The world has come a long way after #MeToo, but apparently not far enough. This week, the men-only President’s Club held its annual charity event at London’s Dorchester Hotel, where some undercover reporters from the Financial Times hired as hostesses for the event later described an evening full of sexual harassment.
On the guest list were many powerful, influential men of England. The attendees hold significant roles in politics, business and entertainment. Among those were prominent Conservative party politician Nadhim Zahawi and CEO Tim Steiner. Host, radio and TV personality Jonny Gould began the dinner with “Welcome to the most un-P.C. event of the year” and it turned out to be exactly that and even more.
There were 130 hostesses. Even before it started, the dress code became ultra-specific and what can only be described as scanty. They were provided with revealing short, black skirts and were told to wear heels and matching underwear. In addition, they were required to sign a five-page non-disclosure agreement (NDA) right before the dinner without being able to read it or take a copy with them and were told to hand over their phones.
As the night began, women were paraded across the stage, but this wasn’t the worse they would face. They faced lewd comments, hand-holding that led to forcible lap sitting and groping. During the night, a hostess had an attendee reveal his penis. In the end, they were practically set up for unacceptable, lascivious behavior from the attendees while being used and treated as pieces of meat.
Luckily, with the immense media coverage, the scandal hasn’t gone without backlash. Some of the men who attended the event resigned this week. President’s Club chairman David Meller, who helped organize the event, resigned from his position in the Department of Education. Many organizations who received funding from the President’s Club has cut ties and Great Ormond Street Hospital even went as far as returning donations.
The effects are everlasting. Women speaking up has brought more attention to sexism and sexual harassment in one of the many all men clubs spanning across Europe. Now, the attorney general is urging the women involved to speak up, although they are bound by NDAs similar to those Harvey Weinstein used. Small efforts can lead to larger revolutions.
Photo: Kat Smith