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 -
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,
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.