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Me, too

As the Weinstein affair and all it's ramifications have played out, I've been thinking a lot about my own conduct and behaviour down the years. It's human nature to think of oneself as the good guy, we all mythologise our own lives with our selves in a sympathetic light. But I'm sure, thinking back, that my actions and attitudes haven't always been the best. I am a chef, I work in a kitchen, places that run on banter, some of it sexual, some of it aggressive. Whilst I know I've never assaulted anyone, or pushed unwelcome advances, I've certainly been present when senior colleagues have said things which have made female members of staff uncomfortable (and done nothing beyond giving them grief about it), and I've certainly worked in one particular restaurant where a serial sexual predator worked.

Many years ago I had a waitress at the restaurant I worked at turn up on my doorstep in tears in the middle of the night. One of the floor managers had tried it on, how forcefully I'll never know, but that's irrelevant. Even now I'm moderating my language (I just deleted an "I suppose" before "that's irrelevant" - of course it's irrelevant). At the time I confronted the manager in question, and went and told the owner. Nothing happened. Her word against his. This manager had form for this, there had been various complaints from female members of staff down the years. These days, being older and maybe a little wiser, I'd have encouraged her to go to the police. These days I'd quit my job if nothing happened. At the time I thought my actions were sufficient. I now realise that they were not. In this way, the culture pervades. It's gone long beyond time for change. It's time for everyone to examine themselves and their consciences. All over the world, millions of stories like this are happening every day.

These days, I'm 40. I'm a head chef. What I say goes in my kitchen, so it's easy to ensure that my younger chefs behave themselves, easy to ensure that the waitresses can feel comfortable and happy in their work, easy to do the right thing. In the past, it wasn't as easy, and I'm sure that too often I went with the flow when I should have fought harder. I shouldn't have accepted the accepted wisdom that it was just how things were. None of us should.

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