Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s testimony and Christine Blasey Ford’s accusing him of sexual assault were the latest story in the MeToo movement. Picture: AFP
Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s testimony and Christine Blasey Ford’s accusing him of sexual assault were the latest story in the MeToo movement. Picture: AFP

My assault shows men still haven’t got MeToo message

I SPENT most of last week reporting on Bill Cosby and Brett Kavanaugh.

Know those stories?

#MeToo.

By Saturday night I was ready for a drink. My best friend invited me to a club night in Sydney. I wasn't thrilled about where I was going as it attracts a much younger crowd; I'm almost 30 and it clearly targets under 25s.

Despite this we still had a pretty great night - until a guy told me the worst joke I've heard.

I was standing at the bar when he came up.

I thought I had already shown I wasn't interested about an hour before when he tried to dance with us, and he would've been 24 years old, max.

Bill Cosby’s sentencing for sexual assault had been prominent news all last week. Picture: AP
Bill Cosby’s sentencing for sexual assault had been prominent news all last week. Picture: AP

This time he was more direct. "You're incredibly beautiful," he said.

Not a bad way to start the conversation, it made me smile. But I still wasn't interested.

I thanked him and started to walk back to my friends.

"Do you like The Simpsons?" he asked.

"Who doesn't?"

"Can I tell you a Simpsons joke?"

"Sure"

I don't remember the story to be honest, I didn't even know his name.

All I remember was the punchline as it left me pretty speechless.

No joke, the guy went from rambling about Abe Simpson to extending his arm and poking me in the vagina, then laughing as though that was the end of his joke.

What the f**k.

I'm sorry, but you don't get to do that.

"That's not funny, you just poked me in the vagina. That has nothing to do with The Simpsons. This conversation is over. Get away from me," I told him.

The sad part was the confused look on his face when his punchline didn't hit where he wanted it to.

Had he used this on women before me and wasn't told it was a horrible thing to do to someone?

Getting a drink at a nightclub turned into an unfunny joke that ended with sexual assault as the “punchline”. Picture: Supplied
Getting a drink at a nightclub turned into an unfunny joke that ended with sexual assault as the “punchline”. Picture: Supplied

After spending a week writing about the once-king of comedy being sent to jail for sexual assault, and listening to hours of the Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford testimonies, I felt I could tell this amateur comedian how he's not funny, just a sex offender.

When I found my best friend and told her what had happened she stormed off. A few minutes later she marched him up to me and forced him to apologise.

My best friend is my hero, I'm so grateful she stuck up for me. She's a lot tougher than I am.

The saddest part of it all is that, because I don't like conflict, I felt like I had to reassure him that it was OK because he was embarrassed for what he had done.

Wow, I'd just been poked in the vagina by a stranger and I felt the need to comfort him.

How f***d up is that?

Even though he was forced to apologise for his unfunny joke, I didn't feel like I had the last laugh either.

I'm not going to report it. I hope being called out on the dancefloor by my furious best friend is enough to deter this guy from doing something like that again.

Instead I'm going to get back to my job and report on it and why it's a relevant story right now.

So, this is why I'm writing this.

Also, in hindsight, I've had more time to think about Cosby and Kavanaugh and why it's possible that two high-profile cases were in the news this week, and on multiple front pages globally, but this guy still felt it was funny and fine to do what he did to me.

I had spent the days prior to meeting him thinking people would learn from Cosby being jailed - as it was the first hard-line stance on #MeToo to come full circle.

But then I realised this guy was likely too young to know who Cosby was or how big of a deal it was to see a man like him jailed.

If he did know, it's likely he just couldn't relate to him at all, couldn't draw the parallels between Cosby's depraved offending and his own apparent belief it was OK to grope a woman without consent.

Same goes for Kavanaugh. And Harvey Weinstein. And Kevin Spacey.

What does a 24-year-old (assuming he is that old) have in common with them apart from being a man?

While it's great to see the #MeToo movement calling this behaviour out, I do fear we have a problem when it comes to delivering the "keep your hands to yourself" message to people who are younger.

I think when it comes to young men there's an attitude of "yeah, nah it won't happen to me. I'm not rich and famous."

It's also possible they think they're too young to face consequences as "young and drunk" and "too young to know better" is still accepted as an excuse, even if we don't want to admit it.

There's even a chance this guy was rebelling against #MeToo and his bad joke was his way of saying to me that he didn't give a toss about it.

Those guys are out there, they always have been. The young misogynists, most likely influenced by old misogynists who feel they're now being stifled by #MeToo's rise.

Since the #MeToo movement began, their hatred and disrespect of women seems to be more out in the open.

Regardless, whatever the reason for the poor taste "Simpsons joke", it made me realise that while I am in the loop as a reporter working on #MeToo stories, and can see the social change it is sparking, we shouldn't be ignoring the fact that there is an audience out there these stories are not speaking to.

And this is the very men these stories should be speaking to the most; badly-behaving young men who will likely grow into badly-behaving old men.

And if it's the case that these stories are being heard and having the reverse effect, then we need to look at why.

It's not a case of the joke isn't funny anymore - it never was.

Natasha Christian is a digital journalist and producer for News Corp.



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