Broadcaster Anne Robinson has sparked fury after wading into the sexual harassment row by discussing the “fragility of women who aren’t able to cope with the treachery of the workplace”.
The former host of The Weakest Link was joined by the Royal Court theatre’s artistic director, Vicky Featherstone, in a discussion on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
Over the weekend Prime Minister Theresa May ordered a Cabinet Office inquiry into whether International Trade Minister Mark Garnier had breached the ministerial code over claims that he asked his Commons secretary to buy sex toys and called her “sugar tits”.
And former culture secretary Maria Miller claimed earlier this month that she had been sexually harassed “numerous times”.
“Even a former female cabinet minister is now telling us how bad it is,” Robinson said.
“It’s the first time she’s spoken out …These women are there to protect other people.
“Why has this come to us now? Why haven’t they been fighting for some sort of recognition of this behaviour? Why?”
Robinson added: “In the early days, 40 years ago, there were very few of us women in power and, I have to say, we had a much more robust attitude to men behaving badly.
“Now what seems to have happened, the glass ceiling has been shattered but running alongside that is a sort of fragility amongst women who aren’t able to cope with the treachery of the workplace.
“It shouldn’t be happening but, on the other hand, why have women lost confidence and why do, certainly MPs, a PA to a trade minister, feel they have to get and buy sex toys when they’re asked to? I despair.”
She added: “How come the Prime Minister, only 24 hours ago, decided this was a problem … What has happened is it has become inconvenient to ignore it anymore…
“It shouldn’t be going on but it would be helpful …. if women, particularly older women and women in power, stopped it being tolerated. There needs to be a collective amongst women.”
Her comments provoked outrage.
@gailf wrote: “Now we have Anne Robinson blaming women for not speaking out – she clearly doesn’t understand the balance of power in all cases. If you speak out people don’t believe you.”
Now we have Anne Robinson blaming women for not speaking out - she clearly doesn't understand the balance of power in ALL cases. If you speak out people don't believe you #r4today— Gail Freeman-Bell (@gailf_b) October 30, 2017
@Peasoup wrote: “Anne Robinson is a dinosaur who should not be given air time.”
Anne Robinson is a dinosaur who should not be given air time #radio4Today— Reginald the Idiot (@Peasoup) October 30, 2017
@tealtastic wrote of the broadcaster, who also spoke on the issue on Victoria Derbyshire’s TV show: “Shame on Anne Robinson. This is classic victim blaming. Absolutely disgusted. Get her off the air.”
Her comments come in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein allegations, and as actor Kevin Space apologised for any “inappropriate drunken behaviour” with a 14-year-old in 1986.