Last week one of our National Treasures, Joanna Lumley, gave advice to young women. “Don’t look like trash. Don’t get drunk. Don’t be sick down your front. Don’t break your heels and stagger about in the wrong clothes at midnight. This is bad”. Even the Daily Mail, not normally known for its feminist stance, was outraged. See article.
Joanna Lumley has achieved fame in many ways – as a model in the 1960s, as Purdy in the New Avengers in the 1970s (I adored her so much I had the haircut),as a spokesman for the Gurkhas, but most notably, and probably most lucratively, as Patsy in Ab Fab.
So, how do women feel about taking this sort of advice from a woman who has made her fortune from portraying drunkenness for laughs? And does Joanna understand that many factors may come into play when a young woman goes out and gets drunk? Does she understand that by using the word “trash” she is joining ranks of (usually male) judges whose response to a woman being attacked when out for the night is that she asked for it? I had believed that thinking people had long ago ditched the idea that how you dress and what you drink means you are somehow complicit when someone attacks you.
The message I think she was trying to get across is that women may become vulnerable when they are intoxicated, and that’s a message I would agree with. She says “this is bad”, but her words put the emphasis on the woman’s behaviour, whereas the thing that is really bad is the taking advantage of the woman. What a shame she missed the opportunity to make that point. Joanna, people listen to you. Please think about that next time.