A few years ago, I was in San Lorenzo (a once-groovy London Italian restaurant) a trois with two much older (and once-groovy) men.
When one of them excused himself, the other – a Spectator columnist – to my slight shock grabbed my head and darted his lizard tongue in my mouth, in full view of other diners.
I only bring this up because, for many days now in the wake of the Weinstein allegations, women all over the world (and also men) have shared their own revelations using the ‘me too’ hashtag.
Olympic gymnast McKayla Maroney posted testimony of ‘disgusting’ sexual abuse starting aged just 13
Many of the tweets are cathartic. Many are hard to read. A few have even led to immediate reprisals. ‘My biological father started abusing me @ 5 yrs old took my virginity @14 continued abuse until he committed suicide in front of me,’ was one.
An Olympic gymnast, McKayla Maroney, has posted harrowing testimony online of years of ‘disgusting’ sexual abuse by her own named team coach, starting from the age of just 13.
One high-profile male writer on a men’s magazine was sacked last week after a female journalist – who said she was inspired by the ‘me too’ movement – revealed he’d told her: ‘I’ve got enough mates, I’d rather f*** you,’ and ‘forced’ himself on her outside a pub.
Harvey Weinstein is facing accusations of various forms of sexual assault from 40 women and counting
I’ve been asking myself. Did what happened in San Lorenzo make me a victim, too? Should I tweet my story out with the #metoo hashtag? Of course not. I didn’t feel like a victim – therefore I wasn’t a victim. In fact, I’d forgotten all about it until I read the said hack’s take on Harvey Weinstein and it flashed back to me.
I also accept this is down to temperament. I laughed it off (there’s no goat like an old goat). The man held no power over my life, my future, so I could. What happened to me was therefore very different to what happened to the 40 women and counting who’ve accused Weinstein of various forms of sexual assault.
He was in a position of patronage over them, and abused that position, repeatedly… rapaciously. The English actress Romola Garai revealed last week: ‘I had to go to his hotel room in the Savoy and he answered the door in his bathrobe. I was only 18. I felt violated by it.’ The producer is accused of raping several others.
In the midst of this maelstrom, I’ve been bemused by hearing several older women wonder out loud why they’ve never been ‘hit on’. I don’t know how to respond to that. One even consulted a psychic who told her, ‘you have an aura that puts men off’.
But I’ve had many, many more anxious men (including the journalist Giles Coren in print this weekend) saying they’ve lost any sense of what’s appropriate behaviour – and what could turn out to be career-ending offence.
To which I can only say this, from my limited experience.
If the #metoo movement tells us anything, it’s that it’s inadvisable to try to rank assaults in a hierarchy of severity.
Penny Lancaster cried on Loose Women recalling the time she was date raped when she was a teenage virgin
Better to accept that, if something feels like an unwelcome assault to someone, it is an unwelcome assault, whether it’s an attempted snog, a clumsy lunge, or something far more serious.
Poor Penny Lancaster, Mrs Rod Stewart, last week revealed that when she was a teenage virgin and model she was date raped. She has every right to cry on Loose Women. Romola Garai has every right to say she felt violated by the appearance of Harvey in his bathrobe.
And I have every right to announce that I bear no hard feelings to the journalist about his sudden surprise sally in San Lorenzo some years ago.
In fact, he was rather rude about me in his column some months ago – and I minded that far more.
This time she forgot her skirt
Actress Sharon Stone has recreated her famous turn from her hit film Basic Instinct – but at a charity lunch, pictured.
Twenty five years ago, she forgot her pants. This time she lost her skirt.
Not perhaps the outfit I’d have chosen to talk about Women’s Brain Health, but then I live in Brexit Britain not Beverly Hills like Shazza.
Sharon Stone appeared to speak to a panel of women at the Gagosian Art Gallery in Beverly Hills, California
- Just returned from Northern Ireland where anxiety about Brexit is peaking. Nobody wants to leave. Nobody wants a hard border, or a border along the Irish Sea, as both could herald The Troubles 2.0. They want the status quo, with north and south in the EU. ‘We’re an island off an island,’ a man in Belfast told me. ‘So we have to be part of something.’ You said it, Paddy!
- Shout out to the BBC’s Simon McCoy, who reacted on air to the intel that the Cambridges’ third child is due in April with the weary words, ‘I’m not sure how much news this really is…’ No doubt Auntie will punish him come April by making him do long hours ‘Lindo-ing’ (keeping the veteran newsman on baby watch outside the private Lindo wing of St Mary’s Paddington while nothing happens for days on end). Keep going, Simon. I know for some No 3 will be bigger than springtime. But someone’s gotta speak for those bored by all things Royal baby.
- What did we learn then from the Hillary Clinton roadshow? Um. Erm. Oh yes. After sitting through Donald Trump’s inauguration with the Clintons in the rain, George W Bush wondered out loud, ‘That was some weird s**t’. Now Dubya has made a powerful speech against isolationism and the rise in bigotry in the US. Who’d a thunk it. If Dubya is now the ranking US statesman on the world stage, it means Trump’s getting something (OK, everything) wrong.