Madness of This War against Men; Yes, Dirty Old Men Who Grope Women Are Vile. but the Hysteria over the Presidents Club Reflects a Growing Hatred of Men and Betrays Feminism, Common Sense - and the REAL Victims of Sexual Abuse Says SARAH VINE in This Trenchantly Personal Essay

Daily Mail (London), January 27, 2018 | Go to article overview

Madness of This War against Men; Yes, Dirty Old Men Who Grope Women Are Vile. but the Hysteria over the Presidents Club Reflects a Growing Hatred of Men and Betrays Feminism, Common Sense - and the REAL Victims of Sexual Abuse Says SARAH VINE in This Trenchantly Personal Essay


WE'RE not even at the end of January and 2018 is beginning to grate. It's not the crisis in the NHS, or the flu epidemic, or even that Marks & Spencer have been selling cauliflower steaks at PS2 a pop or Sainsbury's wrapping individual coconuts in plastic.

It's that somewhere between the inauguration of Donald Trump and the downfall of Harvey Weinstein, the entire Western world seems to have lost the plot.

We now live in a world where a convicted sexual predator -- taxi driver John Worboys, who police estimate may have drugged and raped up to 200 women -- gets paroled after serving just nine years in jail while an organisation that has raised upwards of PS20million for charity is forced to close down because a few of its members got drunk at a party and misbehaved.

I speak, of course, of The Presidents Club, the latest #MeToo-inspired scandal to rock the so-called patriarchal elite.

You know the story. A group of young women agree (for a PS150 fee) to be hostesses for the night at a male-only bash at The Dorchester hotel in London attended by the very wealthy.

There, some of the women -- who included prostitutes -- were groped, fondled and propositioned. This was exposed by an outraged female undercover reporter for the Financial Times, triggering widespread condemnation in the media and Parliament, with high-profile resignations of some who attended and the Attorney General suggesting there could be criminal prosecutions.

Let's get one thing out of the way: dirty old men who sexually abuse young women are contemptible. And clearly some of these women were upset and shamefully treated. But as far as we know no one was seriously attacked or even hurt.

The dinner does seem to have been unpleasantly louche. But I would argue that -- as is so common nowadays -- the reaction has been disproportionate.

AND leaving aside the rights and wrongs of male-only clubs -- personally I'm always delighted to be excluded, since the last thing I want to spend my evenings doing is listening to blokes comparing their bonus packages -- what mystifies me is why the women concerned didn't get the measure of what was on the cards. Put it this way: when the job description includes sexy knickers, see-through dresses and high heels, it's safe to assume you're not being hired to hand out fondant fancies at a vicar's tea party. And when someone offers to pay you cash to entertain 360 middle-aged men on a boozy night off from their wives and families, you would either have to be very naive or very stupid not to expect a certain amount of boorish behaviour.

What happened between some guests and these young women at The Dorchester is not acceptable. But then nor is the behaviour of women with male strippers at hen nights very edifying, yet it provokes guffaws rather than outrage.

The point is neither men nor women behaving in this way constitutes the crime of the century. And unless an actual crime is reported, it is not a matter for the police or a parliamentary emergency, despite Labour's Jess Phillips's melodramatic tabling of an urgent question in the Commons.

Nor is it a reason to review the laws on men-only clubs and organisations by revisiting the Equality Act, as the chair of the Commons equality committee Maria Miller and former Labour minister Yvette Cooper have suggested. Men have been trying it on with women -- and vice versa -- since the beginning of time and I doubt you'll ever devise a satisfactory law to prevent it.

But wait. Can't you? Because this is what it's starting to feel like, all this #MeToo hysteria and smelling-salts feminism.

It feels less like legitimate concern on behalf of the strong for the weak, and more like a vendetta against men in general. Less a positive affirmation of the rights of women and more an attempt to eradicate one sex completely. I may be the last of a dying breed, but I like men. …

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Madness of This War against Men; Yes, Dirty Old Men Who Grope Women Are Vile. but the Hysteria over the Presidents Club Reflects a Growing Hatred of Men and Betrays Feminism, Common Sense - and the REAL Victims of Sexual Abuse Says SARAH VINE in This Trenchantly Personal Essay
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