Sexual allegations used as weapon
If register of unproven misconduct accusations is introduced it could destroy lives and damage NZ society
If you read this article, you’re an idiot. Now imagine if that statement was true. Imagine if the mere fact I said something about you made it so. Or, even if it wasn’t true, people thought and acted as though it was.
That’s what the Women’s Minister, Julie Anne Genter, is proposing to do for allegations of workplace sexual misconduct. I wonder what the Men’s Minister would have to say about this?
It has become common to ostracise, criticise and demonise men (I have yet to see it happen to a woman) as a result of mere allegations of being a sexual harasser, rapist or a perpetrator of unwanted sexual acts. The trend began with the as yet unconvicted Harvey Weinstein, and continued on to the #metoo and #timesup movements.
Dr Jackie Blue, the Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner, said: “It is a human right to feel safe as you go about your business.”
What a silly idea. Feeling is something wholly internal. My actions cannot be held up to how you “feel”. I have no control over your feelings, only you do.
Let’s draw a distinction between “feeling safe” and “being safe”. Yes, you should be safe (but only to an extent). That doesn’t mean you need to feel safe. The idiocy of feeling safe means never stepping out the door, confronting any unwanted area of the world or facing up to chaos or the unknown.
The fact that feelings have become more important than intention is the reason allegations can now be used to ruin lives. And that’s what a register like the one proposed will do.
A potentially baseless accusation (or misunderstanding or misinterpretation) could lead to someone (probably a man) losing a job and forever being ostracised for an action which may have had an unintended consequence.
Genuine sexual harassment should not be tolerated. However, a tool such as an allegation of sexual misconduct is now being used to bring down people without due process of law. It has become a weapon of revenge for the likes of a jilted lover or chastised employee.
On a practical note, in order for people to get to know each other, have relationships and propagate, they must engage with others. Fear of rejection is already massive. Add to it the fear of your actions being labelled as sexual harassment, and most men will shy away from anyone they were attracted to.
A register such as this will also negatively impact on workplace environments and discourage socialising and friendships between colleagues.
The Human Rights Commission holds a register of cases of proven harassment. A register of unproven allegations is not only unnecessary, it could damage our already cocooning society.
is an expert in employment law.