Last week, the President’s Club charity held its annual and apparently invitation-only bash at London’s Dorchester Hotel. All those invited were men; all those looking after them were young women, who had to conform to the criteria “tall, thin and pretty”. For their shift, which went on until 0200 hours the next morning, they could expect to be paid the princely sum of £150. This year the FT had undercover reporters there.
As their report tells, “The backgrounds of the dozen or more hostesses met by reporters were varied: many were students, hoping to launch careers as lawyers or marketing executives; others juggled part-time jobs as actresses, dancers or models and did occasional hostessing work to make ends meet … Upon arrival at the Dorchester, the first task given to the hostesses was to sign a five-page non-disclosure agreement about the event”. And, once on duty, several of the women were in for a shock.
“Over the course of six hours, many of the hostesses were subjected to groping, lewd comments and repeated requests to join diners in bedrooms elsewhere in the Dorchester … Hostesses reported men repeatedly putting hands up their skirts; one said an attendee had exposed his penis to her during the evening”. There’s some sad souls about.
Once the story was out, the BBC’s follow-up brought the inevitable: “A man who helped organise a men-only charity dinner, where hostesses were allegedly groped, has quit the Department for Education board … David Meller quit his non-executive role … Charities are refusing donations from the Presidents Club Charity Dinner, at London's Dorchester Hotel”. But this was the FT, and many in the right-wing press hate the Pink ‘Un.
And many aspiring recipients of More And Bigger Paycheques For Themselves Personally Now are well aware of not only this, but also that the stock press tactic - pioneered by the Mail - is to have a woman do the condemnation, to avoid being accused of sexism. Thus it was that Murdoch hack Camilla Long sniffed “Why did the FT even do that Presidents Club story? Tons of resources thrown at bears-shit-in-woods clickbait that I can read every other month in Marie Claire”. Brucie makes note … “Admits to reading Marie Claire”.
The deeply unfunny Laura Perrins was also quick off the mark: “Ok, so I want to know what the rules are now in light of #PresidentsClub? Are women adults who can choose what to work at or not? Or do they have to run their jobs past their feminist overlords? Any wrong doing should be reported to police and/or agency”. Yes, of course! They could have just gone on the game, or gone hungry. Ah, the joy of the free market in action!
Also comfortable enough not to engage brain was Julia Hartley Dooda, who trilled “Shouldn’t the women who agree to work at this event also be utterly ashamed?” Ashamed at needing to make ends meet as they weren’t overpaid hacks, perhaps.
Part of it, as Dawn Foster has observed, is mere “attention-seeking snark”. But that is what we are about to have raining down from the vengeful right, including imploring us that it’s only CHARIDEE! Except, as Josh Spero of the FT has discovered, “For at least five successive years, the Presidents Club spent more on its annual event than it gave away to charity”, which rather puts the “£20 million raised in 20 years” in perspective.
The President’s Club dinner exposed some very bad behaviour. That is all.