As the celebs enter the I'm A Celebrity jungle, writer Lucy Vine argues why presenter Michael Buerk shouldn't be part of the line-up
You know what’s depressing? It’s that almost-Christmas, I’m A Celeb time of year and I should be writing something fun about kangeroo testicles. Instead, I’m pissed off and stuck in a never-ending black hole of awfulness Googling stats on ‘rape statistics’ and ‘victim blaming’.
That’s because presenter and newscaster Michael Buerk is part of this year’s line-up and he is a rape apologist, who doesn’t really seem to like women.
I’m talking about comments Michael made in October that mostly went unnoticed. It was about the case of convicted rapist, footballer Ched Evans, who was released from prison and returned to his life and girlfriend, while his victim was illegally named on Twitter, bombarded with threats and forced to move house and change her identity to escape the abuse.
‘Nobody comes out of the Ched Evans rape case with any credit,’ Michael said, bewilderingly. ‘Not the victim who’d drunk so much she could barely stand, nor the two footballers.’
This is called victim blaming. It’s the same thing as saying, ‘Oh, if she hadn’t worn a short skirt, or if she hadn’t smiled at him, or if she hadn’t left the house that day, or if she hadn’t been born with a vagina – she wouldn’t have been raped.’
How are we still having this conversation?
The radio station where he made his comments issued an immediate apology, and Michael gave the best #sorrynotsorry ever, with, ‘If I gave the impression that the two issues of her being drunk and the rape for which Ched Evans was convicted were some sort of moral equivalent, that would be terrible and something I would need to apologise for.’
Would would would.
He added a ‘however’ and then a ‘perhaps’ and ended by saying it was ‘clumsy mentioning it.’
OK, yeah. We all know this kind of horrible unpeeling of the victims’ behaviour isn’t uncommon. It’s so grossly prevalent all around the world, that it almost seems unfair to be picking on Michael.
Let’s take Turkey, for example, where a recent survey found that a third of police officers agreed that ‘some women deserve rape’ and 66% agreed that ‘the physical appearance and behaviors of women tempt men to rape.’
But that’s exactly why it’s so important to point it out and call people on their ignorance.
Or maybe you think he misspoke. Maybe he did. So what about those other moments his disdain for women have leaked out?
Like in 2005 when Michael said in an interview that the ‘shift in the balance of power between the sexes’ has gone too far. And that we need to ‘admit the problem’ that men are now little more than ‘sperm donors’. And went on to complain about how many women were now in senior positions within the BBC.
And a TV series on Channel Five called Don’t Get Me Started which included an episode called ‘Michael Buerk on What Are Men For?’ which we haven’t watched because yuck, but is described as featuring ‘Michael arguing that men and masculinity are being eroded by women.’
Or when he said it’s fine to sack older women on TV, saying, ‘If you got the job in the first place mainly because you look nice, I can’t see why you should keep it when you don’t.’
For context, you guys: 30% of on-screen presenters are over the age of 50 and 82% of them are men. So Michael‘s getting his way.
How about more recently, when he wrote an article about the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, where he referred to a female presenter (Tess Daly) as ‘a pneumatic bird-brain from Strictly Come Dancing [talking] to transvestites’.
He’s going in the jungle and there’s not much I can do about it, and at 68, I guess he’s unlikely to change his opinions. He might even continue to say them out loud and then later half-heartedly retract them. But I just think it’s important to say that I don’t like them.
And it’s also important to highlight why I don’t like them and why this shouldn’t be dismissed as unimportant:
a quarter of a million rapes or attempted rapes are recorded annually
with around 95,000 estimated victims in England and Wales.
figure doesn’t even touch the sides, as government research says that
between 75% and 95% of rape crimes are never reported.
-Probably because only about 3% of rapists ever spend a day in jail.
I’m sorry to be picking on you Michael, but all these concessions people keep making to rapists, and the oh-buts that plague high profile rape cases, do not help anyone. Except rapists.
I hope you get to eat a kangeroo testicle.