ZELLA COMPTON: Men need new lessons in treating women with respect

Harvey Weinstein
Harvey Weinstein

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I wrote about sexual assault a while ago. Who was it that time who’d been caught with their sticky fingers everywhere?

Now we’re mired in Weinstein’s aftermath. And the questions are coming about why women didn’t speak out, why men aren’t speaking out and how this could have happened.

It’s the same stuff all over again and will be the same next time and the time after.

While we’re all wringing our hands about who should have said what and when and why they didn’t, we’re forgetting that – unfortunately and grossly – this is the world that women live in.

Take a look at social media. There’s a ‘me too’ movement, where those who’ve been assaulted simply post those two words, to show us all the extent of the problem.

That’s all I can see – from women, and a few men too. And it’s not just sexual assault, it’s verbal harassment too.

Last week I was in a security queue. During that process I had to remove my belt. The male told me what I had to do then called to his mate that my trousers were going to fall down, and that his mate had to ‘get in there’ and help me get dressed.

Is this sexual assault? No, as he didn’t ‘get in there’, but, let’s be clear, it’s not what he said to anyone else around me.

But then, it was a group of men behind me in the queue. Was the presumption that they wouldn’t want help with their belts? (By the way, there was no chance that this was a genuine offer, my trousers weren’t going anywhere.)

The sexual comments are not as bad as they once were for me, but I don’t know if that’s a change in society, or more likely the change in my age, and girth, and hair.

And not all men do this, that’s not what I am saying. Not all men verbally insinuate, or brush-up close, or touch, or grab. Not all men do this, but the fact is far too many do.

Sometimes I wonder if that’s without realising how gross their comments are, perhaps thinking their words are supportive. But honestly men, very few women want sexual affirmation, or to be touched in any way, or shown an appendage of a random person.

It’s time, yet again, to talk to, and between, men, and boys, and make clear what is acceptable and more clearly, what is not. To learn the difference between behaviour learned from a Carry On film, and what the real world is, and how to behave toward women and girls. With respect.

THE RUG THAT HAS LASTED THREE DECADES

IKEA has been with us for 30 years. I remember when it first arrived in Croydon and my then boyfriend – now husband – and I took a bus to see what all the fuss was about (what romance).

The one-way system, those round chocolates in a tube, the tea lights and the overall experience wowed us.

We bought a rug and it still sits on our living room floor. A little hairier from the dog, a little grubbier from the takeaways and a little bit of a miracle that it lasted so long.

Cheap and cheerful IKEA may be, but some of it’s pretty good quality.

And best of all? The only self-assembly we had to do was unroll it when we got home.

HOW CAN A BAN ON SUGAR WORK?

Tam Fry, chairman of the national obesity forum, is quoted in The Guardian as saying: ‘Sugar is the new tobacco – ban it.’

I love it, and the sentiments leading to it, that of protecting the population and the NHS from the effects of obesity.

But I wonder how effective any calls can be, given that tobacco’s still around, still being sold and bought, still contributing to the deaths of many. And, given that sugar is as intertwined with the economy as tobacco, I fail to see how a ban can happen.

Unless, and go with me on this one, we ban plastic packaging, which then dynamically affects sugar products, and we all take to our allotments.

Hmm, a complex issue.