‘Average white man in entitled comment shocker’ should’ve been the headline to Giles Coren’s extremely misguided column about work place ‘flirting’.
It’s a tale as old as time.
But it’s just a bit of fun! What’s the harm? Isn’t it flattering! A bit of office banter…
Except it’s time that this tale was archived alongside Harvey Weinstein’s career.
In Gile’s column for this Saturday’s Times, he has a sudden awakening as to why he should no longer send kisses in a work email or how he should neglect to smile at a woman walking towards him on the street. For Giles, this post Weinstein world is mind-boggling. Can’t anyone be friendly any more?
What’s more boggling for Giles is the struggle he now has on his hands between his aging self and the image he still clings on to of his previously charming self. He wonders whether his advancing age, burgeoning wrinkles and onset of grey hair now repulses women. Insinuating that when he was a whippersnapper, women in the office or on the street were snapping to whip him up at a suggestive glance or an errant compliment.
Giles also goes on to state that he is sure as any man can be, that a woman has only ever been touched or kissed by him consensually. Isn’t that a nice little caveat he provides himself with? Surely, if you’re sure as a man can be that a women is willing, she must be. Never mind those women who say hello to be polite because of the fear of aggression if she doesn’t return a greeting. Or those who smile whilst receiving endless compliments that are getting increasingly lewd out of fear of not appearing grateful. Or those women, as Giles himself puts it, who accept sex out of politeness – not wanting it but not wanting to be rude.
Does he really think that his foppish, British, white, posh-man demeanour makes that sentence any less disgusting? Is he really ‘sure’ that all of those women were fully consensual in their tolerance of his behaviour? How can he be? How can anyone be?
Or is Giles just like many men out there walking the planet in 2017 who just don’t GET IT?
Because, Giles, giving consent to be flirted with in the workplace isn’t something a woman should have to give. In an email with returned xxs, in a smile or even when relenting to sex. Because women should be treated exactly how a fellow man should be treated in a professional atmosphere AND EVEN on the street. Crazy idea, I know.
However, men like Giles, Weinstein and the millions on the end of the #MeToo hashtag do not have this understanding inbuilt, as they continually like to prove and this is exactly why you should be sacked ‘over xxs’.
Weinstein proved it in how business meetings with women were conducted versus how those with men were.
My old boss who drew pictures of me in sexual situations on my first day at a new job, ‘as a bit of banter’, proved it.
Giles proves this by his gross copy in which he plays the victim by suggesting he’ll have to holster his beguiling ways ‘now’ because he wouldn’t want to appear Fagin-like. What he also proves, like many others have, is the sexual harassment and assault is STILL downplayed and minimised. Because he makes the suggestion that at some point, the women he encountered liked it.
And isn’t that just the assailant’s alibi? ‘But they liked it.’, ‘But they wanted it.’ ‘But they didn’t say no.’
Coren’s column shows us a wider problem. It highlights that there are STILL people out there who are all too ready to play the ‘just harmless’ card in a game where the hands are very harmful indeed.
Coren shows us he is part of the #NotAllMen brigade of mansplainers who want us wimmins to know that they DON’T MEAN IT, they’re JUST HAVING FUN and that they DON’T MEAN TO OFFEND.
He shows us, alongside that brigade that despite all of the hashtags, personal stories, movements and worldwide news stories that #NOTALLMEN get just what their behaviour, in the workplace and in the wider world, means.
So here’s a handy guide for you to use at work and in public Giles…
Women do not need your xxs, your compliments, your smiles, your flirtatious glances, your flattery and your help with career progression.
I’m sorry to be that killjoy but until there’s an understanding by men that just their being can be frightening, offensive and unwanted and until they get that consent to behave in a flirtatious or suggestive manner must be OBVIOUSLY given, that they need to keep their xxs out of their emails and their bathrobes out of their meetings.