Joanna Lumley: 'Being patted on the bottom is not assault'

'In those days, there used to be men whose hands would linger on your waist'

The actress Joanna Lumley has spoken out against historic sexual assault claims, saying things have “gone quite far now”.

In an interview with The Times Magazine, the Absolutely Fabulous star said that it was a “difficult” issue but suggested that certain actions were a product of their time.

Ms Lumley said: “In those days, there used to be men whose hands would linger on your waist. That always went on. As for being insulted, you learn graceful ways to get round it.

“This is not dissing the women who have had their lives wrecked, although why some took 50 years to say it, I don’t know. It’s difficult. Of course we want people who have been raped to be treated seriously at the police station, which I don’t think they were [back then], but I think it could have gone quite far now."

She added: “Being patted on the bottom, no. It’s not assault.”

Ms Lumley, who is 68 next month, began her career as a model in London in the 1960s, when many of the alleged offences are said to have taken place.

Asked whether she had ever suffered from “wandering-hand syndrome”, Ms Lumley said “it just became what men did”.

And she suggested that women should also take responsibility for men’s behaviour towards them.

Referring to a speech delivered by Sister Elizabeth at her convent school, Ms Lumley recalled: “She had never known a man in the biblical sense, but was tremendously wise and when we were in the fifth or sixth form, she said, ‘Don’t lead men on because they get to a point when they really can’t stop, and it’s not fair, so don’t do it and don’t be silly. They are different from us in that way’.

“I thought, ‘What a wise thing.’”

The glamorous actress, who recently played Aunt Emma alongside Leonardo DiCaprio in Martin Scorsese’s Wolf of Wall Street also said that while she views herself as a feminist in terms of “equal pay for equal work”, she also sees fundamental differences between men and women.

"This revolution was bound to come, that women are the same as men, but I don’t think women are the same as men.

“I just feel that we think differently, achieve things by different methods. I think women like chitter-chattering together and I don’t think men do. I think men like board meetings, and I am not sure women love them quite so much. I think women tend to use fewer utensils when cooking than men. I think women like buying new things rather too often while it is hard to get men to part with an old friendly garment."

She added: “But I don’t even think of myself as a woman, just a person. Not even a person: a pair of eyes on a periscope stick.”

A number of high-profile figures have appeared in court on historic sexual assault charges. Last summer former BBC broadcaster Stuart Hall, 84, was sentenced to 30 months for sexually abusing girls between 1967 and 1985.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Ashdown Group: HR Manager - West London - £50,000

£40000 - £50000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: HR Manager - West London - £...

Recruitment Genius: Recruitment & HR Administrator

£17000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Guru Careers: HR Manager / HR Business Partner

£55 - 65k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: A HR Manager / HR Business Partner i...

Recruitment Genius: Senior HR Assistant

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Company's vision is to be t...

Day In a Page

Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map
Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

This was the year of 24-carat Golden Oldies