Australia’s media and entertainment industries are bracing for an expose (names and all) of scores of men alleged to have been involved in the sexual abuse of hundreds of women in the workplace.
Leading the attack is former Network Ten newsreader Tracey Spicer.
Now a freelance writer, speaker, media trainer and broadcaster through her two media companies, Spicer Communications and Outspoken Women, Spicer has enlisted the help up to 400 women who say they were victims of assault while working in the media and entertainment industries.
Spicer has put together a team of police, legal representatives, witnesses and victims all ready to go on the record. Many of the sexual assault stories outlined to Spicer allegedly involve the same 40 offenders.
Spicer, a broadcast journalist with twenty years experience, has for the past few years focused on advocacy work on behalf of female victims of sexism.
Her incredible TEDX talk is called The Lady Stripped Bare and she continued to speak out against workplace misogyny in her book The Good Girl Stripped Bare. It’s no wonder these 400 women are trusting her with their stories.
Tracey has two children – Taj who is 12 and Grace who is 11.
“And this is the main reason why we do it, isn’t it,” Spicer told 9Honey. Australia’s leading women’s network covering news, opinion, homes, food, fitness, travel, parenting, fashion and beauty.
“Aside from protecting women in the workforce now, we want to ensure our children are safe when they go into the workforce, particularly our daughters,” said Spicer. She says by the time her daughter enters the workforce, she doesn’t want her to have to go through similar experiences Spicer was forced to endure as a young journalist.
“I don’t want her to have to go in there and put up with the groping, the grabbing, the threats of rape that go on in workplaces that go on when there is a huge power disparity between male bosses and younger female employees,” she said.
Spicer’s quest to bring perpetrators of sexual abuse and assault in the Australia media and entertainment industries to justice began during a visit to a police station. She was there researching a story on cyberbullying.
“An officer who worked with victims of sexual assault brought up the Harvey Weinstein scandal, saying she was surprised a similar outcry against perpetrators of sexual abuse hadn’t happened in the Australian entertainment and media industries,” she said.
The officer told Spicer to tell anyone who reached out to her that there is no statute of limitations for the vast majority of these cases. “If something happened 30 or 40 years ago, tell them to go to their local police station and report it,” Spicer was told in what she describes as a real “light bulb moment” for her.
“A lot of the time these things happened years ago and get swept under the carpet because that was the workplace culture at the time. But can I tell you that the same people who were offending in workplaces 30 or 40 years ago are still doing it in media workplaces now, and I’ve got countless examples of that.”
Despite the hundreds of cases she and her team are already dealing with, Spicer says they are keen for more. “Even if it happened all those years ago, please come to me or report it to the police or report it to your union or report it to your workplace because this person, it’s likely they are still offending now,” she said.
Of the 400 victims, Spicer says they are aged from anywhere in their twenties to their sixties. Some were hair and makeup artists. Others were producers, personal assistants, executive assistants and young journalists.
When it comes to the historic cases, Spicer says the victims told her the behaviour was so pervasive they thought it was “normal” and they “just got used to it.”
There are many more victims of workplace sexual assault and abuse who are yet to come forward, and they may never do.
For those accusing Spicer of a witch-hunt which will result in men feeling as though they can’t even ask a female colleague out on a date, the broadcast journalist explains why they have nothing to fear.
“We’re not trying to restrict human behaviour. We’re trying to restrict criminal behaviour,” she told 9Honey.
“What we’re talking about are the kind of things that really do lead into the narrative that leads to sexual assault of women. The demeaning treatment of women, the pinging of the bra strap, the tickling under the arms that ends up being a groping of the breasts…these are the sorts of stories I hear an awful lot.”
In many of the cases that have been reported to Spicer, the most serious ones involve rape.
“There have been dozens of allegations of rape,” she said. “It doesn’t get more serious than this.”