BBC Newsnight Debated Sexual Assault & Harassment With A Male-Dominated Panel

This week's news cycle has been dominated, quite rightly, by incredibly important conversations about sexual assault and harassment. Yesterday, Michael Fallon resigned as defence secretary after admitting his behaviour towards women had "fallen below the high standards" that someone in his position should maintain. The BBC's Newsnight programme decided to discuss the issue from the male perspective, with a segment titled: "The Problem With Men."
Hosts Emily Maitlis and Evan Davis were joined in the studio by a panel of 12 men sitting opposite just three women, who had another two men sitting behind them. As Sky News journalist Mollie Goodfellow pointed out on Twitter, this gave the programme an "odd dynamic" that seemed to reduce women's role in a conversation which pertains directly to their safety and wellbeing.
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Other viewers also tweeted to say they were confused and offended by the programme's "misguided" approach, which allowed men with some pretty unreconstructed views to share their thoughts on sexual assault and harassment. One of the male panellists even complained that the debate reflected the fact that "this PC (political correctness) has gone to such an extreme these days."
Newsnight's deputy editor, Jess Brammar, defended the programme's format on Twitter, saying: "The idea was to get men into the studio to discuss this, rather than repeatedly watch women try to explain these issues and behaviour."
She added: "We have, and will continue to, put women on night after night to talk about their experiences. We decided to have an audience of men tonight."
In fairness, Newsnight did include in the discussion new YouGov data revealing that 96% of people believe that trying to take an upskirt photo - or "upskirting" - constitutes sexual harassment. Refinery29 has teamed up with Gina Martin and Eliza Hatch, creator of Cheer up Luv, to launch the #StopSkirtingTheIssue campaign lobbying the government to make upskirting a sexual offence.
Newsnight's mishandling of the sexual assault and harassment debate only shows how far we have to go. Until the voices of women and male victims are placed front and centre of this conversation, real progress just won't be made fast enough.
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