Everyday Victim Blaming

challenging institutional disbelief around domestic & sexual violence and abuse

Overt victim blaming on The Alan Titchmarsh Show

On Wednesday afternoon, when I got back from work I sat at my PC and watched the Alan Titchmarsh Show.

I can't say it's something I'm proud of, but I was keen to see it as I knew Laura Bates of Everyday sexism was on the programme discussing whether or not sexism still exists. I know, I know, I mean I realise this was folly, but I wanted to see how Laura had been received, I was curious, it was foolish.

I knew it wasn't going to be good and was expecting it to be ridiculous based on the title alone. I can honestly say however that I was not expecting the level of complete ignorance and unforgiveable "slut shaming" that I witnessed on prime time TV, shaming not of adult women bit of young girls.

At a time when TV personalities are still being investigated for sexual offenses going back decades, when revelations of the level of privilege exercised by media employees over the bodies of women and young girls, in the corridors of the BBC and beyond are still coming to light, I was shocked that this had been allowed to happen live on air.

You can watch the episode aired on Weds 17th Sept on ITV player. The section in question appears just after the first advert break, where during a discussion about street harassment Alan clearly states that 12-13 year old girls are "asking for it" in reference to street harassment "or worse", because they go out dressed in cropped tops and short skirts (I kid you not).

I would NEVER normally advocate anyone watch Alan Titchmarsh but I am sharing this because I want as many people as possible to complain about his words. I want it to be made clear that this should NEVER be allowed, that when somebody has this kind of platform they should take care not to say things that put people at risk, that discriminate against sections of society, that justify the actions of criminals and abusers.

This is the complaint I sent within 30 minutes of watching the programme -

Dear Sir/Madam,

I have a very serious complaint about today's Alan Titchmarsh programme.

In the second part of the programme during a debate about sexism Alan complained that 12-13 year old girls were walking down streets in cropped tops and short skirts and that this was "asking for it" regarding street harassment or "worse".

I am utterly dumbfounded that at a time when we have, coming to light allegation after allegation of sexual assault and rape of young girls of this age group in TV settings and in the community, he saw fit to lay blame for sexual harassment and presumably assault, at the door of children rather than at the door of the men who are so incapable of self control they see fit to yell sexually explicit remarks at children or do "worse". I assume Alan would not do this himself, certainly none of the men I love and respect would do this, no matter what a 13 year old was wearing, so why is he suggesting if it happened the blame would lie with her and not with the adult man?

This misapprehension and misinformation reduces the crimes of assault and harassment to lesser importance and continues a culture of victim blaming which hugely reduces the chances of anyone ever coming forward when harassed, assaulted or raped. This is a fact and yet a mainstream celebrity has seen fit to perpetuate this incredibly dangerous and ignorant fallacy on a daytime TV slot viewed by thousands.

As a woman, a human, a viewer and a parent of a 13 year old who is currently happily sitting in her shorts suit and cropped top watching children's TV because she is a CHILD, I demand a very prominent apology and I suggest very strongly that this is taken very seriously, that Alan undergoes some training on sexual violence and on diversity before he makes such an unforgivable mistake again.

Mr Titichmarsh needs to be made to understand that he has just been responsible for validating the views, thoughts and actions of every man who feels justified in harassing and violating young girls and women and in so doing has made the world less safe for my daughter and everyone else's.

And YES it is that serious!!

I look forward to hearing what action will be taken,

Yours sincerely,

Lisa Clarke

I am not holding my breath for action, but I do feel very strongly that we need to call out this kind of behaviour wherever we see it. If we want to make the world safer for women we have to change the media we are all swimming in. A media that is reinforcing women's place as sexual objects, that continues to reinforce rape myths and yet, ironically still asks if sexism even exists.

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8 thoughts on “Overt victim blaming on The Alan Titchmarsh Show

  • Gill Ward says:

    Thanks so much for sending this brilliant letter and please keep us involved. I was outraged when I watched this utter aggressive victim blaming shouts ranting ogre on a daytime TV programme, in terms of what and how he said the outrageous outpouring and how he treated Laura Bates. It was a disgrace. Good on Laura for taking this to the unconverted. She should not have been treated like that. I really hope she’s ok.

    Anyway, thanks and I’m very interested in further responses.

    Gill

  • Suzi says:

    Well done for writing this well expressed letter. He was well out of order saying that. It is not just wrong and insulting to women and children but also to men. It implies, as you so put it so well, that men are so weak that they can’t control themselves and can be controlled by what women and children are wearing. He needs to apologise and undergo some sort of course. I am disgusted that someone so influential would say such disgusting things. He needs to engage his brain before opening his mouth!

  • Paula says:

    I have just watched the episode of the titchmarsh show you mention and I am horrified.

  • Michael Weipert says:

    I willl reluctantly watch this but will do so in order to write about this flagrant and serious case of ‘slut shaming’ it beggars belief that a grown man would actually say that a ’12-13 year old girls are “asking for it” in reference to street harassment “or worse”, because they go out dressed in cropped tops and short skirts.’ I dislike this man and his TV stuff but I will put that aside and try to be objective and stick to the facts. I do however wonder what goes on in such a mind as his that actually reaches a conclusion which can state the words quoted.

  • Kerry says:

    I am absolutely raging about this. You have perfectly summed up my thoughts on this, would Alan Titchmarsh catcall or “worse” a 13 year old in a crop top? No, so why on earth validate the actions of those that so??

    My complaint will be going in today

  • Paula says:

    Did you get a decent response from the show? I got mine today. I have posted here and included the email I sent them.

    Dear Paula,

    Thank you very much for writing to ITV following the live Alan Titchmarsh Show which you saw on the 17th September.

    We are very sorry that you found Alan’s remarks on wolf-whistling offensive. He made it quite clear before the end of the debate that he was not condoning this behaviour or indeed any form of harassment or sexist conduct towards girls and women.

    We feel that the discussion panel was well-balanced and that the author and campaigner Laura Bates set out an extremely good case against inappropriate harassment in the street and against sexism in the workplace. Author and columnist Kathy Lette supported Laura’s comments and gave a very strong example of unacceptable male behaviour from the early days of her own journalistic career.

    Once again we would like to apologise if some of the views expressed caused offence. We really value feedback from our viewers and ITV and its programme-makers always take criticism on board. Please be assured that we will keep in mind all the points you raise for future programmes.

    May I take this opportunity to thank you for taking the time to contact us here at ITV.

    If we can be of any further assistance please do not hesitate to contact us.

    Kind Regards,

    Ann

    ITV Viewer Services Officer

    ITV Viewer Services | ITV plc
    Tel: 0344 88 14150 | viewerservices@itv.com
    Hours of Opening: 09.00 – 19.00 Mon-Fri, 10.00 – 19.00 Sat. Closed on Sundays and Bank Holidays.
    ITV plc Head Office Tel +44 (0) 20 7157 3000 itv.com

    From: Paula Turk
    To: “viewerservices@itv.com”
    Date: 9/19/2014 9:02:04 AM
    Subject: Alan Titchmarsh Show

    I am writing to complain about a recent episode of the Alan Titchmarsh Show that was aired on Wednesday 17th September.

    Specifically about comment made by Alan Titchmarsh regarding young girls dressing “in appropriately ” during a section of his show about sexism.

    He said that the young girls were asking for it because they wear crop tops and shorts. Young girls wear crop tops, shorts short dresses, or make up because they are young, they are still children that are playing at growing up. The blame and responsibility of sex abuse does not lie at their door, it lies at the men that feel it is ” ok” to sexually harass young girls. the men that see such children as sex objects.

    Does Mr Titchmarsh condone what has happened in the last few decades with the sexual abuse that happened in connection with the media?

    Does Mr Titchmarsh condone the recent rape cases in Rotherham?

    I could go on but I am sure you get the point.

    Maybe Mr Titchmarsh should refrain from talking about serious matters.

    Thank you for your time

    Paula Turk
    Paula.turk@live.co.uk

    • Lisa says:

      Hi Paula,I think we all got the same response. I wrote back drawing on the points they made and just why the response was inadequate. I asked them to escalate my complaint. Will keep you all posted and thanks for all the fab comments :)

  • Lisa Clarke says:

    Just as an update – I got a reply to my request to escalwate the complaint suggesting I place a complaint with Ofcom so I have now done so. If you are complaining yourself maybe consider doing the same as this helps make them take it more seriously. I think Judy Finnegan’s remerks on Loose Women yesterday illustrate that there needs to be some training of TV personalities adn presenters before they are allowed to discuss these subjects on air. They MUST be made more aware of the damage these throw away statements do!