Even an educated, white Kiwi woman who belongs to the top 1 per cent of income earners hasn't escaped sexual abuse.

Media have reported in the past few days about the "Me too" phenomenon where women all over the world have expressed on social media whether they have ever been sexually harassed by men.

Social media can certainly be uselessly mind draining at times, but here is where it can work - constant repetition creates a louder voice for a group struggling to be heard.

But the short message of the "me too" campaign can be left unclear. More often than not the perpetrators don't actually think that they are doing anything wrong and struggle to understand what the fuss is about.


So to make things clear, I am a 41-year old woman who has two university degrees. I have worked for the Government and a multinational company in a regional role in charge of Asia Pacific. I now run two small companies.

I am married to a wonderful husband and have two beautiful, smart children. I belong to the 1 per cent of wealthy income earners of New Zealand. I am white. I am in a powerful position in the society I live in.

Despite this I have had intercourse with a person of power against my will. I have been harassed by numerous boys and men on the playground, at schools, on streets, at bars and nightclubs, at workplaces, at school fundraising events. I've been harassed by friends' spouses.

Every time I go to a professional or official meeting with a man my first instinct is to detect how they are interacting with me so I know whether I want to be left alone with them in a room, whether I want to be faced with a situation where I have to laugh off their uncomfortable comments.

I remember the relief when I received my first proper job, travelled overseas and met my new boss and within 10 minutes of talking with him realised that he was a good man and that I could relax and do my job.

In that same job I was given a task of looking after a famous visiting artist who, after realising I was not taking any notice of his sexual advances, publicly humiliated me in a meeting with the whole office staff present. The list of examples carries on.

The campaign - where victims write the words
The campaign - where victims write the words "me too" on their social media - is sweeping the globe in the wake of Harvey Weinstein's sexual assault revelations. Photo / AP

And this is just one story of many. I know so many women who have exactly the same stories. It is everyday life to us women, even to women of power. You can imagine what life is like for the women living in poverty and being controlled by men to survive.

At least I can buy myself the luxury of being harassed by well-educated men in comfortable settings. But no matter where it happens and what level the abuse is, it is part of the same phenomenon.

I would like to end this piece with a note about good men. Through high school and university 90 per cent of my closest friends were male. I partied with them, I played cards with them, I spent evenings watching TV with them on the couch eating pizza and I got drunk beyond my mind with them and talked about life and love. This despite the fact that I had a boyfriend.

Not once have I ever been made uncomfortable by these men. Not once did I need to worry being left alone with them in a flat or bar or sharing a bed. Or it didn't matter what I was wearing! And I have no doubt that things could have happened if I had indicated that to be what I wanted, but since I didn't, I never was made to feel bad about it.

So there are many good men out there and I have been very lucky to have had so many of them in my life. These are the men who are good leaders, friends, fathers and husbands. These are the men who make the right choices.

We need more of these men and then we can call our society equal.

What you can do if you're being harassed at work

  • If you feel safe to do so, deal with it directly with the person concerned. Let them know you are not comfortable with what they are doing or saying.

  • Make a complaint to a designated person in your workplace, manager, health and safety representative or your union rep.

  • Make a complaint to the Human Rights Commission within 12 months of the event.

  • ​Make a complaint to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment within three months of the event.

  • ​Talk to colleagues, friends or organisations like HELP which support people in these circumstances.