Ex-MP Ann Widdecombe has been hit with accusations of ‘victim blaming’, following a Celebrity Big Brother discussion on the Harvey Weinstein case and wider sexual assault.
Widdecombe entered the Big Brother house on Tuesday (January 2) to launch the show’s 21st season. She is part of the show’s first all-female line-up, chosen to celebrate 100 years of women getting the vote, alongside Amanda Barrie, Ashley James, India Willoughby, Jess Impiazzi, Maggie Oliver, Malika Haqq and Rachel Johnson. Several men are set to be added to the line-up at a later date.
The show’s latest controversy arose after the housemates began to discuss the recent allegations of sexual assault made against disgraced Hollywood exec Harvey Weinstein. Asked by newsreader Willoughby if she’d ever been discriminated against when it came to casting, Benidrom actress Barrie replied: “When it comes to Harvey Weinstein … I just think somebody should have said, ‘It’s not really worth it darling, I’d rather not get the part!'”
“I tend to agree – there was a choice,” responded Widdecombe, in a move that’s sparked outrage online.
One Twitter-using viewer wrote: “There’s a choice to sleep with someone for a part. There’s not a choice to be sexually assaulted. There’s a MASSIVE difference.” Another stated that they were “already fuming at half of them excusing Harvey Weinstein’s behaviour.”
It’s far from the first time Widdecombe has been at the centre of such scandals – the former MP famously campaigned against abortion rights and same-sex marriage, defended ‘gay conversion’ therapy, and dubbed allegations of sexual assault within Westminster ‘nonsense’.
There’s a choice to sleep with someone for a part. There’s not a choice to be sexually assaulted. There’s a MASSIVE difference. #CBB
— Sophie 🏳️🌈 (@OnceUponASophie) January 3, 2018
Weinstein has been at the centre of a criminal investigation since late October, after an extensive outpouring of allegations including rape and sexual assault from women in both America and the UK. He “unequivocally denies” any non-consensual sex.
Earlier this week, Channel 5 came under scrutiny for airing a ‘disgusting’ episode of One Night With My Ex – which featured footage of an abusive and manipulative relationship – directly after CBB.
The show – which reunites former couples for one night to talk things over – attracted complaints last night (January 2) after its season premiere featured a man angrily confronting his ex-girlfriend after she disclosed that she’d been on a date since their split.
The former couple, Amy and Tom, were filmed in conversation about their relationship, with Tom at one point angrily telling Amy: “I think you fucked it… You need to think very carefully about what you’re gonna say next”, before he then stormed off set.
Many viewers took issue with the confrontation on social media, with some highlighting the particularly insensitive timing of the controversial episode as it aired just after the special launch of this year’s Celebrity Big Brother.