‘Honey’ calls down a woman’s wrath

Not climate conversation, but assuredly the climate of conversation

According to the Herald:

Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority boss Roger Sutton said: “Hugs, jokes … I do do those things, and I’ve hurt somebody with that behaviour and I’m very, very sorry about that.”

Another man bullied into apologising for being a man.

No women were harmed in the fabrication of this crime

There is precisely no evidence of hurt except the woman’s complaint (and did anyone investigate why she complained)? Probably not, since there’s as much evidence to doubt her version of events as there is of her hurt. That is, none whatsoever. For example the perpetrator did not use his fists, there was no knife, no sign of harmful substances and of course no injuries.

The culprit could not predict he would offend because the existence of this offence depends upon the making of a complaint, which happens later. It was guesswork as there is no way of knowing how a woman thinks before an ‘offence’ occurs. Because the complaint used the word “sexual” the crime was created upon the instant (smoke revealing a fire) and the “defendant” was required to prove his innocence, rather than the complainant prove his guilt.

His wife, Jo, is struggling to comprehend how her husband’s “hugs and jokes” have led to him quitting over a sexual harassment claim.

She wants to understand how this woman, entirely unharmed, gained sudden power of veto over her family’s mortgage payments.

He said: “I have called women ‘honey’ and ‘sweetie’, and that is wrong.”

Why is it wrong? That’s not wrong. He’s been bullied into saying it. That’s a confession obtained under duress. We don’t have to believe it.

An apology and the “hurt” goes away

The woman who complained still works for Cera. State Services Commissioner Mr Iain Rennie met her today to apologise for the “hurt and distress” she experienced.

Isn’t that lovely? It’s all fixed. Just a simple apology to make her feel better. So why does Mr Sutton resign? Why has his resignation been accepted?

Anyway. Let us hope this is a satisfactory outcome for her and she is once again as happy as she was before. Because that’s the important thing.

Educated men and women took a complaint of hurt feelings so seriously they stood aside to watch a man resign his job. It’s repugnant. The managers’ ideas of reality are seriously screwed, they’re gutless and most of them must hold strange views indeed about the place of women next to men.

Because women are not so weak and helpless as this scandal might imply. For years women (I should say a few women) have said, “I don’t need protecting. I’ll open the door myself. I don’t need men.” Well, ok. They’re that tough, they’re obviously not worried about some hurt feelings—because, for certain, if they refuse protection they’re going to find themselves exposed to hurt feelings now and again, it’s a hard world. But it’s unreasonable suddenly to demand the reinstatement of protection just because they’re upset. Yet that’s apparently what the law allows.

Is it the law? What law am I talking about? Thou shalt not commit “sexual harassment”? Is it a law and does it include the words “sweetie” and “hug”?

You can upset your staff just by insisting they properly do their job, but that’s acceptable. Upset is all right, but sexual upset is unacceptable, so we need to be precise about the boundaries. What precisely is the difference? Not sure on that one—hey, check with the women, they’ll soon let you know. Boom!

I question the reason in this disturbing episode. The charge is serious but no harm has been done. Sutton allegedly caused some undefined “hurt” which is clearly not physical but emotional hurt. You cannot see it or treat it. No independent proof of its existence is possible, never mind its severity. You have only the complainant’s word that it exists, and she has reason to confirm it, if only to avoid a charge of making a false complaint. Finally, the “hurt” went away (we may presume) after a mere apology from a third party, though again there is no evidence that it has gone or where it went.

We’re talking the emperor’s clothes here, people—a wraith, a dream, a figment of our over-fearful imagination.

The decision to take offence

The woman had only to allege sexual harassment to create an instant crime and then cite the words used (sweetie, your honour) and the acts committed (a warm hug, your honour) to get an instant ‘conviction.’ Nobody examines, nay, nor even acknowledges, the woman’s decision to take offence. Nobody says to her: “You’re being weak, grow up. You’re stronger than this.” She might have been annoyed by Sutton’s condescending or patronising manner, even offended by the innocent touching, but getting revenge for it like this is too easy and the punishment most certainly doesn’t fit the crime.

It’s comedic that this crime consisted of using affectionate words like “sweetie” and “honey” and giving hugs. But were they salaciously done? What was the tone or manner of speech? We all know you can say sinister words in a playful tone and playful words in a sinister tone; or truly playful can be taken as salacious; tone makes a difference in our communication, but it can still be taken the wrong way. They are dangerous times for men when tone is ignored and conviction depends upon the woman’s judgement alone that she is “offended.” In other words, her decision to be offended.

So here’s a family newly admitted to the ranks of the financially nervous because of shallow, self-serving allegations from a woman who the record reflects was entirely unharmed, whose hurt went away at a mere apology, who retains her position and remains anonymous.

On the face of it, this is dangerously stupid.

Perhaps we’ll see a full review of the facts of the case, which might justify the story we’ve heard, could help us understand it and might predict, dare I suggest, our own futures as men, though I warrant this never sees the inside of a courtroom.

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16 Thoughts on “‘Honey’ calls down a woman’s wrath

  1. According to the Herald at: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=11360487

    Former communications adviser Tina Nixon questioned whether “people really think that a hug was what it was all about,” blasting the official investigation into accusations of sexual harassment by former chief executive Roger Sutton as “incompetent”.

    “I for one have no confidence in their ability to conduct any unbiased inquiry after today,” said Ms Nixon.

    She is asking us to read between the lines and see more than a hug. It’s the same tactic the complainant used in claiming “sexual harassment.” All that’s necessary is to claim you feel hurt. You don’t need evidence.

  2. I wonder, if after the first ‘honey’ or ‘sweetie’ the woman said ‘no more of that talk thanks’.

    But by the way, when I buy my petrol the female cashier says ‘thanks honey’. I’m sure she says it to everybody. A very cheerful young lady. It doesn’t do any harm what so ever. Instead it brings cheer and a smile. And that’s a good thing.

    • Exactly, Robin. We’re told very little about the matter, but that’s the natural thing to do. Assertive people of either gender have no problem doing that.

      Your example of the cashier points to a bias favouring females who use this “sexist” language, much as blacks might call each other “nigger” but whites must not.

    • Andy on 18/11/2014 at 9:22 pm said:

      Or certain former politicians who refer to us as “white mother*****s” without impunity.

    • Yes, that’s right. Although in my estimation you mean to refer to “a” former politician, you need one more asterisk and you probably intend to say “with” impunity. But that’s just me, really. 😉

    • Andy on 18/11/2014 at 11:08 pm said:

      thanks for the grammatical corrections, which I always appreciate

  3. Oh, I bet you do! Hey, when are you in Auckland again?

    • Andy on 19/11/2014 at 7:44 am said:

      I don’t know when I am in auckland next. Currently in Aberdeen, Scotland, enjoying the dark and rain.
      I did manage to go to the all blacks vs Scotland rugby test at Murrayfield though, which was fantastic. There were even a few Kiwis there!

    • BobD on 19/11/2014 at 10:36 am said:

      Well, whenever you’re near, there are some jugs of beer with our names on them.

    • Echoed, seconded.

  4. Alexander+K on 19/11/2014 at 8:32 am said:

    Some forty years ago, on my way home from attending a late tutorial at Massey University on the Manawatu campus, I opened a large and heavy external door for a young lady, who snarled ‘That’s a sexist and nasty action!’ at my customary politeness. Startled, I let the door go; the door brushed her leg and she snarled at me ‘You meant to do that, you horrible bastard!’
    I then noticed that she was wearing a large lapel button that said
    ‘A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle’. I fled the scene, as they say.
    The attitude of extreme and nasty Feminism has been around for a while.

  5. Magoo on 19/11/2014 at 6:14 pm said:

    You might have to eat a bit of humble pie over this one RT:


    • Thanks, Magoo!

      This is what’s known as “further information” which necessitates no humble pie, as you suggest, since my comments were based on the information then available.

      I anticipated a change of view on the release of more information when I said: “Perhaps we’ll see a full review of the facts of the case, which might justify the story we’ve heard, [and] could help us understand it.”

      The ineptness of the managers proves greater even than: “The managers’ ideas of reality are seriously screwed” and their lack of courage has been magnified by this new information.

      I’m content to change my view, as I strive always to match it to the facts. It’s evident from these revelations that Sutton is a fool and deserves his fate.

  6. Andy on 20/11/2014 at 12:59 am said:

    Has anyone asked about CERA and its performance in the Christchurch rebuild?
    Obviously, making offensive hugs and wearing offensive shirts is MUCH more important, possibly the biggest issue facing humanity right now

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