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3 November 2017

It’s OK, women! Petronella Wyatt explains that being groped is “flattering”

A guide to manners in the post-Weinstein age.  

By Media Mole

Another day, another discussion about sexual harassment manners. Asked about the resignation of Michael Fallon, and the wider revelations about the way structures of power in Westminster work, Petronella Wyatt wanted to get to the heart of the matter – etiquette.

The daughter of an MP and journalist declared on Radio 4 Today – known for its hard-hitting reporting on flirting – that “part of the problem here is manners – we’ve lost sight of good manners. A lot of abuse or sexual harassment is a breach of good manners.”

After redefining the Weinstein effect for Tatler, she expanded. A lot of this whole grabbing-knees-and-sexting-teenagers thing can be explained, apparently, by gallantry. 

“Women have kind of waived their right to gallantry by saying we are the same as men,” Wyatt told the nation. On the other hand, she revealed, Wyatt’s mother was simultaneously “chased around the kitchen table by Hugh Gaitskill” and treated with gallantry, because “she believed as I believe that men and women are different”.

Mishal Husain, whose appointment to the male-dominated Today programme in 2013 caused one older male reviewer to declare she got his pulse racing”, asked if Wyatt ever experienced any harassment when she started in journalism. 

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“There were a couple of men who were a bit gropey but do you know what? I was flattered,” declared Wyatt. 

The other guest on the programme, Sophie Walker from the Women’s Equality Party, suggested that “women’s voices are being drowned out”. Wyatt immediately interrupted: “They’re not being drowned out.”

For the benefit of Wyatt, here is the Mole’s quick guide to manners vs being a sex pest.


Asking if anyone needs anything from the shops when you pop out to the newsagent at lunchtime.

Sex pest

Asking a young woman who depends on you for her job to buy you a sex toy.


Shaking someone’s hand when they stick it out to greet you in a universally-recognised gesture.

Sex pest

Grabbing a young woman’s knee at a professional meeting. 


Offering to lend a woman with cold hands your gloves.

Sex pest

Offering to warm up a woman’s cold hands by sticking them down your trousers.