks to the hysteria created by #MeToo however, it’s no longer enough for the shamefaced Mr Mullikens of this world to be taught a lesson about unconscious sexism and let get on with their lives. They must be named, shamed and impaled on the spear of political correctness, as if they were guilty of vile acts of sex abuse rather than a silly chauvinistic urge to make an elderly woman feel desirable.
So no surprises then that at the book event, someone duly obliged. Taking offence on Joanna Trollope’s behalf, writer Clare Mackintosh detonated a series of outraged posts on social media.
She made a formal complaint to the management and told The Bookseller that in the #MeToo era, the comment was ‘grossly inappropriate’. Gross is a word that is so frequently flung about in the fevered atmosphere of #MeToo that it has almost become meaningless. Behaviour is always ‘grossly offensive’, whether it’s a pat on the backside or a violent sexual assault.
A wolf whistle has become so gross that it can confer victimhood on women.
Presenter Laura Whitmore has a long list of occasions where she felt, as she says, ‘violated’.
A stranger felt her leg in a nightclub last year; when she was 16, a bloke slapped her on the bottom in a club and so on.
Of course no one should have to endure unwanted attention from sexpests, even in nightclubs where a certain amount may be expected given the number of drunken sleazy men and, indeed, women who will try it on with anybody.
But being groped or slapped on the backside is hardly comparable to the allegations of rape and sexual assault against Harvey Weinstein, and to pretend otherwise risks trivialising those who have suffered the latter.
To be fair to the Strictly Come Dancing star, she’s not claiming they are – but she is guilty of using #MeToo as cover for rehashing her unhappy history with the British tabloids who, she claims, exploit her as ‘blonde bait in a sequinned dress’. Whitmore wants to be taken seriously, rather than feted as a glamourpuss. Perhaps her agent can guide her in this respect. That is part of their job, after all.
The original focus of #MeToo on sexual harassment and rape has been diluted enough by starlets hopping onto the bandwagon complaining about being groped and fondled and casting themselves as victims. Let’s not allow it be hijacked further by showbiz stars with even less to complain about.
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