The sexual harassment problem continues to grow. Not only are more and more men alleged to act improperly towards women and/or losing their jobs for the accusations, but women are also getting in trouble for their comments.
Dame Angela Lansbury, the 92-year-old actress, recently stated that women “must sometimes take blame” in sexual harassment. “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.” She added that there’s “no excuse” whatsoever for sexual assault and women should not have to risk assault because they want to “look attractive.”
Lansbury’s comment makes sense to me, but “Twitter users were highly critical of Lansbury, accusing her of victim-blaming.” She released the following statement about the reaction caused by her comments.
I am troubled by how quickly and brutishly some have taken my comments out of context and attempted to blame my generation, my age, or my mindset, without having read the entirety of what I said. There is no excuse whatsoever for men to harass women in an abusive sexual manner. And, I am devastated that anyone should deem me capable of thinking otherwise.
Those who have known the quality of my work and the many public statements I have made over the course of my life, must know, that I am a strong supporter of women’s rights.
Candace Owens of The Federalist came to Lansbury’s defense. She admits that Lansbury’s comments are “somewhat confusing” but says that they “contain some needed common sense. She continues with this paragraph.
From her comments it’s not fully clear how she thinks we should parse uncomfortable or adverse sexual situations, but she’s right to push back on narratives that say every accusation should be instantly believed, that all men are likely to abuse women, and that women never make bad choices that create or worsen unwanted sexual encounters.
People do unconscionable things. It’s an inextricable condition of our humanity. In preparation for this, we’ve learned to take certain precautions. To prevent burglary, we lock our doors. We keep an eye on our children when they are on playgrounds. Yet what we consider basic, daily acts of personal responsibility suspiciously halt when the topic shifts to sexual assault.
Visiting a man in his hotel room in the wee hours of the morning after a night of drinking would not fall under “good decision-making” by any stretch of the imagination, yet you will find yourself doused in holy water by self-proclaimed feminists for daring to utter such common sense logic.
I believe that Lansbury and Owens are saying one and the same thing. No one wants to blame the genuine victims of sexual assault who should be loved and supported, but someone needs to tell women to grow up and take responsibility for their own safety. No one is able to sexually assault a woman in a hotel room if she refuses to go to the hotel room in the first place. If she is physically forced into the room, then she becomes a genuine victim. If she goes into the room of her own free will, it is a different story and she must accept some responsibility for whatever happens there. Owens suggests a question that every woman should ask herself: What good can come from visiting a man in the privacy of his hotel room in the wee hours of the morning? If the woman cannot come up with a good answer, she should decline the invitation.
I believe that many sexual assaults could be avoided if young women were previously taught about the dangers to be found by being in a man’s hotel room in the wee hours of the morning. Parents should also teach their sons to behave properly around women and children. Where were the parents, and what were they doing when they were supposed to be teaching their children about personal safety and proper relationships?
I also believe that numerous assaults could be avoided if women would use common sense and stay away from bad situations and if employers would maintain a safe working environment for their employees.
However, I want to be completely clear: The perpetrator is responsible for the assault and should face accountability. No one has the right to sexually assault anyone at any time!