There have been many Australian feminists who have wanted to import the #MeToo movement into Australia. The most prominent one is former newsreader Tracey Spicer who vowed she would out 40 sexual predators in the entertainment industry and urged other women to contact her with their own #MeToo stories.
Spicer and the other Australian #MeToo story hunters have not got off to a good start. Out of the three Australian entertainment figures who have been accused of sexual harassment, two Craig McLachlan and Geoffrey Rush have launched defamation action against the publications that reported the allegations. Spicer is well short of the 40 she vowed to out.
Spicer herself has a history of viewing all men as natural sexual predators. She once wrote that she did not want men to sit next to her children on plane flights because of the risk they could abuse them. She also labelled Tony Abbott a creep on Twitter when she feel for a fake photo showing him looking down the cleavage of former Liberal MP Fiona Scott.
This history has not stopped her launching a new organisation to end sexual harassment, intimidation and abuse in Australian workplaces called NOW. It’s slogan is: #MeToo is the movement. NOW is the moment. Spicer has claimed over 1500 have contacted her to share their own #MeToo stories, which for somebody of Spicer’s prominence isn’t that many and then one can rightly question how many of those stories are creditable.
Spicer’s first goal with NOW is to ask for money, $250,000 is the target, she has received $30,000 so far. If you donate over $100 you a get a NOW t-shirt. NOW plans to use the money to connect survivors to counseling and legal support and to fund research and education programs, and to work with government and industries to develop solutions.
The promotional video for NOW begins by quoting an Australian Bureau of Statistics survey which claimed that one in two women and one in four men have been sexually harassed in their lifetime (harassment includes inappropriate comments about the person’s body or sex life). Despite stating that men can be victims of sexual harassment the promotional video only features female Australian celebrities. It also claims that incidents of sexual harassment has increased over the past decade.
We should all be very wary about NOW and its plans, organisations such as this need new issues to campaign on and new victims to champion to remain relevant and to keep the money coming in. NOW is not going to in 10 years time claim that sexual harassment has been eradicated and declare mission accomplished.
We should also be mindful of the history of feminists to fabricate stories of harassment and assault and resort to the demonization of all men and the portrayal of women as helpless victims. We should also recall the shameful Australian Human Rights Commission Report last year that claimed that sexual harassment and assault was an epidemic at Australian universities. It had a flawed survey sample and incidents of harassment included things as innocuous as staring or asking someone on a date.
Spicer claims that NOW will be non-partisan but it will most likely favour of the policies of parties such as Labor and Greens who promise more government money to feminist causes and will help peddle the feminist victim narrative. You can also imagine employers desperate to not be accused of being a sexist workplace signing up their employees to NOW workshop sessions.
Let us hope that NOW itself does not actually create victims by ruining the careers of innocent men who get accused of sexual harassment in the workplace. We already have enough feminist organisations in Australia only too eager to demonize men and claim we live in a rape culture. But with a founder like Spicer with her history it is certainly a cause for concern.