Victim-blaming on daytime TV

by Philippa Willitts // 25 October 2011, 15:29

Tags: rape, sexual violence, victim-blaming

A photograph taken at Slutwalk Manchester. In the foreground is a large homemade banner which reads This morning I was watching This Morning which, a bit like Tonight, is an unfortunately named TV programme that also describes the time of day it is on. Cue comedy sketches about "What are you watching?" "Tonight" "Yes, what are you watching tonight?" etc.

The programme didn't have my full attention, but I tuned in when Eamonn Holmes and Ruth Langsford were interviewing a woman who used tactics from the CSI series to try to ensure that the man who raped her was caught. So when Lance Corporal Jonathan Haynes was attacking her, she pushed strands of her own hair into the seats of his car, and spat, to ensure that her DNA was found, should his car be searched. Her actions have contributed to him now being sentenced for the attack not just on her, but for the rape and attempted abductions of others too.

Abbi, who was 18 when she was attacked, was inspiring to watch. I hesitated about writing that, because creating a hierarchy of 'inspiring victims', as opposed to victims who don't take such actions, or who don't go on to do incredible things, is unfair and oppressive, and reminiscent of the Supercrip phenomenon. However, she just was. The end of the interview came, and Eamonn Holmes said something that caused my jaw to drop open. This woman had just talked about a horrific experience she had been through, she had forgone her right to anonymity to do so, and as the interview closed, Holmes said, "Well, I hope you take taxis now".

That's right. He hopes she takes taxis now. Because the moral of the whole story was that, frankly, none of this would have happened if she hadn't dared to be outside, near her house, when a kidnapper and rapist was around. The victim-blaming attitude encompassed in that one sentence is as astounding as it is offensive.

What if she had got a taxi, and it had been the taxi driver that had assaulted her? It's not unheard of. Would he have ended the interview with, "Well, I hope you don't get taxis alone now"? Or, "well, I hope you don't get into a car with a man you don't know now"?

The truth is that women cannot win with attitudes like Eamonn Holmes's around. As a survivor, I feel it personally when it is insinuated that women should have done more to prevent their own assault. The injustice of that attitude causes me true pain, and I feel helpless in the face of it because as long as we blame the victim, we are not blaming the perpetrator. And if we don't blame the perpetrator, things will never, ever change.

This is why I am going to complain to ITV, and I would encourage others who feel strongly to do the same. The clip is not available to watch online yet, but once it is, you can form your own opinion.

[The image is a photograph taken at Slutwalk Manchester. In the foreground is a large homemade banner which reads "Still not asking for it" and in the background are lots of women with placards, reading "No means no" and "I am not public property". It was taken by Phil King and is used under a Creative Commons Licence]

Comments From You

Lauren Jade Thompson // Posted 25 October 2011 at 16:01

This is completely shocking. I also wonder what advice Holmes would have for Haynes' other victims, especially the woman whom the latter raped after "breaking into a university halls of residence". "Well, I hope you don't go to university now?!"

Philippa Willitts // Posted 25 October 2011 at 16:08

He's only just apologised for using the r-word too.

Sarah // Posted 25 October 2011 at 16:17

Well I've complained to ITV, I didn't see the show but I can't belive that they would ruin a brave woman's (most likely) harrowing interview by making such a flippant, dismissive and stupid comment. I'm encouraging others to complain as well. Abbi deserves a public apology.

Philippa Willitts // Posted 25 October 2011 at 16:24

Thanks Sarah. She really does deserve an apology. Reliving it all on national TV must have been incredibly difficult, then... that? Awful.

Chloe // Posted 25 October 2011 at 17:10

What a brilliant post Phillipa. I'd like someone tell Eamonn "well, I hope you don't make casual and causally incorrect sweeping statements on sub-standard tv shows now".

Philippa Willitts // Posted 25 October 2011 at 17:13

Thanks Chloe!

Kirsten Hey // Posted 25 October 2011 at 17:26

I've just sent this

"Dear Sir or Madam


I wish to complain in the strongest possible terms about a remark made by Eamonn Holmes on This Morning. After an interesting and inspiring piece about rape survivor, Abbi, his closing remark was "Well, I hope you take taxis now." If Abbi had got a taxi home and been raped by the taxi driver, which does happen, would he have ended with "well, I hope you walk home alone now" or "well, I hope you never go out without a crack squad of ninja bodyguards now"?


This was a disgusting piece of victim blaming and illustrates clearly that Mr Holmes has no more idea about what causes rape than he does about particle physics. For the record, rape does not happen because women get drunk, wear short skirts, walk home alone, kiss strangers or anything else he might think of - rape happens because some men are rapists and some women are unlucky enough to cross paths with them. There is lots of information on the web about rape culture; I suggest you ask Mr Holmes to read some of it before he's allowed to talk about rape in public again. He should be ashamed of his remark and the attitudes behind it. I'm not going to ask for a public apology, although I'm sure some viewers will, because it's too easy for him to apologise without really understanding. So I'm going to ask ITV and This Morning to ensure that he receives some education about what victim blaming is and why it's wrong. Once he understands, he can apologise, but if he doesn't understand, an apology would be meaningless.


Yours Faithfully"

Philippa Willitts // Posted 25 October 2011 at 17:31

Thanks for this, Kirsten. Let me know if you hear anything back!

CharlotteSutcliffe // Posted 25 October 2011 at 18:09

This is absolutely awful, I have also complained to ITV! An apology isn't enough, because I doubt it would even matter to him.

Rowan // Posted 25 October 2011 at 20:21

So obviously taking a taxi would have helped the girl who he raped after BREAKING INTO HER HALLS OF RESIDENCE. *facepalm* Oh, pardon me, she should have been locked in her father's house with a chastity belt on until she was married off, shouldn't she?

Kai // Posted 25 October 2011 at 20:22

My letter - sorry Kirsten, I did borrow elements from your own letter. Hopefully I'll hear something...


To whom it may concern.

I am writing in regards to a comment made by Eamonn Holmes on this morning's program.

During a segment during which a young woman described how she used techniques learned from the program CSI, which had the potential to be both interesting and informative to viewers. However, during the interview, Eamonn Holmes remarked "I hope you get taxis now"

This remark is not only unhelpful and crass, but as someone who went through a major ordeal whereby I was attacked and raped by a taxi driver just over 2 years ago, I find this comment to be highly insensitive.

There are many comments that he could have made, such as "what safety steps would you recommend to women to help them protect themselves in a similar circumstance?" Or how about just not saying anything at all? That would help. Instead, in my opinion, he belittled what was a harrowing experience and apportioned the blame (at least in part) to the victim for doing what all women should have the right to do... to walk in a public area in the dark with no repercussions.

If a man had been physically attacked and beaten at night and had been on the program to discuss his experiences, would the same rhetoric have been applied? Should we all just give up walking around after dark? If we look at the alternatives, they're not much better, and I speak from experience.

Abbi's rapist was caught. Mine was never found. The streets where she lives might even be safer than the taxi cabs of where I live. What gives Eamonn the right to decide which is safer.

I think that Eamonn should visit a rape crisis centre and see the work that they do there. See the many different situations in which rape can occur so that he can make an informed apology, instead of just blindly spitting an apology to placate the angry public, (probably) without even knowing what he's apologising for an the effect it had on people, like myself, for whom a taxi is not a safe place and never will be again.

Thank you for your time.

Philippa Willitts // Posted 25 October 2011 at 21:06

Rowan - I assume so!

And Kai - thanks for writing to them too. I'm really sorry you went through that, and it reaffirms what I already knew about how inappropriate and crass Holmes's comment was.

David // Posted 25 October 2011 at 22:04


Note that this is the same Eamon Holmes who recently sued the BBC over jokes about his weight. Obviously a sensitive fellow:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/lostinshowbiz/2010/jul/22/bbc-bans-eamonn-holmes-jokes

Kirsten Hey // Posted 25 October 2011 at 22:35

I had a response

"Dear Kirsten

Thank you for your email regarding Eamonn Holmes on This Morning.

Your comments have been forwarded to the This Morning production team for their perusal. This Morning can be contacted directly via email thismorning@itv.com or by telephone 0800 030 4044 between the hours of 09:00 – 12:30 each week day.

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

If we can be of further assistance in the future please do not hesitate to contact us.

Kind regards

Tracey

ITV Viewer Services"

Sarah Louisa // Posted 26 October 2011 at 10:56

Considering his own sensibilities regarding glib comments (about his weight), I hope he will offer an apology and I would like to see, rather than just the usual cap-tip apology, it used as a chance to say that he didn't realise how entrenched victim blaming ideas were in his own psychology that they could come out of his mouth in an unguarded moment - as that has the possibility of having a positive impact.

Felicity Dennistoun // Posted 26 October 2011 at 11:41

Great post. Shows just how mainstream attitudes blaming women for rape are.

Eammonn Holmes should make a public apology on 'This Morning' explaining why he was wrong. He should also make a personal one to Abbi for being so insulting.

Fiona // Posted 26 October 2011 at 12:38

If people want to watch it, it's up on ITV player now, about 46mins in, just after the third ad break (also has an ad break in the middle of the interview). I sort of wish I hadn't.

Holmes asks right at the beginning why the woman being interviewed didn't get a taxi, and she explains that she walked home with a friend, and only walked the last two streets by herself, which would take her seconds. It's after this that he says at the end 'I hope you take taxis now', not just once but in several, patronising ways; she already said why she didn't - was he not listening? How would taking a taxi in that case have made her any safer? Drivers don't walk you to your door, and who's to say a driver won't attack you? As has been said, rape happens because rapists rape, not because of anything victims do, but Holmes's reasoning here is stupifying.

Ellie Coggan // Posted 26 October 2011 at 13:13

Great blog.

I have complained to ITV and straight to This Morning. Will let you know if I hear anything!

This is not the first time Eamonn Holmes has shown himself to be an insensitive and ignorant interviewer, and I fear it won't be the last.

Catrin // Posted 26 October 2011 at 14:33

I have also written to ITV (I used quite a lot of your wording Phillipa as I did not actually see the programme myself!). I find the treatment of this, obviously very brave, woman to be repulsive and hope that multiple complaints will make Mr Holmes think twice in future before making similar remarks. At a talk I went to in the summer at Hay Festival, Polly Toynbee said that when she worked at the BBC, it only took a handful of viewers to complain to really grab the attention of the production teams - hopefully that will be the case here!

Cecilia Shandeva // Posted 26 October 2011 at 14:44

I saw the interview as I made a special effort to watch it.

At the first part of the interview Eamonn Holmes asked some questions about what Abbi was doing out on her own/early hours of the morning?! During the interview Abbi makes reference to walking home with a friend then dropping that friend home. From there Abbi walked through a couple of streets that she knew well, and had walked many times alone. It was almost like she was having to justify being outside at such an hour. It was awful to watch. This was then followed buy Eamonn's comment about about 'getting taxis in the future' during the interview warp up.

I tweeted @itvthismorning straight away but got no reply.Therefore, I am very pleased you have covered this in the blog.

The rapist only got 11 years which is not good enough considering what he did. He carried out sexual crimes on many women. They didn't cover that off on ITV This Morning.

Read about his crimes here http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/8751393/Victim-used-own-DNA-to-trap-serial-rapist-soldier.html

Bridget Whelan // Posted 26 October 2011 at 14:49

Thanks for this deeply saddening post - found it and your blog through twitter. So glad you took the trouble to alert readers to what was said. After all these years, after all the arguments...that someone could still think that it was acceptable to say something like that. Ye Gods!
Will follow this up

ellie // Posted 26 October 2011 at 15:49

I had a response to my complaint. Don't really feel it addresses any of the concerns set out in this article or my complaint letter. See what you think...

"Many thanks for your email. I was the producer on yesterday’s show and can absolutely assure you that Eamonn was certainly not suggesting that the victim was in any way to blame for this horrific attack, he was merely making the point for the benefit of viewers that it is generally safer to call a taxi than to walk the streets alone at night.

I hope this clears up any misunderstanding."

tilly branson // Posted 26 October 2011 at 15:57

Anyone else get this response to their complaints?

"Many thanks for your email. I was the producer on yesterday’s show and can absolutely assure you that Eamonn was certainly not suggesting that the victim was in any way to blame for this horrific attack, he was merely making the point for the benefit of viewers that it is generally safer to call a taxi than to walk the streets alone at night.

I hope this clears up any misunderstanding.

Many thanks
Kirsty"

Sarah // Posted 26 October 2011 at 16:15

Just had an email back:

Hi Sarah

Many thanks for your email. I was the producer on yesterday’s show and can absolutely assure you that Eamonn was certainly not suggesting that the victim was in any way to blame for this horrific attack, he was merely making the point for the benefit of viewers that it is generally safer to call a taxi than to walk the streets alone at night.

I hope this clears up any misunderstanding.

Many thanks

Kirsty Jenkins

I personally don't feel that this has cleared up anything. Has anyone else had a reply back?

Philippa Willitts // Posted 26 October 2011 at 16:37

Looks like everyone has had the same reply then!

Catrin // Posted 26 October 2011 at 16:41

I had the same reply:

Hi Catrin

Many thanks for your email. I was the producer on yesterday’s show and can absolutely assure you that Eamonn was certainly not suggesting that the victim was in any way to blame for this horrific attack, he was merely making the point for the benefit of viewers that it is generally safer to call a taxi than to walk the streets alone at night.

I hope this clears up any misunderstanding.

Many thanks
Kirsty

JessLeeds // Posted 26 October 2011 at 16:46

Dear ITV
"he was merely making the point for the benefit of viewers that it is generally safer to call a taxi than to walk the streets alone at night"

a) It isn't.
b) Even if it was 'safer' to pay for a taxi than to walk, this is not the fault of the person who chooses to walk, this is the fault of the people who choose to make the street unsafe. Why, then, did he not point out, for the benefit of viewers, that it is generally better to NOT RAPE AND ASSAULT PEOPLE than it is to rape and assault people?
c) Are you advocating the view point that people should pay a private company because the taxes they have paid to ensure that it is safe to walk anywhere have been thrown down the drain? If so, is this not a bigger issue that as a topical issues based programme you should be addressing, rather than encoraging the promotion of capitalism?

Yours,
Jess

Catrin // Posted 26 October 2011 at 16:57

JessLeeds, as you can see from my post I found Mr Holmes' comments as offensive as everyone else here, but I think you have to concede that it is in fact safer in general to get a taxi than to walk the streets alone? Maybe not in this case (as it was only a couple streets) but in general? I don't know a lot about this subject as fortunately neither myself nor my friends have been a victim of such an attack - but that's what occurs to me. Cat.

LibertarianLou // Posted 26 October 2011 at 17:05

GOODNESS I TRUST YOU DON'T WALK AROUND YOU OWN HOME WITH YOUR HUSBAND ANYMORE?

GOODNESS I TRUST YOU DON'T GET INTO BED WITH YOUR HUSBAND ANYMORE?

GOODNESS I TRUST YOU DON'T STAY AT YOUR UNCLE'S HOUSE ANYMORE?

GOODNESS I TRUST YOU GO INTO A CATHOLIC CHURCH OR SPEND ANY TIME ALONE WITH A PRIEST NOW?

GOODNESS I HOPE YOU DON'T CLEAN POWERFUL POLITICIANS' ROOMS ANYMORE?

GOODNESS I HOPE YOU DON'T GO AND REPORT EVENTS IN FOREIGN COUNTRIES ANYMORE?

GOODNESS I HOPE YOU DON'T LEAVE YOUR HOUSE TO BUY THE GROCERIES WHILE YOUR HUSBAND IS AT WORK INSTEAD OF MAKING HIM DO IT NOW?

etc etc etc

LibertarianLou // Posted 26 October 2011 at 17:09

Those replies are unbelievably patronising!

We all "misunderstood." Silly women.

Calm down dears.

(I do not care if the email is sent by a woman or a man it is the same thing.)

Philippa Willitts // Posted 26 October 2011 at 17:38

Hi Cat,
Unfortunately women are not necessarily safer in taxis - plenty of women have been assaulted by taxi drivers, including Kai who commented above. The fact is, sadly, that whatever precautions women take, when we are assaulted there is virtually always a way to turn it round and blame us for it. Putting the responsibility on women to not be assaulted, whether that be by spending money on a taxi, or being walked home, or never leaving the house, deflects the responsibility from where it should be, and from the people who actually are to blame.

Catrin // Posted 26 October 2011 at 18:25

Hi Phillipa,
I think what I was trying to say came across a bit wrong :) I completely agree that rape is NEVER EVER the fault of anyone but the rapist, and I also understand that some rapists are taxi drivers and use this to gain access to their victims. All I meant was that I don't think it is true that getting in a taxi is actually more dangerous than walking home alone. If I were to have to walk a fair distance at night, alone (perhaps in a less busy or poorly lit area) I would feel safer getting a taxi than I would walking, even bearing in mind the points above.

I was not in any way disagreeing with any of the things you have said, or trying to put any sort of blame on any rape victims. I strongly and consistently advocate the position that rapists are responsible for rapes, and never their victims.

Thanks, Cat :)

Philippa Willitts // Posted 26 October 2011 at 18:28

Thanks Cat, don't worry, I didn't think you were blaming victims. I agree with what you've said. I hate that we have to make these decisions not based on whether we feel like a walk, or whether it's raining, or whatever, but based on our assessments and guesses about our own safety.

Lorna // Posted 27 October 2011 at 12:27

I emailed ITV and This Morning and today received this non-apology:

"Hi Lorna

Many thanks for your email. I was the producer on yesterday’s show and can absolutely assure you that Eamonn was certainly not suggesting that the victim was in any way to blame for this horrific attack, he was merely making the point for the benefit of viewers that it is generally safer to call a taxi than to walk the streets alone at night.

I hope this clears up any misunderstanding.

Many thanks
Kirsty"

Lily Laity // Posted 27 October 2011 at 13:15

I also received this message. Here is my reply:

Dear Kirsty,

No, not particularly, as I don't believe there is any misunderstanding. Mr Holmes made several pointed references during the show to Abbi walking home alone and asked her directly why she chose to do so, thus forcing her to justify her choice to walk a few streets alone. Even if she had chosen to walk several miles she is on no way responsible for her attacker's choice to rape her. Young men are significantly more likely to be attacked while out alone yet there remains this constant rhetoric that insists that only women are at risk, that forces women to take responsibility for their own safety in ways that society deems appropriate (i.e. don't drink too much, don't dress provocatively, don't go out alone after dark) or that blames women who choose not to follow these commandments. Men are rarely given the same message. Rapes by taxi drivers are also sadly common and so this comment is not particularly helpful anyway. Furthermore, if it was, as you say, 'for the benefit of the viewers' then why doesn't Mr Holmes advise his viewers that the culture whcih places responsibility for sexual assault on women themselves only serves to justify the actions of rapists. I would find this beneficial. Or how about advising viewers that it is generally safer not to rape people. I think that THIS would be to the benefit of his viewers (who do not any longer include me).

Yours sincerely etc.

JessLeeds // Posted 27 October 2011 at 15:48

Quoted in the Daily Fail! You've made it now Phillippa.... :)

shatterboxx // Posted 27 October 2011 at 17:34

"it is generally safer to call a taxi than to walk the streets alone at night."

Citation needed...

I'm not saying it absolutely -isn't-, but that's not the point. He shouldn't have brought it up at all. If a woman is raped, to imply that her chosen location had something to do with it is to imply that it was somehow her fault. Locations in themselves don't contribute to the likelihood of a rapist attacking someone. It's totally unrealistic for people to try and kid themselves that as long as someone avoids anywhere supposedly "dangerous", they'll never be raped. Especially as most rape attacks are perpetrated by someone the victim knows...

Philippa Willitts // Posted 27 October 2011 at 18:34

Not just the Mail, but the Telegraph too!!

Katherine // Posted 27 October 2011 at 19:03

With views like these being aired on Ntional TV it's no wonder the conviction rate for rape is so low. disgusting. I've also emailed a complaint to ITV, Grrrr

Janet // Posted 27 October 2011 at 22:04

I found his comment outrageous - was he trying to be funny? Sure, it might be safer to take a taxi, but a couple of streets? Around here, getting a taxi around, say, Christmas, is impossible anyway. Check out the comments on the Daily Mail http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2054110/Eamonn-Holmes-asks-Hannah-Cant-raped-didnt-taxi.html (well, what do you expect from the Daily Mail readership....)

She wasn't trying to promote some sort of feminist agenda that women have the right to walk alone at night - she was trying to get home - as I have done thousands of times. The only difference is that I've been luckier.

This is an intelligent, articulate women who had the courage to brave live TV to discuss something deeply personal and has undoubtedly caused her a lifetiime of damage. She also had the amazing savvy to leave DNA on the scene - if I was that intelligent at aged 18 I'd be finishing my third PhD by now. By ensuring this man was jailed she has done more to prevent rape than all the taxis in the world.

I think the person who should NOT be taking so many taxis is the interviewer - walking burns calories, apparently.

I'm going to write to ITV and I can "somehow" imagine the reply.

Dan F // Posted 27 October 2011 at 22:06

Holmes' comments were inappropriate but it seems that any advise regarding taking measures to avoid being a victim of sexual assault offered to women be it by individuals or by the government is seen by many feminists as blaming women if they do become victims of sexual assault or absolving the perpetrators of responsibility for their crimes.
By saying don't go out alone at night or don't walk along dark alley ways where there is knowone around one could be accused of saying that if a woman does do those things and she is raped it's her own fault. But is that really what people are saying?
And most feminists would not apply that to other crimes. For example feminists wouldn't argue that government campaigns urging home owners to lock their windows and doors when they go out to avoid being burgled is blaming burgarly victims and absolving burglars of responsibility.
But perhaps there's a difference between attitudes towards violent crimes and property theft?

Philippa Willitts // Posted 27 October 2011 at 22:10

Janet,

I loved your comment! Until the reference to calories... Of all the things we can criticise a person for, including Eamonn Holmes, resorting to superficial comments about someone's appearance just degrades the argument. There are plenty of things about him that are ripe for criticism! His weight shouldn't make any difference to anything.

Janet // Posted 27 October 2011 at 22:57

Hi Phillipa - indeed, making jokes about his weight was a cheap shot. I suppose I was a bit angry. It gave me a giggle anyway, despite the fact that we feminists don't have a sense of humour (apparently).

I was interested in the comment someone made earlier about the fact that statistically, more men are violently attacked late at night than women (by strangers anyway). Anecdotally this is true in my experience. In two specific cases of people I know, one had his front teeth knocked out while going to the newsagent to buy a pack of cigarettes. The other was standing outside a nightclub when he was punched from behind and left for dead on the pavement (he survived after months of therapy). I don't recall a single person suggesting that these incidents could have been prevented had the first not gone to buy cigarettes and the second not stand outside a nightclub.

Random, opportunistic violence is just that.

Ironically, the second incident (outside a nightclub) happened while the guy was waiting for a taxi. Next time he'll know better and just walk, eh?

JessLeeds // Posted 28 October 2011 at 09:36

I know a hell of a lot more men that have been violently attacked than women. However, when I was mugged I was told off for being on my own by the police, who gave me a crime number and that was it, when my (now ex) boyfriend was mugged, which included getting his face kicked in the copper told him that if they found him he'd 'try to get a kick in for you lad'.
I also *know* a lot more men who have been attacked because men talk about it. When women actually start talking about the amount of times they are touched, spoken to inappropriatly by a stranger, made to feel uncomfortable in a public space, that turns into most of my friends. You just don't report every time a man pinches your arse, even though that's harrassment, because it becomes so normalised.
I'm not saying that having your arse pinched and what happened to this woman are comparable, btw!

Geri // Posted 28 October 2011 at 09:52

Hi all, I realise this show was a few days ago now, but I did see it and I did boil with fury. I was hoping to see an article about it on F Word, because I've been thinking about it since the show, so I was heartened to see how many people have contacted ITV regarding this! I read everybody's comments and I hope nobody minds that I tried to put as much F Word commenters' wisdom in this letter of complaint:


I would like to make a complaint about Tuesday's 'This Morning', with regards to a comment made by Eammon Holmes at the end of Abbi's interview:

'I hope you get taxis now'.

What an absolutely shocking and frankly disgusting thing to say! Rape happens because rapists rape. Not because women make the wrong choices. I am so, so appalled that this woman has had to listen to him patronise, belittle, devalue and actually blame her for her horrifying experience. The message should not have been that she should 'start getting taxis', but that men shouldn't rape, and women should be free to travel in whatever way they please. Besides, has Holmes not heard of women being raped in taxis?
On the street?
In their homes?
In the hotel rooms of politicians?
In their workplace?
In foreign countries in which they are reporting news?
In their Halls of Residence?

There is no 'misunderstanding' to be cleared up here - he said it. Holmes is pretty well-practised at presenting that show, but he said it. It wasn't an accident, and whether he thinks he wasn't 'suggesting in any way that the victim was to blame', he did blame her. For the whole nation to hear, and that 'she should have protected herself better' attitude to seep into the brains of every listener. I think Abbi should get an apology.

To say that your viewers 'misunderstood' is quite incredibly insulting. Holmes made sure that Abbi actually had to justify why she chose to walk home! Because she wanted to?! Because it didn't occur to her that she'd get raped and then be told she should have got a taxi on live television! For the benefit of the viewers, ITV should not be justifying the rapist by questioning and placing the responsibility on this woman, it should be getting the message across that it is never, ever, ever the victim's fault - Abbi did not put herself in the position of rape victim.

With views such as Holmes's, going drip drip drip into the minds of viewers, no wonder our country's conviction rate for rape is only 6.4%. So Abbi's case is in the minority. Because these victims should have got a taxi..? Oh, but if they did get a a taxi and got raped anyway (which happens very often, actually), then they should have ordered... what?!

I'm so upset and infuriated that This Morning would advocate such an outrageous viewpoint; that rape wouldn't happen if the potential victims had done more to prevent it.

I hope that Eammon Holmes is pointed in the direction of the many complaints received about this comment (as I assume there already has been), and is therefore able to begin to understand how wrong his attitude is, and how the repercussions of such an attitude are catastrophic.


I hope this is okay. I actually wrote a letter (handwritten and everything) to ITV once before, regarding the victim-blaming that went on in a storyline in Emmerdale. Basically, the court decided that the character Lisa Dingle was to blame for her own rape because she stayed at her workplace to do a longer shift, when her colleague raped her. Lisa was devastated, but the story was pretty much left there, with no further discussion or development; it really felt like the message was: Lisa, get over it. They never wrote back to me.

I hope this is okay.

Philippa Willitts // Posted 28 October 2011 at 09:56

Great letter, Geri!

Geri // Posted 28 October 2011 at 10:02

Thank you, Philippa! I'm so glad you posted this article, it's brilliant.

Maria Harvey // Posted 28 October 2011 at 10:39

Well done sisters!

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/celebritynews/8852782/Eamonn-Holmes-cricised-for-controversial-rape-comment.html

Dan F // Posted 28 October 2011 at 13:00

@ Geri. You and many others need to be made aware the soap operas do not depict rape storylines in order to help raise awarness and help rape victims but to get more viewers to watch.

Qubit // Posted 28 October 2011 at 18:53

Dan F while I agree locking doors does help prevent theft, I have to question what you are doing owning items of value in the first place?! Close to 100% of thefts involve items of value being taken. You could easily and effectively reduce your chances of having your property being taken by not owning anything. The locking doors etc. sounds like a pathetic excuse for not being careful about safety. I also don't want any of that rubbish about how you need to own things, you could easily survive without most things you own and is it really worth the risk! If you say yes then I have to question whether you are committed to your own security because it sounds to me like you are making excuses to avoid taking responsibility for your own actions.

Dan F // Posted 28 October 2011 at 20:19

Qubit. Well it would too obvious for me to say you are being sarcastic!

Geri // Posted 29 October 2011 at 16:54

Dan F... I know what soaps are for, and primarily, it's entertainment. I do not 'need to be made aware of that.' You haven't actually read my letter... I can't post the letter that I sent to ITV re: Emmerdale, because as I said - I hand-wrote it.

It was merely a letter that drew their attention to the fact that the character's trauma and the injustice of her being blamed for her rape was almost entirely dismissed... I mean, once the court had said the rapist wasn't going to be prosecuted, that was it - that storyline ended there and there was nothing more said.

It wasn't even really a letter of complaint - I only wanted to say that the media, whether it's in the form of a soap or not, has a huge responsibility and a huge amount of power over its viewers.

I told them that actually, I quite agreed with and recognised the way they'd depicted the situation, as the victim-blaming that went on is (so sadly) reflective of reality...

The main aim of the letter was to ask them: are you going to let the audience somehow know how cruel and unjust victim-blaming is, at least through some kind of dialogue between characters? Or something similar, because it's the little things like characters on a soap opera that can persuade/dissuade a viewer sitting at home wondering whether they should report rape.

But, perhaps you're right - perhaps I am naive to have hoped that the writers of a national and widely-viewed (?) soap opera would care..?

Anyway. I am aware that soap-writers just want more viewers, but I'm also aware that soaps have profound effects on their viewers, as they deal with real-life situations such as this one, and should be (even if they aren't) aware of and careful with the power that they have as writers of a TV show.

For One and For All // Posted 30 October 2011 at 04:52

I suggest that the best thing we can do is to begin petitions again that will reinstate
non violent television production on public television. I am an educator and one of the top problems we are having in our society is the demonstration of senseless fictional enactments of all crimes on television and all billboard media including sexual crimes.
I suggest that these types of programming be available only on cable and not public TV channels. (NBC Comments?

Kai // Posted 30 October 2011 at 16:26

Hi guys.

I have LITERALLY just received this response:

Dear Kai

Thank you for your email regarding This Morning.
I can confirm that I have forwarded your email to the This Morning production office for their attention.
Alternatively, you can contact them directly on 0800 030 40 44 or email thismorning@itv.com
May I take this opportunity to thank you for taking the time to contact us here at ITV Viewer Services.

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

Kind regards

Karen

ITV Viewer Services

I've not replied yet. I'm still fighting the urge to headdesk or throw my laptop out of the window. Or possibly crying. Or all 3.

Going to have a think and draft something up telling them how utterly "fantastic" their generic email made me feel after revealing something so personal. I just need a day to compose my thoughts I think...

Janet // Posted 30 October 2011 at 23:50

I know this is straying from the point of the original article but I object to soaps dealing with issues like rape. I know that the goal of the producers is first and foremost ratings, but when the show ends and they say, "if you have been affected by any issues on this program, call 0845-I'm-affected-by-your-show helpline" then they are acknowledging that some viewers are not immune to the storylines. I think it is hypocritical to deal with an issue badly and callously and then appear sensitive by offering a 'help' line.

Melle // Posted 31 October 2011 at 10:46

Hi Janet,

Agree that when a storyline to do with rape is handled badly the helpline thing at the end doesn't exactly seem to justify it, but when it is handled well it may have a positive impact - for example the current Coronation St storyline re Carla being raped by her (ex)fiance resulted in an eightfold increase in calls to Rape Crisis Centre helplines and has been praised by the rape crisis centres. Also the story was developed with input from a sexual assault clinic who revised every script and have been on set for the filming as Corrie wanted to ensure they handled it sensitively.

(I haven't been keeping up with the storyline so not sure how it has developed since the initial rape scene but think Carla has reported to police etc.)

M

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