This Morning joins 'bum-touching' debate

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.

Published 19/02/2013 12:00

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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