Angela Lansbury is a 92-year-old actress. She’s from a different time, and once voiced an animated teapot. Okay? Okay. But her words on women being partially to blame for harassment, based on their attractiveness, left my feather duster ruffled. I don’t care how well she sang Tale as Old as Time. From Radio Times:
“There are two sides to this coin,” Lansbury, 92, said. “We have to own up to the fact that women, since time immemorial, have gone out of their way to make themselves attractive. And unfortunately it has backfired on us — and this is where we are today.
Note Lansbury is using the word “attractive.” Not to be confused with “provocative.” Attractive is a moving target. It means something different to everyone. What’s “attractive” to one person is not to another. Provocative has a different denotation. To dress provocatively is to invite attention. Women may dress provocatively at a club, or if they’re out on a “hot” date. With the intention of getting a man’s attention. Especially a sexual attention.
But Lansbury said “attractive.” To my knowledge, she wasn’t corrected and didn’t correct herself to use “provocative” or equal synonym. She repeated “attractive” as she clarified:
“We must sometimes take blame, women,” she continued. “I really do think that. Although it’s awful to say we can’t make ourselves look as attractive as possible without being knocked down and raped.”
“Attractive” can be replaced with “looks nice.” Or in some cases, simply “groomed.”
Most men are not creepy perverts and will not rape a woman regardless of her style of dress. Okay? Okay.
What I don’t like seeing is blame placed on women for being attractive to men. Or “looking nice.” Sorry, but I have to pull a red card. A man should not be excused for being a creep or harasser simply because he found a woman attractive. A woman dressed well, who has groomed herself, isn’t to blame for a man abusing her. Or raping her. How is this hard?
Straddling both sides of this argument is Angela Lansbury:
However, Lansbury does not believe harassment is exculpatory. “Should women be prepared for this? No, they shouldn’t have to be!” she said. “There’s no excuse for that. And I think it will stop now – it will have to. I think a lot of men must be very worried at this point.”
So which is it? Are “attractive” women to blame for men being creeps? Or are men to blame for men being creeps?
It’s one thing to acknowledge human nature: men like attractive women, women like attractive men. It’s science. Biology. How we get together to procreate.
But to say “women are partially to blame because they’re attractive” almost insulates men from bad behavior. “Why did you harass this woman?” With him answering, “She smiled at me, she was asking for it.” Or “She’s wearing makeup, she made herself pretty for me.” Or my personal favorite: “She would’ve liked it had I been a handsome billionaire.” Ergo, sex? Ergo unwanted touching? Making lewd comments?
Confused guys: telling a woman she looks nice is a compliment. Following her around pestering her, because she looks nice, when she’s told you (sometimes repeatedly) to eff off, is harassment. This shouldn’t be hard. I’m sorry tools like Lena Dunham have muddied the waters with her harassment hyperbole, but we should all know when someone is being a real freak.
Reminder to guys who aren’t sure where the line is between banter and full on Buffalo Bill It Puts the Lotion on Its Skin: there are always sex dolls. If a real woman won’t have your companionship, you can always program the woman of your dreams. Batteries not included.
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