Sexist leering isn’t quite assault
The Daily Telegraph
The overreaction to the Presidents Club scandal shows that we need to distinguish between sexual assault and ordinary boorishness, said Judith Woods. The elite club has been rightly pilloried for holding a men-only charity auction at which pretty hostesses were made to “dress like dolly birds” and plied with alcohol. “What is this, the ’70s?” Two journalists went undercover as hostesses at the event and exposed how the men—CEOs, tycoons, film producers, even lords—were “acting like deluded extras in a Benny Hill video and grabbing at women young enough to be their daughters.” It’s disgusting behavior, but it does not rise to the level of Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, an accused serial workplace rapist. I will not label “a load of drunken, handsy a---holes reeking of entitlement in their dinner jackets” as sexual predators. Nor are the women victims, because they were told what to expect and willingly donned the required sexy underwear and skimpy outfits. Don’t get me wrong: I’m glad the club has been disbanded in ignominy. But to return the $3 million raised at the auction (lots included a course of plastic surgery to “add spice to your wife”), as children’s hospitals and other charities say they will do, is ridiculous. “There are ways to make an example of these Neanderthal boors, but penalizing ill children” isn’t a good one.