The job looked good on paper – serving guests at an exclusive banquet in a City of London livery hall. The pay was good, too – £10.20 an hour, the London living wage and significantly more than the £7.05 for similar jobs. For Lucy, a 19-year-old corporate catering assistant, it was far too good an opportunity to turn down.
Later, she wished she had. The extra pay did not make up for the barrage of comments and bad behaviour, including persistent and unchecked harassment by a diner who made inappropriate sexual comments, asked personal questions and propositioned her for a threesome. “At some point he was ‘complimenting’ me and telling me I looked beautiful,” Lucy said.
No, the waiter should not be subject to such a barrage.
In 2016 the property magazine Estates Gazette said the industry needed to clean up its act after prostitutes were seen to be doing “brisk business” at Mipim, a four-day networking event held in Cannes. “It wasn’t subtle and it wasn’t discreet – in fact, it could hardly have been more obvious,” the article said, pointing out that sex workers had used the event’s hashtag to attract business.
This is the opposite complaint, isn’t it? No harassment, no barrage, simply consenting adults renting out their labour.
We seem to have got to a place where repeatedly asking someone who doesn’t want sex for sex is verboten. Which seems fair enough. But we’re also saying that asking someone once who does want to have sex is also verboten?