In the news today we’ve heard Dame Angela Lansbury (best known in our office as the voice of Mrs Potts in Beauty and the Beast) offering her opinion on the rise in sexual abuse allegations in Hollywood.
“There are two sides to this coin. We have to own up to the fact that women, since time immemorial, have gone out of their way to make themselves attractive. And unfortunately it has backfired on us – and this is where we are today.
We must sometimes take blame, women. I really do think that. Although it’s awful to say we can’t make ourselves look as attractive as possible without being knocked down and raped,” Dame Angela told Radio Times.
So, is women’s desire to make themselves physically attractive to blame for sexual abuse? In short, no. And while it almost pains me to have to explain why, let’s do just that.
First of all, consider why women feel the need to make themselves look a certain way. Society, the media and especially the entertainment industry have all been telling us since ‘time immemorial’ that we only have value if we look beautiful.
We are bombarded with advertisements telling us happiness can be found in an anti-ageing cream. Larger bodies, disabled bodies, older bodies, and ethnic bodies are not represented. We are sold a certain brand of beauty and are told anyone who does not conform is not welcome.
Is it any surprise then, that millions of women try to fit that mould of ‘beauty’?
And hey, how about the women who simply enjoy making themselves look a certain way? Those of us who choose to express our personalities with certain fashion choices? Is the way we look an open call for harassment? No, it is not.
Speaking with other women in the Counselling Directory office, we can all recall times when men have made us feel uncomfortable, whether it’s a group of men following us to work in a van, waving and getting too close or a couple of ‘lads’ rolling down their window to shout expletives while we walk in the street.
Did we ask for this? No.
Should the way we look be taken into account? No.
And finally, do we accept any blame for this? Hell no.