DO you believe her? 

It's a question that's been circulating yet again recently in light of several high profile work place sexual assault allegations. Do you believe her? Women usually don't have to ask. 

We know the drill, we know the signs, the playbook is so often similar. 
They get you in a room on your own, on the premise of talking about something weighty, serious.

You are trying to give a good, professional account of yourself. The mood shifts. You're wrong footed. Then the move is made. It may be so subtle, so lightly said, so fleeting, that you wonder if you heard correctly.

You try to think swiftly of how best to respond. Too sharp and you risk being told you've simply misunderstood. Too soft and you risk inviting more, and worse. Too hard and you risk inspiring anger. 

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There's one line in the Daisy Goodwin first person piece that's gone largely overlooked but packs such a punch it's worth lingering over.

Ms Goodwin's recent testimony felled the London mayoral candidate Daniel Korski. She wrote of how the former Downing Street spad had invited her to a meeting 10 years ago at No 10 to discuss a potential documentary treatment where, she alleges, her host groped her.

Mr Korski, on resigning from the race for mayor, strenuously denied any such claims.

Reflecting on her experience, Ms Goodwin says, in the passing, "having worked for the BBC in the Eighties I knew how to deal with gropers". On one hand, so desperately depressing.

On the other, so desperately relatable and so infuriatingly enduring. Too many of us who have worked in offices in the 90s and the 00s know how to deal with gropers - but we shouldn't.

We emphatically shouldn't. And the fact so many of us are so utterly casual about it shows how endemic the problem. 

One of the elements of the Korski situation is its rapid turnover. From Daisy Goodwin going public to Daniel Korski withdrawing his candidacy was a roughly 48-hour run.

Was this, ran the dilemma, a victory for #MeToo, the global campaign against sexual harassment? Or an injustice, the judge and jury of public opinion? 

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Opinions don't run neatly along men vs women lines either. The columnist Sarah Vine, reflecting on Daisy Goodwin's claims about Mr Korski, said that she, too, had been groped at No 10.

She alleged that comedian Harry Enfield, in response to another man commenting on her "rather magnificent" breasts, asked if he could "have a go" before jiggling them up and down.

Ms Vine mulled the incident over before deciding, "to file it under 'someone having a bit of fun at my expense'."

There is a #MeToo divide whereby some women believe the tackling of sexual assault is the responsibility of the individual; a question of mettle and of setting firm boundaries. On the other side, a belief that expansive and compassionate solidarity is the main weapon in the fight. 

Ms Goodwin, now 61, says she spoke out with younger women in mind: she has the status and security to speak with less fear of repercussion. 

Former Tory MP David Warburton is another high profile target of #MeToo, although he has the benefit of due process. His defence against allegations of sexual misconduct made by three women to the Sunday Times was, you might say, lively.

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Denying the alleged sexual assaults, he admitted to the Mail on Sunday that he'd made an enthusiastic night of it by overindulging in Japanese whisky, which prompted him to then overindulge in a bit of blow.

Ah, the classic string of mishaps defence. Well, you see, m'lud, the whisky was of the incredibly potent kind, and drinking it caused me to slip and fall into a pile of cocaine, which just so happened to line up exactly at the level of my nose. As I happened to be breathing in. #MeToot 

Mr Warburton was suspended from the Conservative party last April following the allegations, which an inquiry by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards recently upheld.

This week, however, the House of Commons Independent Expert Panel (IEP) upheld an appeal against that judgement and has now ordered a reinvestigation.

This is no judgement on the sexual misconduct allegations themselves, but rather on the quality of the investigation into the allegations. 

Mr Warburton will presumably be delighted at the development. He recently made the tired and predicable claim that the #MeToo movement has "gone too far". 

This is the classic lament of the unreconstructed chap who simply can't fathom how to conduct himself now he's being expected to meet women as equals. Let's face it, if #MeToo had gone too far then Pestminster wouldn't be such a useful portmanteau. 

The week Warburton cried about women crying wolf was the week Winnie Ewing died. She had spoken often of the sexism and cat calls and unwanted comments she endured as a young, female politician coming up the ranks. What a marvellous legacy to a woman of her stature if the women following behind her no longer had to deal with that rot. 

The ultimate aim of #MeToo is, of course, to put a stop to all this - the groping, the sexual assaults, the harassment. Sometimes justice moves swiftly, sometimes there is a legal wrangling, sometimes a workplace probe.

The men hopefully reflect and halt their behaviour.

On the other end of the spectrum to Mr Korski comes the comedian and celebrity chef Hardeep Singh Kohli. The Times newspaper claims to have complaints from more than two dozen women regarding Mr Kohli's conduct.

Very few women in the Scottish arts and media scene would be surprised. 
Mr Kohli, in response to previous allegations in 2020, apologised for his conduct.

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Against this fresh round he has declined to comment. But the allegations of groping and harassing women span more than a decade.

He has been repeatedly named and yet the allegations continue. 

If there is to be any victory for #MeToo here then it will be a slow burn.

In the meantime, in public discussions of these latest cases, some of the old tropes have circled. On the radio and on social media I've heard and seen the question "Do you believe her?" asked repeatedly in terms of Daisy Goodwin. 

Do you believe her? It asks: is she credible? What is the function of asking? Is it a reasonable query in defence of a man's honour? Or does it imply the woman is lying? Does it sit neutrally between both parties? No.

It is such a frustrating question. 

Harvey Weinstein is arguable the biggest beast to be hunted and maimed by the #MeToo pack. The predator, predated, was vicious in his self-defence. In court in 2020 his lawyers went aggressively after one of his accusers, Jessica Mann, insisting she was abusing Weinstein in pursuit of career advancement.

"After court was adjourned," the New York Times reported, Ms Mann "could be heard screaming behind a closed door."

The idea that women sit around, making up these stories, is so egregious. Of course, not every allegation is true but false reporting is very rare. The courage it takes to make a complaint and follow it through, the risk for the complainer, must never be lost sight of. 

So to the women who speak out: you are appreciated. You are believed. 

Every report is vital because we know how to deal with gropers and yet my dear hope is for a generation of women who have no idea how to at all.