The call to reform sexual harassment laws: is this needed or are we virtue signalling again?

The Guardian newspaper is fast becoming an echo chamber for particularly left wing, mostly feminist views. This has been going on for some time however with running themes in articles such as ‘this week in patriarchy’ we can see that this is a permanent bias that shows no signs of letting up.

I have no problem with one sided views on society, i write for a website focused only on the issues of men, what i do have a problem with is the reduction of standards at a news publication that i once greatly admired.

The article that sparked my ire this morning was discussing the need for a change in sexual harassment law as a result of increasing sexual harassment allegations being reported in the press. The article states that the public scorn heaped on the accused will change behaviour but a change in the law is required to punish the offenders.

There are two issues with this line of thinking, firstly the law that already exists covers all of the aspects required for harassment law. There are already rules in place regarding any reprisals for bringing action against people for harassment as well as employment laws covering any unfair dismissal etc. The issue with the laws as they stand is that they require evidence of wrong doing, which is often difficult to provide. Unfortunately this is always going to be the case for any law to be put in place, unless we want to go back to unqualified vigilante justice and lynchings.

The other issue is that, although behaviour is changed by the way in which the public views sexual harassment, this does not necessarily mean that the harassment will stop. Take for example the use of drugs in this and any other country. Like many others there was once a time when the use of any drug you can think of was legal. Making these substances illegal changed behaviour but did not mean that the use of them stopped. Instead all that happened was that the people using drugs learned to be more secretive about it and carry on regardless.

There is not so much a change in public opinion regarding sexual harassment, more there is a new ability to report such actions on a global scale, with regards to social media at least. What is happening is that more people are aware of this. There can be no denying that the Harvey Weinstein example flies in the face of this way of thinking, i don’t think anyone was surprised by the fact that people were offered parts in films in exchange for sex, given that this has been widely known for many decades and is featured prominently in many films and books.

There is the same way of thinking when it comes to racism, that any speech of this type must be silenced. In this case all that this means is that people with these views are harder to find. I might not know that the person living next door to me is a racist since socially he has to keep this quiet. If this was not the case and he was allowed to speak his mind socially i would be aware that he was an arsehole and avoid him as such.

The law is not the issue here, nor is ‘patriarchy’. However both of these terms play into the issue itself. The law is fine but is not administered correctly, as with any other law, to those (male or female) in positions of power. One of the things that annoys me more about the idea of ‘patriarchy’ is that it assumes that all men are in positions of power when in most cases they are as put upon as women. Tell me who has more power in this life; a poor working class man, or a rich upper class woman. As usual the dynamic in social politics is to create division between groups with common issues in favour of those  in power, in reality we are too busy arguing amongst ourselves to pay attention to what they are doing.

Ask yourself this, how many people, or examples, can you think of where knowledge of ‘social issues’ and ‘social politics’ far outweighs any knowledge that they have about political issues on a national level. The current trend is to ignore the ‘actual’ politics, or keeping tabs on those that run the country, in favour of policing ourselves and our neighbours. Ignoring the thieves and bastards at the top to persecute each other is the order of the day.

When the financial crisis hit in 2008 Iceland sacked their politicians and prosecuted the bankers in their country. They quickly became the strongest economy in the area quickly after and bounced back a great deal quicker than European countries. There were very few reports of this, if any, in the UK press. I wonder why. Why would we focus on blaming those who were actually responsible for the crisis when we could turn on each other and look at people on benefits, immigrants, or any other group that was a familiar ‘other’ to us as long as we weren’t looking at anyone with actual power?

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