What business do we have in the bedrooms of state?

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No-one else knew for sure what went on in that room, but the two MPs who were there.She provided contraception, and no-one said no. But consent, along with the power relationship between the two of them, remained at issue.How could that be?Well, if you watched the scene I just described from the BBC series "The Politician's Husband" (now available on Netflix Canada), you might start to understand.In the story, a husband and wife who are both British Members of Parliament cooperate in a failed leadership spill to install the cabinet minister husband as party leader and Prime Minister. After it fizzles, and to secure his position and sow dissent amongst the opposition, the surviving PM instead elevates the wife to cabinet, thereby changing the couple's power relationship at home.Everywhere but in the bedroom, that is ( http://www.radiotimes.com/news/2013-05-09/the-politicians-husband-rape-is-too-serious-to-be-used-as-a-mere-dramatic-ploy ).Meanwhile, we don't know any more about what went on in the real-life hotel room in Ottawa, and no-one does but the two real-life Canadian Members of Parliament who were in it.Yet that hasn't stopped the commentariat from drawing some unbelievably stereotyped conclusions. In under a month we've gone from #BelieveHer and #BeenRapedNeverReported to "bedroom escapades" and "ruined reputations", in many cases from the very same tweeters.Suddenly everyone has forgotten that if your sister enters a hotel room, she doesn't consent to everything that happens next.Or that if your daughter rightly takes precautions, she still doesn't consent to everything that might be done to her afterwards.Or if it hurt so badly your mother had trouble sitting without pain for three days ( http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2014/11/25/ndp-harassment-allegations-massimo-pacetti_n_6216184.html ), any consent on her part would likely not be 'free, informed and enthusiastic", nor would it likely have been on-going.And both people in the room would know that. Of course they would.We don't know what happened there, but the two who do have made some comments. The married one issued a blanket denial, while the other told a complicated enough story that it included some details anyone in her shoes would realize could be used against her. What possible interest could she have in doing so if she were lying?That complicated story might sound unfamiliar to you, but sadly it's all too common to people who've worked in rape crisis centres. Truth is stranger than fiction. And a higher standard of believability has been put on one MP than it has on the other.From there, we've moved through a series of absolutes: (i) holding a surprise 130-S news conference by the Leader was the only way to handle the problem, (ii) the only acceptable way for the woman to respond was to lay a criminal complaint, (iii) if she had wanted privacy before the details of her story were leaked to the media by others from a meeting in which she was promised confidentiality, it's somehow inconsistent that she would voluntarily relinquish that privacy afterwards in response.The Federal Government's own policy on dealing with Harassment in the workplace is well worth the read (http://www.tbs-sct.gc.ca/gui/gahrp-gaprh-eng.asp ), and one passage of many sticks out for me: Clear, timely communication with all involved parties is important throughout the process. The involved parties should be kept informed of developments.During the resolution process, all parties should be treated fairly and objectively.The complainant and respondent should also be asked what type of support and assistance they require throughout the process and be provided with options of appropriate resources. We don't know what happened in that room. But what we do know is that a couple of young female MPs dared to believe they were the equals of their peers and could expect to be treated that way, given the position they were elected to. Instead, they were objectified and treated as sexual objects by their colleagues, and then shamed and vilified and scorned afterwards by complete strangers.It's hard not to believe we've failed them, along with the other sisters, daughters and mothers who now will be far less likely to come forward in the future, after watching this entire sorry spectacle.Alice Funke is the publisher of PunditsGuide.ca. She worked as a legislative aide on Parliament Hill in the 1980s and 1990s.