In days gone by such behaviour might not even have been considered newsworthy and some will now consider it wowserish to report on it.

Yet, by his resignation, Mr Broad has acknowledged that he made a huge mistake. It is not just his hypocrisy in posing as a champion of traditional marriage or his possible misuse of public funds.

The element in the debate that has leapt to the fore this year is that society no longer tolerates the view of women taken from 1970s James Bond films, which Mr Broad’s pick-up lines betrayed.

This new understanding has become established in most other workplaces and institutions but the political parties, Liberal and National but also to some extent Labor, seem to be cocooned from it.

It may well be that the world of the theatre is another such cocoon. Actor Yael Stone’s description of colleague Geoffrey Rush’s behaviour towards her on ABC TV on Monday also showed two fundamentally different views of how powerful men should behave to young women.

What Mr Rush saw as “spirited enthusiasm”, Ms Stone saw as sexual pestering which made her feel unsafe. Given Mr Rush’s status in the industry, she felt she could not tell him how unpleasantly he was behaving.

Mr Broad and others are not unusual in their arrested development. A lot of men are slow to accept the new balance of the sexes and rebuild their personalities accordingly or at least change their outward behaviour. Many react angrily when what they previously saw as an expression of romance is now seen as serious harassment or untoward conduct.

Perhaps back in the 1970s, when 007 could expect women to dissolve at his touch, only feminist radicals insisted that women must have control of their bodies. But in the current environment, these attitudes are not acceptable for a public figure (unless perhaps they are the president of the United States).

These debates about the limits of flirting and romance are of course only one aspect of women’s fight for equality. It is also about access to health services and equal pay and the choice of a Governor-General.

But the issue is extremely powerful because it speaks to a daily physical mechanism of oppression of women. Men cannot avoid coming to terms with it.



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