Jo Brand silences all-male panel on Have I Got News for You with perfect explanation of why sexual harassment isn't funny

 'If you’re constantly being harassed, even in a small way, that wears you down,' says comedian

Harriet Agerholm@HarrietAgerholm
Saturday 04 November 2017 13:01
Jo Brand rebukes Have I Got News for You panel for sex harassment jokes

Comedian Jo Brand has been lauded for delivering a sharp rebuke to an all-male panel on Have I Got News For You, after they appeared to downplay claims of sexual harassment in Westminster.

Responding to a headline about an MP taking his personal trainer to the cinema, journalist Ian Hislop said: “Some of this is not high-level crime, is it, compared to Putin or Trump.”

Ms Brand, who was guest host on the BBC show, responded: “If I can just say – as the only representative of the female gender here today – I know it’s not high-level, but it doesn’t have to be high-level for women to feel under siege in somewhere like the House of Commons.

“Actually, women, if you’re constantly being harassed, even in a small way, that builds up and that wears you down."

She added: “Sorry, I thought I was on Question Time for a minute.”

Mr Hislop replied: “No, and as you point out with four blokes sitting around you we’re hardly in a position to say, ‘That’s rubbish’.”

At another point during the show, journalist Quentin Letts called broadcaster Julia Hartley-Brewer "a big strong girl".

Ms Brand responded: "She’s a woman, Quentin, she’s not a girl.”

Leader of the UK Women’s Equality Party, Sophie Walker, said in a Twitter post the programme "presents one woman explaining sexual harassment to four white men who still think it's bantz”.

The Times columnist Caitlin Moran said: “YES YES YES YES. Enjoy: faces of men learning something.”

Radio 4 announced in August it was launching a woman-led series created and presented by Have I Got News For You producer Jo Bunting.

Where's the F in News will host a predominantly female panel, who will use current affairs as a "starting point for a number of fresh and funny challenges".

A spreadsheet compiled by Tory aides featuring a wide range of allegations of inappropriate sexual behaviour by Conservative MPs was leaked last Sunday. While some of the allegations are serious, a number of claims relate to consensual relationships.

A number of other sexual harassment allegations have been levelled at politicians in recent days.

The Conservative Party said it had suspended the whip from the MP Charlie Elphicke after what it called serious allegations had been referred to the police. Mr Elphicke criticised his party on Twitter, saying it "tipped off the press before telling me of my suspension". He added: "I am not aware of what the alleged claims are and deny wrongdoing".

It came after Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon resigned on Wednesday saying he had "fallen below the high standards" required of the armed forces. Downing Street was presented with details of an alleged sexual assault by hours before he resigned on Wednesday, The Times reported on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Labour has said it is investigating an official complaint that Clive Lewis MP groped a woman at the party conference in September. He denied the allegation.

The party has suspended its MP for Luton North, Kelvin Hopkins, after allegations of sexual misconduct were made against him. He also denied the accusations.

A QC has been hired by Labour to investigate claims by activist Bex Bailey that her rape allegations were not dealt with properly.

Labour and the Conservatives have both announced new policies to deal with sexual harassment.

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