Not all non-consensual touching is evil

Why praise Nadal’s spontaneous kiss but baulk at ScoMo’s rejected handshake?

Michael Scammell


As #MeToo patient zero Harvey Weinstein continues to hobble his way into a New York courtroom to defend himself against serious sexual-assault charges, down under, at the Australian Open tennis, a 33-year-old male tennis player kissed a 13-year-old ball girl on the cheek – without consent – after one of his power forehands caused the ball to hit her in the side of the head.

Of course, Spanish tennis great Rafael Nadal’s impromptu apology kiss was nothing like the alleged actions of Weinstein. But it did remind us what can be lost when we overly proscribe the rules of human interaction and try to enforce hyper-regulated notions of consent, particularly in the wake of the Weinstein-inspired #MeToo movement.

The joy of the Nadal kiss is that, in an unexpected moment, it brought together a number of very human responses which we can all identify with, and yet which many seem to want to eradicate from society. Nadal showed spontaneous compassion and kindness in an era where there are growing calls to manage more and more human interaction through contracts, laws and tribunals. He displayed a kind of old-school chivalry in comforting a hurt young woman. Thankfully, the tactile expressiveness of Mediterranean culture hasn’t yet given itself over to the scowling neurotic political correctness of the Anglo-Saxon world.

Clearly, there is a public appetite for this kind of spontaneity. In recent years, Australian TV has largely toed the line on the new feminism. But many of the same channels have given favourable coverage to the Nadal kiss, with some even interviewing the delighted ballgirl.

The Nadal kiss offered a perfect contrast to another memorable well-intentioned but poorly received moment of non-consensual touching. In January, when prime minister Scott Morrison was visiting bushfire victims, some members of the public did not take kindly to his presence. At one point, Morrison was filmed trying to shake the hand of a female bushfire victim after she initially refused to accept his condolences.

While the rejected prime ministerial handshake was understandably highlighted by the media, some with gender-relations axes to grind went the extra yard. Social media was awash with claims of ‘physical assault, ‘common assault’ and even ‘sexual assault’.

These attacks may be effective in the short term in helping the left regain some morale after losing last year’s apparently unlosable federal election. But in the long run, trivialising sexual assault does no one any favours.

ScoMo is not the first prime minister to be labelled a misogynist, either. In 2012, then prime minister Julia Gillard gave a speech in parliament denouncing Tony Abbott, leader of the opposition at the time, as a sexist and misogynist ‘every day, in every way’. The ‘m’ word was regularly thrown around by commentators, often to attack Abbott’s blokey persona.

The use of gender issues for partisan attacks is not going anywhere anytime soon. Three days after the Nadal kiss moment, author and men’s rights advocate Bettina Arndt won an Australia Day Award to howls of criticism from feminist commentators. Arndt’s prominent role in the 1970s, fighting for women’s sexual freedoms in a then very conservative Australia, was sadly overlooked. Clearly, the gender wars hurt men and women alike.

Michael Scammell is a writer based in Melbourne.

Picture by: YouTube.

To enquire about republishing spiked’s content, a right to reply or to request a correction, please contact the managing editor, Viv Regan.


Neil McCaughan

31st January 2020 at 10:26 am

Was there any reason for the bad manners of the woman trying to avoid shaking her Prime Minister’ hand? Irrational, rude and aggressive behaviour from women is commonly tolerated today. And it shouldn’t be.

Jerry Owen

31st January 2020 at 2:32 pm

The whole thing was staged.

Tim Hare

31st January 2020 at 9:07 pm

The fact that he is her Prime Minister does not give him any more rights to a handshake. People shake hands as a greeting or an acknowledgement of some agreement. She was not happy to see him nor did she agree with his handling of the bushfire crisis. The only honest response was to mirror that with her body language. It was not irrational or rude or aggressive. It was an honest indication of how she felt towards him. There were others who refused to shake his hand as well for the same reasons.

R Rodd

30th January 2020 at 4:00 pm

If you aren’t good at reading people it is best to never touch anyone without their permission.

steven brook

30th January 2020 at 9:40 am

I’m confused, you know all the popstars from the 60s 70s and so on? Well I have a hunch that some of them might have been a little lax in checking the ages of the groupies who used to hang around them. Obviously the seedy DJs got historical justice but what about the superstars? Obviously people like Ozzy Osbourne can’t be held responsible for his actions as he can’t remember anything before 1968, but what about the rest?

Jerry Owen

30th January 2020 at 9:27 am

She won’t be washing her face for a week!
She’ll take that one to the grave. Good on her.

Claire D

30th January 2020 at 9:21 am

I strongly object to associating ” Anglo-Saxon ” with ” neurotic, scowling political correctness “. Anglo-Saxons may be prone to cooler, more reserved self expression compared to Mediterraneans but inherently neurotic identitarians we are not. Identity politics is an aberration of our time, and there’s some of it over in Spain, it’s got nothing to do with being Anglo-Saxon.

Jim Lawrie

30th January 2020 at 9:58 am

White, North European is fair game always for the left.

Ven Oods

30th January 2020 at 8:22 am

I didn’t see the Morrison thing, but how do you ‘force’ someone to shake your hand?

Tim Hare

30th January 2020 at 9:55 am

You reach down and grab it when it is obvious that the person does not want to join in the handshake. That’s what he did.

Tim Hare

30th January 2020 at 2:34 am

If the ball girl did not want Nadal to kiss her she could have backed away but obviously she did not mind. Those who did mind want her to react according to their outrage rather than her own feelings of affection for a great tennis player. Every woman becomes a pawn in the battle to demonise men.

Scott Morrison’s behaviour was quite different. If someone is agreeable to shaking hands with you they will offer their hand in response. The woman in question was not agreeable to shaking hands and Morrison overrode her decision by forcing her to shake his hand. Does he count such forced handshakes as affirmation of his policies and government treatment?

Jerry Owen

30th January 2020 at 9:28 am

Tim Hare
Excellent snowflake post.. well done!

Tim Hare

30th January 2020 at 9:53 am

Excellent display of bitterness. Well done!

Jerry Owen

30th January 2020 at 10:34 am

No bitterness from me… Just pointing out how trite you are, you certainly are oversensitive and well.. just a bit weedy!

Tim Hare

30th January 2020 at 12:19 pm

I was just pointing out how bitter you are. You certainly need to put people down quite often. You are a bit ‘needy’ in that regard.

Jerry Owen

30th January 2020 at 7:43 pm

No not bitter just enjoy winding some people up.
What did you think of the girl getting kissed by Nadal… Near enough rape I guess eh?

Tim Hare

30th January 2020 at 8:36 pm

You must have a rather pathetic life if you regard ‘winding people up’ as ‘enjoyment’.
You seem rather defensive about your bitterness – having to keep defending what you say does not exist. Who are you really trying to convince? Needing to ridicule and patronise people who post in good faith is a sign of desperate insecurity.

Jerry Owen

30th January 2020 at 10:13 pm

Tim Hare
Me doth think you overthink too much.. lighten up man !

Tim Hare

31st January 2020 at 5:09 am

Your concern for my welfare does not come across as very genuine given that the subject of my thoughts is your bitterness, aggression and insecurities.

Jerry Owen

31st January 2020 at 9:10 am

Tim Hare
You bite every time!
Back to the story.. the girl loved been pecked on the cheek by one of the greatest players ever, but sadly you are unable to acknowledge it.
I suggest you have issues acknowledging male female interaction, maybe you’re gay which isn’t a problem but may explain your inability to understand !

Tim Hare

31st January 2020 at 9:33 am

Why do you sound so triumphant? How insecure you must be to need to provoke people and then to try and deflect your guilt by going back to the story.

I am not the slightest bit interested in what you think. I am only interested in focusing on your need to try an hurt others.

Jerry Owen

31st January 2020 at 10:10 am

Oh dear Tim… The acres you have written on this post about a handshake or lack of… Can’t you see why I’m taking the Micky.. as I say lighten up, life is short get a sense of perspective!

Tim Hare

31st January 2020 at 11:30 am

Oh dear Jerry… Deflecting the conversation about your behaviour and trying to pretend it is about the article. Can’t you stay on topic for once? You really need to focus. Now about your need to try and hurt people. What is the cause of that bitterness and insecurity do you think?

Jerry Owen

31st January 2020 at 2:36 pm

No deflection from me.. let’s continue then . I think you need a perspective balance about handshakes. I think you are a bit weedy.
I’m very happy with my lot in life but then I’ve worked hard for it.
What’s gone wrong with yours dear boy?

Tim Hare

31st January 2020 at 8:57 pm

“No deflection from me..”

Well you are doing it again. You want to keep talking about handshakes. If you wanted to respond to my opinions about the handshake you would have done so in the very first response to my post. Instead you insulted and patronised me and so I am trying to call out your behaviour for what it is – the desire to hurt others.

But you keep avoiding the subject which is not handshakes – it never was – it is your aggressive behaviour. You continue it by calling me weedy. Why do you need to do that?

I don’t care if you are happy with your ‘lot’ or if you have worked hard. I never asked you about those things. What I have asked you about is why you need to try and hurt people but you seem to be avoiding the real issue.

Whatever might or might not have gone wrong in my life is not really relevant here. I am not the one who is behaving in an aggressive manner.

I am going to continue to focus on your aggression so there is no point in trying to change the subject to anything else.

Jerry Owen

1st February 2020 at 10:35 am

Tim Hare
Carry on … Such a long post with no content. What do you want to discuss?
I note you have little to say about Nadal giving the young girl a little snog!
Anyway the ball’s in your court as they say….

Tim Hare

1st February 2020 at 11:09 pm

Your changing the subject again. I want to discuss your need to hurt people but you don’t and yet you cannot leave the discussion. I told you I am not going to discuss the article with you – I am only going to discuss your aggression. So why do you keep coming back? Don’t you believe what I say I am going to do?

You have to take responsibility for your behaviour which is intended to hurt and then apologize for it.

If you can’t make that first step then there is no point in continuing to come back here in some vain hope that you can steer me away from my course. You just look stupid continuing to try and engage in a discussion with someone who has no intention of discussing the issue you want them to.

Every time you attempt to change the topic you look more guilty.

Jerry Owen

2nd February 2020 at 10:32 am

Tim Hare
Crack on then !

Jerry Owen

2nd February 2020 at 12:11 pm

Tim Hare
C’mon then.. talk about my aggression, I’m still here going nowhere!

Tim Hare

2nd February 2020 at 11:38 pm

So you obviously believe that you are aggressive or else you would not agree to talk about it. So now that you have reached the point that you can accept your aggression why can’t you apologize for it? Wouldn’t that be the logical next step?

Jerry Owen

3rd February 2020 at 11:22 am

Tim Hare
I aplogize for nothing, my responses to people here I disagree with are balanced with the insults I get.
Have you read say ZPs posts and the nasty insults she gives to all of us here that voted leave?
A character called John Millson has said some pretty unpleasant stuff. But guess what I don’t cry about it, I enjoy their upset over Brexit.
As I say you are just a bit weedy really.

Tim Hare

3rd February 2020 at 1:14 pm

Aggression is never the answer to your problems with other people. ‘Weedy’ is not being man enough to take responsibility for your own behaviour and apologising for your aggression.

Jerry Owen

3rd February 2020 at 5:27 pm

Tim Hare
I’ll have to let you go you are so tedious.

Gweedo LeStrange

30th January 2020 at 2:20 pm

You’re almost correct, actually. ScoMo completely misread the signals, but Nadal didn’t bother reading any signals at all. That’s because Nadal is alpha, and ScoMo is beta. There is no such thing as unwanted touching from a man who a female deems attractive.

Tim Hare

30th January 2020 at 8:48 pm

If you keep your hand by your side when someone offers theirs it is pretty obvious that you do not want to shake hands for whatever reason. I don’t think you could mis-read that signal. His intent was to try and convince himself that everyone was happy to see him by grabbing someone and forcing them go along with his charade. Nadal did not forcefully grab the ball girl. His was a moment of spontaneous affection. If we start restricting spontaneous affection then we are in big trouble.

Leave a comment

You must be logged in to comment. Log in or Register now.