Open Letter to Ian Dempsey 24/04/2013

Monday (22nd April) show’s ‘Great Story in the Papers Today’ segment referred to the Daily Mail article about the Benny Hill-style gang who lean out of car windows to slap the bottoms of women riding bikes. It was presented as a piece of harmless entertainment, to chuckle at those ‘silly men’.

This trivialisation of sexual assault and harassment of women in public spaces is contributing to the prevalence of rape culture in Irish society today. If the assault (because that’s what it is when someone touches you without your permission) is made light of, especially sexual assault, this devalues women to the extent where the line of what’s acceptable is blurred.

To participate in this farce by using the Benny Hill song to introduce the story and to then liken the endangerment of those women’s lives (as you rightly pointed out, who are put in danger if they swerve into oncoming traffic) to a Monty Python sketch is unthinkably dangerous.

All people, regardless of gender, should be allowed to go outside into public space and exercise without fear of intimidation or sexual harassment. To feel safe in public space is a right, and we ask you to join Hollaback in promoting safe spaces for everyone – not just the select few. We have posted about this on both the Belfast and Dublin Hollaback sites

We have started a petition to give voice to those who would like an apology for the segment, and to encourage discussion of the increasing trivisation of rape culture in Ireland.

We would welcome the opportunity to come on the show to discuss this further.


The full show is here, and the offending clip is about 29 minutes into part 2 (Ian Dempsey Show, Monday April 22nd)



Hollaback! Belfast & Hollaback! Dublin

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