Screen legend Dame Angela Lansbury says women must sometimes “take the blame” for sexual harassment or assault they experience because they constantly work hard to make themselves look attractive to men.
The 92-year-old former Murder, She Wrote star told the Radio Times in an interview Tuesday that there are “two sides” to the coin when it comes to sexual harassment.
“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,” Lansbury said, according to the Telegraph.
“We must sometimes take blame, women. I really do think that,” she added. “Although it’s awful to say we can’t make ourselves look as attractive as possible without being knocked down and raped.”
Lansbury’s comments come as dozens of men in Hollywood have been accused of various forms of sexual harassment, assault, and rape in recent weeks. The wave of allegations against prominent figures in entertainment and media — which include claims against director-producer Brett Ratner, actor Jeremy Piven, and newsman Charlie Rose, among numerous others — was first sparked by a New York Times report detailing decades’ worth of assault allegations against now-disgraced film producer Harvey Weinstein.
The six-time Golden Globe-winner told Radio Times she never experienced harassment herself while coming up through the Hollywood studio system in the 1940s, but also stressed that individual women were not to blame for their own victimization.
“Should women be prepared for this? No, they shouldn’t have to be. There’s no excuse for that,” she said. “And I think it will stop now. It will have to. I think a lot of men must be very worried at this point.”
Lansbury’s comments drew condemnation from some social media users, as well as from the women’s advocacy group Rape Crisis England & Wales.
“It is a deeply unhelpful myth that rape and other forms of sexual violence are caused or ‘provoked’ by women’s sexuality or ‘attractiveness,'” the group said in a statement Tuesday.
Follow Daniel Nussbaum on Twitter: @dznussbaum