Sunday Post View: There are no shades of grey in this. It is black, white and wrong

Harvey Weinstein (PA)
Harvey Weinstein (PA)

There is much we still do not know as the scandal surrounding the sexual harassment of women continues to unfold, day by day, in Scotland and around the world.

There are unspecified allegations, unexplained resignations, unknown victims and apparently unwitting culprits, a steady stream of men, baffled at the accusations levelled against them and apologising, even resigning, for things they apparently have either forgotten or did not do.

But as unconfirmed reports and carefully-worded denials litter corridors, offices, parliaments, hotel suites and studios, from Holyrood to Hollywood, there is one absolute certainty.

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There may be an awful lot of smoke but, behind it, there is an awful big fire. A fire stoked by women who, quite frankly, have had enough of it, had enough of being made to feel uncomfortable by men, had enough of being talked to, looked at, and touched in ways that are creepy at best, criminal at worst.

It is a wide spectrum, from the lower end – an unwanted hand on a woman’s back as she goes through a door, a text from a colleague that just seems a little off, more personal than professional – to the higher end, the place where physical, sexual contact is coerced, to sexual assault and rape, to the kind of allegations that, police in New York say, may well lead to Harvey Weinstein’s imminent arrest.

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However, it is how that spectrum is calibrated that is fuelling much of the fierce debate raging in offices, factories, parliaments and living rooms.

It is a debate that could not be more important and, hopefully, a debate that might change men’s attitudes and behaviour long after this frenzy is over.

Some fear that too many issues are being conflated, that clumsy flirting is being lumped in with sexual assault, that a minister touching a journalist’s knee 15 years ago is featuring in the same news reports as Weinstein, that old goats behaving foolishly in Westminster after dark are being treated like sex offenders.

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The issues around inappropriate behaviour and sexual harassment are coloured in a thousand shades of grey, they insist, not black and white. Well, they are wrong and the real issue could not be more monochromatic. If a man makes a woman feel uncomfortable, bullied, or harassed – in any way – then it is his responsibility not hers. His problem not hers.

In fact, it is now every man’s problem and every man needs to look at himself and think carefully about what they say and do around women. No, all men are not sexist but too many still turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to the sexists around them.

This could be a watershed moment when half the population, for the first time, could begin to understand, just a little, how their words and actions impact on the other half.

We should not let the moment pass.

Mandy Rhodes: Holyrood won’t be exempt from men behaving badly but I work there and don’t believe there’s a widespread culture of sleaze

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