This Morning joins 'bum-touching' debate

Published Tuesday, 19 February 2013
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Comments made by actor Jeremy Irons about his love of touching people have sparked a heated This Morning debate about whether a cheeky bum pinch is innocent flirtation or borderline harassment.

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Irons has reportedly said he was misquoted, but that he stands by the general sentiment that it's okay to touch women's bottoms - because "any self-respecting woman will tell you if they mind".

This Morning's presenters Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby were joined by journalist Liz Fraser and Laurie Penny to debate the issue.

Laurie Penny insisted it wasn't about feminism, just manners and consent.

"It's about whether or not somebody wants you to touch them," she said.

"And surely we're living in the 21st century, this is not 1953 - we should have some sort of social dialogue whereby it's all right to touch someone if they want you to touch them."

Liz Fraser agreed that she was quite capable of telling someone if she didn't want to be touched by them, but argued that crying harassment portrayed women as weak.

"Phillip, you are very welcome to touch my bottom if you'd like to. If I don't want you to, I will tell you I don't want you to - because I'm a woman, not a child," she said.

"I'm confused now, as a man," Phillip confessed.

What would you do? You would not do nothing!

Holly Willoughby

Throughout the debate, Holly said that she would be outraged if someone grabbed her bum.

"I think I'd go berserk. And I would. But thinking about it, I'd be so shocked and then I'd think: 'Oh my goodness, I'd better not make a scene'," she said.

"And then I'd think: 'Did I do something to make them think that was all right?' And all of those things I think are almost wrong that it puts that question on you - now I'm questioning myself!"

During the debate, a 65% majority of viewers voted in agreement with Laurie Penny's stance against bum-touching.

"And let me just say that something like that would not happen in this building," Phillip added wryly, before showing footage from a cookery session where he planted floury handprints on his co-presenter's bum!

"But that's different because you're a friend and that's okay," Holly said to laughter in the studio.

"But if it was a stranger, you know what would happen ..."

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7 Comments
Mark in Northern Ireland wrote (423 days ago):
Sadly we now live in a world where it is against the law to play conkers we have become a bubble wrapped nation so giving a simple gentle pat on the bum is totally wrong that could see you land in jail
Karen in Dublin wrote (423 days ago):
Well wolf whistling is harassment. It can be intimidating and, contrary to a man's ego, not the highlight of a woman's day. Also it is the right to comment that is in question in wolf whistling and the fact that many men do not leave it at whistling. Check out Hollaback. Touching someone without their consent is never a good idea whether man or woman, it is about a human being's right to bodily autonomy. Go and read some of the harassment stories on Hollaback, you will be shocked. We live in a culture that objectifies and sexualises women
Ben in Dublin wrote (423 days ago):
I've had women pinch my bum, ive had men grab my crotch. Its just people messing about, ive never thought about it been harrassment and never will.
Dave in Bath wrote (423 days ago):
I have had my bum smacked at work and did not mind but I did say to the female manager, 'if I had done that to you HR would be involved now!
chris in belfast wrote (424 days ago):
pinching is a social 'grey' area. its difficult to decide if its harrasment or not, the very act of doing it can be applied to many different situations and also interpreted in many different ways. for example, pinching in a club can be seen as a sexual advance, but in the work place can be misconstrude as harrassment. personally i believe theres nothing wrong with a pinch.
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