10 hot sto­ries, in­clud­ing Meghan and Harry on tour, the new su­per-flat­ter­ing skirt length to try and is Ar­i­ana feel­ing the pres­sure?

Five months af­ter mar­ry­ing, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry have em­barked on their first ma­jor tour. But that wasn’t all: a royal baby is on the way, too. Har­riet Kean re­ports…

Grazia (UK) - - Contents -

AS MEGHAN MARKLE em­barked on her first royal tour of Aus­tralia last week, with Prince Harry, news broke that she was preg­nant with her first child. Just two days ear­lier, the cou­ple had re­port­edly shared their happy news with ‘se­lected mem­bers of the royal fam­ily’ at the wed­ding of Princess Eu­ge­nie and Jack Brooks­bank. Ac­cord­ing to a source, the an­nounce­ment ‘wreaked havoc’ with the princess who, it was widely re­ported, felt ‘up­staged’. ( The Duke and Duchess of York con­tin­ued to tweet about their daugh­ter’s wed­ding, prompt­ing spec­u­la­tion that they, too, were less than im­pressed with Meghan’s tim­ing.)

But de­spite widespread raised eye­brows (one per­son wrote on Twit­ter, ‘Sorry, Meghan did WHAT at the royal wed­ding?’), for oth­ers it was yet an­other sign that the new duchess is rewrit­ing the royal rule book. For fur­ther ev­i­dence, see news that Meghan baked ba­nana bread as a gift for Aus­tralian farm­ers and that she will give her own speech this week – rare for a new royal; it was al­most a year af­ter be­com­ing a duchess that Kate Mid­dle­ton gave her first solo speech.

For those who know Meghan, this con­fi­dence isn’t a sur­prise. Gigi Per­reau – Meghan’s drama teacher, who made head­lines when the duchess spot­ted her among the 100,000 spec­ta­tors lin­ing the route at her wed­ding in May – told Grazia 

the # metoo hash­tag is one year old. ‘ This is it,’ peo­ple pro­claimed when the move­ment started. ‘ The reck­on­ing on sex­ism that we’ve been wait­ing for since for­ever.’ But #Metoo was never go­ing to be a so­lu­tion, it merely ex­posed the sheer scale of the prob­lem.

Two sto­ries last week high­lighted just this. First, a highly crit­i­cal in­de­pen­dent in­quiry re­vealed the House of Com­mons to be a work­place in which sex­ual ha­rass­ment and bul­ly­ing have long been ‘tol­er­ated and con­cealed’. Labour MP Teresa Pearce then drew gasps from Par­lia­ment when she de­tailed how a col­league had been sex­u­ally harassed and was treated by man­age­ment as ‘the prob­lem rather than the vic­tim’.

No won­der, then, that a re­cent study con­ducted by the TUC in part­ner­ship with The Ev­ery­day Sex­ism Project found that more than half of women, ris­ing to nearly two-thirds aged 18 to 24, feel they have ex­pe­ri­enced sex­ual ha­rass­ment at work. Mean­while, the lat­est fig­ures from the Young Women’s Trust ( YWT) found that 32% of young women still don’t know how to re­port sex­ual ha­rass­ment at work – and 24% say they would be re­luc­tant to any­way for fear of los­ing their job.

Alice*, a 23-year-old ac­coun­tant at a top 20 in­ter­na­tional firm, is one such. Al­most a year ago, she was sex­u­ally harassed by a male col­league. ‘ We were in the pub hav­ing drinks with our team,’ she ex­plains, ‘and sud­denly he just reached up in­side my skirt and grabbed me. We were sur­rounded by [mostly male] co-work­ers… they all saw and did noth­ing’.

Alice quickly de­cided to leave the pub. But, she says, her col­league wasn’t fin­ished. ‘He fol­lowed me all the way home, he wouldn’t go away. Luck­ily, I was liv­ing in a block of flats with a concierge who let me in and told him to get lost.’

The in­ci­dent hap­pened on a Fri­day and Alice says she couldn’t face leav­ing her flat all week­end. ‘I re­mem­bered it all so vividly, I think I was in shock. I had some non-work friends over and they 

im­me­di­ately knew it was as­sault.’

To­day, Alice is still in her job. She no longer feels she can so­cialise with her col­leagues and the man who as­saulted her has frozen her out of of­fice con­ver­sa­tions. She has since found out that he has done the same thing to ‘at least two, pos­si­bly three other girls’. She thought about re­port­ing him but, when she spoke to ‘some­one more se­nior’ and asked for their ad­vice, they told her not to. ‘ They said I should keep quiet be­cause speak­ing out would be detri­men­tal to my ca­reer pro­gres­sion,’ she ex­plains, but points out that she’s not sure say­ing noth­ing has ex­actly been great for her ca­reer ei­ther. ‘Deep down, I know the peo­ple who saw it think it was my fault.’

The #Metoo move­ment has pro­vided Alice with some so­lace – ‘you can read about other women’s ex­pe­ri­ences’ – but, at the same time, she says the whole thing sad­dens her. ‘A guy I know made fun of it when it was on the TV and, to be hon­est, it made me feel sick. We’re try­ing to do this thing, every­one’s say­ing, “Look how great it is,” but some peo­ple are still laugh­ing at us. At the end of the day

power is money, and where there’s money peo­ple will get away with it – that’s my ex­pe­ri­ence any­way.’

Sadly, Alice’s story is far from unique. Ni­amh* works in the me­dia. She was sub­jected to a cam­paign of sex­ual ha­rass­ment from a male col­league that many of her co-work­ers dis­missed as ‘ ban­ter’. The col­league in ques­tion would make com­ments de­signed to make her feel awk­ward, ‘such as ask­ing me if I liked anal sex’. At the time, Ni­amh ex­plains that she was free­lance so she didn’t feel she could re­port what was hap­pen­ing ‘in case I could no longer get work at the com­pany’.

Ni­amh feels like what hap­pened to her fell into a grey area. ‘I wasn’t phys­i­cally harassed, but I do feel there was a cam­paign of den­i­gra­tion against me. I was made to feel so un­com­fort­able that I just didn’t feel I could stay in the job’.

What’s most shock­ing about these sto­ries is that they aren’t re­ally shock­ing at all. When it comes to sex­ual ha­rass­ment at work there’s been no great re­align­ment in of­fices around the coun­try, there’s still an at­ti­tude that ‘ boys will be boys’ – and those young women who find them­selves on the sharp end of those boys’ be­hav­iour are made to feel ex­pend­able.

Women share their sto­ries, they speak of their trauma and tell of how they worry that re­port­ing sex­ual ha­rass­ment will af­fect their ca­reer. Mean­while, some per­pe­tra­tors think ev­ery­thing is busi­ness as usual be­cause they know that, when all is said and done, they’ll be able to dis­miss it as ‘ ban­ter’ and get away with it.

L-R: the cou­ple join ‘Flu­oro Fri­day’ at Bondi; danc­ing on the beach; Meghan em­braces Luke, five; ten­derly touch­ing her stom­ach; her for­mer drama teacher, Gigi Per­reau

Global de­fi­ance: a Women’s March in New York ear­lier this year (above) and a #Metoo demo in Ber­lin last year

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