SPIKY Anne Robinson angered feminists everywhere earlier this month when she said women needed to show “more strength” and must accept that workplaces are “sexually treacherous” environments.
But in her new documentary, The Trouble With Women, the former Weakest Link presenter speaks to women from all walks of life and unearths a shocking crisis that leaves her questioning her own stern perspective.
Anne saw herself as a trailblazer of women rights and breaking the glass ceiling 50 years ago
At the outset of the programme, made to tie-in with the 100th anniversary of women getting the vote, the 73-year-old telly star admits she thinks women are regressing in the fight for equality and that they are too quick to think they are being mistreated just because they’re women.
Anne, who saw herself as a trailblazer of women rights, says: “Am I condoning sexual harassment? Of course I’m not! but it is frustrating that the generations after me weren’t the warriors we had been”.
Anne met up with girls from all walks of life – including these grid girls
Anne spends time with females up and down the country – from school kids to grid girls – to see whether women really have become weaker – or if in light of #MeToo and revelations on the gender pay gap, women are being marginalised now more than ever.
Stuck in the past
Anne begins her journey visiting a London primary school to meet some of the youngest members of the population.
She asks them to draw pictures of three professional people – a mechanic, a surgeon and a firefighter – and to name them too. In a classroom next door, Anne asks the children’s parents to do the same.
She doesn’t specify which sex the drawings should be to either group, but in both groups, nearly all of them draw men.
Suffragette Emily Davison throws herself under the King’s horse at the 1913 Epsom Derby
Anne then brings in three females – a mechanic, a surgeon and a firefighter – leaving the children shocked and the parents embarrassed.
“The results are exactly the same as 30 years ago,” Anne says. “Thirty years ago the world looked very different and yet the views of seven-year-olds simply haven’t changed.”
Times Newspapers Ltd Many see Anne as the woman who broke the glass ceiling for women in journalism
Wildly offensive public behaviour
Next, Anne meets up with a number of young women in their twenties to talk about the inequality they feel is present in modern day Britain.
“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been on a tube and a man has put his hard d**k against my bum and rubbed it on a rush hour tube,” one woman tells her.
“I got w**ked at on the tube when I was 14,” she continues. “A man started looking at my breasts and masturbated. I think it’s a deep-rooted issue we have in society and I don’t think it’s improved that much because this still happens.”
In a moment of reflection, a clearly-shocked Anne admits she expected sexual harassment in this form to have died out years ago and that maybe things are a lot worse than she realised.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been on a tube and a man has put his hard d*** against my bum and rubbed it on a rush hour tube
What Anne discovers about gender inequality
Women do over 154 per cent more housework and laundry than men. Women have only a 23 per cent of highest jobs in Britain. Women are half as likely to ask for a pay rise as men. Women make up 62 per cent of workers earning less than the living wage.
The pay gap
Anne finishes her whirlwind tour of the UK by visiting home carers and campaigners from Glasgow who have been fighting for 10 years to receive the same wages as local bin men and gardeners.
The ladies she spends time with earn on average £3 less an hour than males doing similar low-paid jobs.
Anne has now admitted things might not have been as easy for women as she thought
Anne says: “I started this journey with a fair amount of despair and frustration that women were going backwards and doing nothing to establish their position of equality”.
“But actually what I’ve realised is the amount of revelations we’ve had in the last year have caused a revelation for men and women.”
After having her opinions challenged – and in some cases changed – Anne, with her usual wit and fervour, makes a plea for all women to be free to do whatever they want, so that in the next 100 years they will have travelled further along the road to equality.
The Trouble With Women with Anne Robinson airs on Thursday at 9pm on BBC One.