Laura Fensterheim writes for the University of Sheffield’s Forge Today on the dismissal of sexual harassment at the BBC as “locker room culture”:
We’ve all watched or listened to a BBC programme. Whether gyrating along to the latest hit on Radio 1, or watching a dulcet-toned David Attenborough narrate the life cycle of polar bears, the BBC represents comfort, Britishness: a beacon of impartiality amidst a sea of increasingly biased and privately controlled media empires.
However, allegations this week from two of its prominent female stars, Sandi Toksvig and Liz Kershaw, have revealed an altogether more grimy and lecherous undertone to the institution’s wholesome exterior. Coinciding with a slew of long-buried sexual abuse allegations concerning Jimmy Savile, claims emerging only this week that both Toksvig and Kershaw were “groped” on air during the 1980s does nothing to distract from the image of the BBC as a hub of concealment away from the bounds of public view.
You may cry – why all the fuss? Why are the lascivious urges of a few randy individuals thirty years ago still relevant today? Except – being sexually assaulted is no joke. Nor, as Kershaw and Toksvig both claim, is the subsequent light hearted reaction of their colleagues in the BBC, sexual harassment dismissed as part of a “locker room culture”, a ‘bit of banter’, a source of amusement. Emerging from the gloom only a week ago, these allegations highlight the urgent need for more transparency: to build a culture in which all forms of sexism and sexual harassment can be freely and openly reported. By sweeping aside sexual assault as a product of ‘lad culture’, the BBC and society as a whole throws a tacit ‘green light’ to the perpetuation of sexually intimidating behaviour…
Full article here.