ABC reporter Ashleigh Raper believes she benefited and suffered from the MeToo movement, claiming she and many other women were “collateral damage” in the ousting of high profile men.
Hosting an event and panel discussion in Sydney for Future Women, Raper spoke publicly for the first time after she was unmasked as the reporter at the centre of an incident leading to the resignation of former NSW State Labor Leader Luke Foley in October 2018, although he denies the allegations.
“This is an event I never wanted to be invited to,” she said. “Yet here I am… I know I’m here because I’m Ashleigh Raper, the ABC reporter who was groped. And that fact sits very uncomfortably with me.
“Many of you know me because a man put his hand down the back of my dress. Eighteen months later another man took it upon himself to talk about it in State Parliament. And then another man decided to talk about it in Federal Parliament,” she said. “On top of that, a male journalist pursued me for months. In the end, I decided to stand up. I didn’t explicitly say ‘Me Too’, but I did say ‘I want it to stop’. At that moment, how I was perceived publicly was altered. And as favourably as my statement was received, it also handed victory to three out of those four men.”
“We were collateral damage, and that’s the unintended price we paid for MeToo.”
Raper said the movement meant her statement was believed instantly. In fact, she was believed before she even spoke out. But the movement also led to stories – like her own – being taken advantage of by the media and politicians, with seemingly little regard for the woman. She pointed to Geoffrey Rush’s defamation case against The Daily Telegraph, which brought actress Eryn-Jean Norvill unwillingly into the spotlight.
“I often wonder whether my story – the story that I wanted to keep private – was made public because of the MeToo era. Politicians and their staffers were able to justify pushing my story by poking their comments in concern for a woman in a MeToo era when basically it was for their own base political purposes,” she said.
“It provided an irresistible opportunity of one upmanship, in the pursuit of a high profile scalp… We were collateral damage, and that’s the unintended price we paid for MeToo.”
Before hosting a panel discussion on the movement’s impact in Australia with sex discrimination commissioner Kate Jenkins, Sydney Morning Herald investigative reporter Kate McClymont, former Labor MP Emma Husar and Ashurt partner Robert Todd, Raper said she is now “very happy” she spoke up.
However there was another reason she spoke out, which she didn’t include in her original statement.
“I have a daughter, Ava. She’s three,” Raper said. “And I hope what I did made a difference for her.”
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