Now retired Guardian writer Michael White should have known better than to use the sexual harassment of Diane Abbott for laughs. Instead, it was left to Twitter users to put him right. And they did.
do you really see this incident as being more about da voting intentions than Davis's unwanted advances? Shame on you sir
— 🇪🇺 Preno 🇪🇺 (@preno67) February 10, 2017
I'm so very tired of being told my whole life that this stuff is 'just a joke, cheer up love'. I wish I could retire from it.
— Lidija (@ametonym) February 10, 2017
Sexual harassment is okay if you think the person is unpleasant? What? Are? You? Suggesting?
— YourDadWantsToFave (@BertLoch) February 10, 2017
Has any random man ever tried to stick his tongue in your mouth when you're in a pub? If one had you'd know it's not funny.
— Two Flames 🇵🇸 (@msjenniferjames) February 11, 2017
The Secretary of State for Brexit is alleged to have sexually harassed Home Secretary Diane Abbott. This incident reportedly took place in a House of Commons bar, after Wednesday night’s vote to trigger Article 50 and leave the European Union. But rather than meeting it with outrage, the media has spun the incident as a case of comical Benny Hill shenanigans.
The incident between Diane Abbott and David Davis
The incident allegedly took place in a popular parliamentary watering hole called Strangers’ bar. Eye witnesses claim Davis leaned in to kiss Abbott, who recoiled and told him to “fuck off”. Davis then walked off laughing.
For those who might be sitting on the fence, let us be clear: this is what sexual harassment looks like. Many women have endured moments like this. In fact, a recent study found one in every two women in the UK has been sexually harassed in the workplace. And we know there is nothing funny about it.
The media disagreed.
The Express decided to recreate the incident as David Davis winning a cheeky victory over ‘sourpuss’ Diane Abbott.
The Daily Mail followed the same pattern, exclaiming in mock horror that:
Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott launched a four-letter tirade at Brexit minister David Davis as he tried to kiss her in the Commons bar after she helped vote through the Article 50 bill.
The Sun, of course, also reliably stuck the boot in.
The Spectator, meanwhile, managed to turn it into a Mills and Boon tale of thwarted romance.
This paved the way for all sorts of knuckle-draggers to come out of the woodwork with their views on the incident. None of which were particularly kind to Abbott.
She never had a headache for #Jeremy, allegedly
— Sean Callaghan (@keanespirit) February 8, 2017
I reckon Diane Abbott was asking for it.
— Chob l'Artiste (@ChobDux) February 9, 2017
Not everybody is a knuckle-dragging idiot
Imagine being Diane Abbott in that moment. You’ve had a hell of a day, then some smug creep comes over and tries to plant a kiss on you in front of your colleagues and the press. Then those gleeful spectators turn around and make you the asshole.
But thankfully, not everybody is a knuckle-dragging idiot. Those who have empathy for a woman being sexually harassed in her place of work came out swinging on her behalf.
Apparently David Davis tried to kiss Diane Abbott in the Stranger's Bar yesterday. This is sexual harassment; if true he must be disciplined
— Natalie Jester (@NatalieJester) February 9, 2017
shouldn't that be "Diane Abbott resilient after attempted sexual assault by Brexit Minister in Commons Bar"?
— Katrina Cockburn (@KatCockburn) February 9, 2017
Zero tolerance for sexual harassment should not be predicated on the ethnicity, religion, or political views of the person being harassed. It shouldn’t matter whether we love them, like them, or hate them. It is never funny. And a person acting to reclaim their physical space from harassing behaviour is not cute, funny, or rude. It is their most basic right.
– According to guidance by Citizen’s Advice, sexual harassment can include:
- sexual comments or jokes
- physical behaviour, including unwelcome sexual advances, touching and various forms of sexual assault
- displaying pictures, photos or drawings of a sexual nature
- sending emails with a sexual content
– If you or someone you know is experiencing this behaviour in the workplace, please advise them to follow the Citizen’s Advice guidance. They are not alone, and it is vital to hold those responsible to account.
We’re a thorn in the side of the establishment, but we can’t do it without your help
Your fight is our fight. But as many of you will know, speaking truth to power has never been easy, especially for a small, independent media outlet such as the Canary. We have weathered many attempts to silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media. Now more than ever, we need your support.
We don’t have fancy offices, and our entire staff works remotely. Almost all of our income is spent on paying the people who make the Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our team and enables us to continue to do what we do: disrupt power, and amplify people.
But we can’t do this without you. So please, if you appreciate our work, can you help us continue the fight?