what happens when you publicly name someone who harassed you
Outside a racing-green pub one night in 2015, a man pulled me into him, kissed me and put his hands on me. It was unwanted contact. He had just declined my offer of friendship: “I have enough mates; I would rather fuck you,” he said, right before his body touched mine. I kept quiet about it, filing it away as an unpleasant interaction – a transgression neither forgiven nor forgotten, but not worthy of anyone else’s attention.
Last Thursday, I decided to tell this story publicly, naming him on Twitter. Other women have told me, by private message and WhatsApp, that he has behaved similarly towards them. That’s why I acted. His predatory behaviour was an open secret in the media industry, in much the same way Harvey Weinstein was untouchable by rumour until recently. This man issued a generic apology on his Twitter for “sub-optimal” behaviour and then deleted his account. I received a private message – “Kate I’m sorry” – which I have taken as an acknowledgment of his actions. He has since lost his jobs at GQ and political newsletter The Spoon.
The reactions to my story, particularly from men, have been so utterly predictable they could be straight from an instruction manual on how to wilfully misinterpret, malign or belittle a woman who dares to speak about a man’s transgression. I have been accused of lying or doing this for publicity or attention. Several men on Twitter have lectured me about my decision to drink alcohol in the presence of someone I didn’t know that well. One said, and I quote: “He can’t be held responsible for your decision to meet him.” I should say now that women so rarely lie about their experiences of harassment and assault it is statistically negligible. It is not a publicity stunt, an act of greed or a selfish ploy. I am exhausted that I even have to point that out and, frankly, I don’t know what sort of perverse glory these people imagine women like me expect to grab from speaking out.
Read more at The Pool.