Posted on Jan 20, 2017

    A Sky News Presenter Asked If Drunk Women Deserve To Be Sexually Assaulted If They Are "Provoking Somebody"

    "Is it a dreadful thing to say that if women are out in short skirts and drunk that they don’t need to take any personal responsibility?" Stephen Dixon said.

    This morning Sky News Sunrise presenter Stephen Dixon asked if women are to blame if they are sexually assaulted when they are drunk and wearing a short skirt.

    Sky News

    Dixon was discussing a new report on hostility against women by the Fawcett Society that found that 1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men believe drunk women wearing short skirts are partly to blame if they are sexually assaulted.

    On Big big Sky news what is happening to this country. Speechless

    "Is it a dreadful thing to say that if women are out in short skirts and drunk that they don’t need to take any personal responsibility?" Dixon said.

    Challenged by another of the show's guests on whether he would deserve to be punched if he left the house, Dixon responded: "I’d be responsible if I was out provoking somebody."

    As the clip of Dixon's comments began to circulate on Twitter, many expressed outrage at the presenter's attitude.

    My daughter's 9, @skystephen. Could you tell me at what point I stop being responsible for her clothing choices sho… https://t.co/3VvfUqtk59

    Dear @skystephen, its men committing assaults that need to start taking personal responsibility, not women being assaulted

    Ever wonder why women don't report rape & sexual assault? Narratives like this which forever blame the victim & don… https://t.co/C80RVSHUtn

    Responding to criticism on Twitter, Dixon appeared to stand by his comments. "What's wrong with taking some personal responsibility?" he asked one critic.

    Dixon then claimed to have been misunderstood.

    "What is terrible for everyone is when an issue can't be discussed without accusations flying," he tweeted to another critic who said he was "promoting the myth that women are 'asking for it' depending on what they wear".

    A spokesperson for the charity End Violence Against Women told BuzzFeed News that messages like Dixon's acted as a "strong deterrent" for women reporting assaults, and called his comments "incredibly alarming".

    "This reporter should set a tone much higher than the victim-blaming attitudes which support and perpetuate violence against women," the spokesperson said.

    "The myth that women are responsible for protecting their safety against the actions of abusive and violent men is particularly dangerous.

    "When we engage in this sort of victim-blaming, such as suggesting that how much alcohol a woman drinks or what she wears bears any relation to whether she is deserving of a sexual assault, we remove the responsibility from the perpetrator.

    "These messages, which women hear all the time, act as a strong deterrent for reporting assaults. Women understandably become concerned that they will not be believed, or will be blamed for their own attack."

    Sam Smethers, chief executive of the Fawcett Society, told BuzzFeed News it was Dixon who needed to learn about personal responsibility.


    "The only person responsible if a woman is attacked is her attacker," Smethers said.

    “We need a media that reports violence against women and girls responsibly not one where they just reinforce these hostile attitudes.

    " It is this kind of thing that can deter women from reporting attacks and can let men feel they can act with impunity.”

    A spokesperson for Sky News said: "In his capacity as presenter, Stephen was playing devil’s advocate during a discussion of the controversial findings of the Fawcett report. He was not reflecting a personal view."


    Laura Silver is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

    Contact Laura Silver at laura.silver@buzzfeed.com.

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