A BBC Radio Norfolk presenter has been asked to apologise on air for comments he made during a phone-in about former Norwich City footballer and convicted rapist, Ched Evans. The Radio Norfolk presenter has reportedly apologised behind the scenes, but only a full apology on air would make amends for his remarks, local Labour Parliamentary candidates have stated.
Nick Conrad, whose mid-morning BBC Radio Norfolk programme can attract thousands of listeners across Norfolk, has been accused of perpetuating rape culture with his remarks in the week before Norfolk Says No to Sexual Abuse and Domestic Violence which coincides with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. This year's campaign runs from 24 - 28 November.
Local representatives of women’s organisations and Deputy Police & Crime Commissioner Jenny McKibben have also added their concern at Mr Conrad’s comments in an article in the Eastern Daily Press today.
In his programme on Tuesday (17th November), Mr Conrad said: "I think women need to be more aware of a man's sexual desire that when you're in that position that you are about to engage in sexual activity there's a huge amount of energy in the male body, there's a huge amount of will and intent and it's very difficult for many men to say no when they are whipped up into a bit of a storm. And it's the old adage about if you yank a dog's tale don't be surprised when it bites you. Or you can't keep snakes in the garden and think they'll only bite your neighbours. One wonders if women need to be a little bit more mindful of that..."
Clive Lewis, Labour’s Candidate for Norwich South said:
"Listening to Nick Conrad's comments it's all too clear he's got this badly wrong. To suggest men are little better than animals with no self-control is quite frankly offensive. Unlike Mr Conrad I think most men understand the concept of 'no means no'. It's not a difficult concept to master.
“I think men and women across Norfolk expect a higher standard of journalism and editorial sensitivity from the BBC and while we are pleased Nick Conrad has apologised internally at the BBC, we believe he should apologise on air to try to undo some of the potential damage he could have done.”
Jess Asato, Labour’s Candidate for Norwich North said:
“Nick Conrad’s views are not only crass and demeaning towards women, they are downright dangerous because they help to perpetuate rape culture. The idea that women “whip men up” and lead them on is as old as the hills and feeds into the mentality that some women are “asking for it” or somehow deserve to be raped. Nick Conrad ought to know better than reinforce these stereotypes and should issue an on-air apology for his insensitive comments. Given that he made these comments on air, he should apologise on air.
“It doesn’t matter what a woman (or a man) has done prior to the act, if they withdraw consent, or can’t give consent, any subsequent sexual act is illegal. Let’s stop blaming women and start asking men to take responsibility for their actions. Remember that approximately 85,000 women are raped on average in England and Wales every year while 1 in 5 women has experienced some form of sexual violence since the age of 16.”
In an apparent swipe at 'feminists' Mr Conrad went on to say: "...feminists who have hijacked... Hijacked maybe a bit of a strong word ... jump on these arguments and appear to be quite anti-men. (They) Neglect that very important part of the argument even though it's a reduced part of the argument and the onus has to be on the men and the men must be condemned if a woman says no and they persist then that's absolutely abhorrent. But they then (feminists) in their fury against men and masculinity they actually forget to stop and say if you tease, if you jump into bed naked with a man if you give him all the signals and then he acts upon them then you are partially responsible.."
At one point Mr Conrad appeared to realise the controversial nature of his comments: "… how do I say this? I've got to be so careful of what I say because I don't want this to be explosive, I'm trying, I'm just trying to talk around it…"
He added: "(But) what I'm trying to say is that women also have to understand that when a man's given certain signals he'll wish to act upon them and if you don't wish to give out the wrong signals it's best probably to keep your knickers on and not get into bed with him. Does that make sense?"
For further comment please contact Clive Lewis on 07545 610 946 or Jess Asato on 07939 594 634.
Notes to Editors
Full written transcript below
Link to audio file at 26.56 in: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02bghwx
Link to EDP report with comments from women’s organisations here: http://www.edp24.co.uk/news/politics/bbc_presenter_apologises_over_comments_in_live_radio_debate_about_the_future_of_convicted_rapist_ched_evans_1_3853358