March 26th, 2010


On watching the Hey Dad Scandal evolve

For those not in Australia, during the 80s and into the early 90s we had a sitcom called Hey Dad. It was um ... funny in the 80s? Pre-Friends and Seinfeld and whatever. Last week, Sarah Monahan, who played the youngest daughter on this show, and was 6 when she began on the show, told local women's mag A Woman's Day that a man who worked on that show was inappropriate with her - touching her and exposing himself to her. And that everyone knew, that the executives on the show knew, that it continued occurring till she left (when I think she was 12) and that they brought in a chaperone for the young girl who replaced her on that show.

Since she made this claim in the magazine, she has appeared on the current affairs show A Current Affair where they interviewed her in her home, now in Texas, and she spoke more on the matter. Still not naming the man. However, other women had come forward since the feature in the magazine and had named the man as actor Robert Hughes. This has snowballed this week. Another Actor, Ben Oxenbould appeared on the show and spoke of how he had witnessed Hughes' behaviour, specifically in touching another young female actor guest starring on the show. And how he had gone into "panic mode" and taken the child out of the situation and then spoken both to Hughes and to an executive on the show, who told him "let this be a lesson to you in professionalism." Last night actor Simone Buchanan appeared on the show with Monahan to speak both of her own experience of being touched by Hughes without giving him permission and also of how she was Monahan's confidante and protector on the show. A Current Affair has stated that more women and more evidence than they have presented has come to light and are urging everyone to report to the police. The NSW police are waiting for an official complain before they can begin investigating. Robert Hughes has stated that this is now in the hands of his defamation lawyers. Watching the actors from Hey Dad speak out, it is very very clear that they are survivors of something horrible. And that keeping their secret has taken a significant toll on them.

I've been watching this evolve and personally reacting to it in a strong way. I've blogged here before about this sort of subject matter. I flocked a post after my last counselling session in which I spent the hour talking about my reactions to the issues that have arisen in our own community and I mentioned how it had been a long time since I'd left a session feeling worse than when I went in.

I think there are specific and key triggers for me. One of them came from Monahan's own words "It's not like he raped me. But what he did was wrong." And again last night when Buchanan said, after telling how Hughes had driven her home one time after work and tried to feel her up, that she was a woman and so was better equipped (than a child) to fend him off. And that after that she steered clear of him because she knew something of him and that he was "dodgy".

This whole matter is very upsetting. And there are a lot of threads of it that are disturbing and distressing. One issue for me is the one that I think I have elsewhere - the one where everyone knows something about someone and noone does anything about it. I've been trying to write this post for days and have been hesitant because when I was trying to think of an example in my own life, I came up with too many. My personal experience is that there are people out there who think they have the right to touch you in any way they want. And maybe it's not even that they think they have the right, to quote someone else, "I wanted to touch her, so I did." It angers me that there are people out there who wander around so self engrossed and driven by their own sexual gratification that they behave any way they want. Anything is ok as long as they get their kicks. I mean, what working situation is ok with bringing sexual acts into the daily grind? Where is it ok to just lean over and fondle someone, anyone, whilst you're being paid to work (except, obviously in the sex industry). Firstly, it's revolting that whilst he was working and being paid to work, he was thinking about, and acting on, his own sexual urges.

But the other part of this for me that is very distressing is that everyone knew and noone did anything about it - hiring a chaperone instead of firing someone else is not really the appropriate solution. And I hope there is hell to pay for the executive who not only turned a blind eye but threatened people into not speaking out. But beyond that, I think the bit that is hardest for me is the bit where the only thing you can do in situations like these is to avoid the person in question. The only thing you can do is to not put yourself in that situation again.

And it's distressing to me because that is how I have to live - that is part of what it means for me to be a woman and a member of society, at the same time. Collapse )