Maureen Lipman says the #MeToo movement has gone too far
Maureen Lipman says the #MeToo movement has gone too far TIMES NEWSPAPERS

Women celebrities who dress like prostitutes but complain about male attention are to blame for “confusing” men, Maureen Lipman has claimed.

The actress said that the #MeToo movement was “going too far” in vilifying men for incidents that took place decades ago when standards of behaviour were different.

“We mustn’t wipe out men,” she told Radio Times. “I know men have brutalised women over centuries, but I don’t think the message we’re giving out with #MeToo is right.”

Lipman, 72, is not the first well-known woman to express misgivings about the backlash against inappropriate male behaviour. She said that women celebrities who appeared in public in “all this bondage clothing — dressed a bit like a prostitute would have dressed” were sending mixed messages. “Young female pop stars, for example, are saying: ‘It’s my body, and I’m empowered to show it to you’. But then: ‘Don’t touch it, don’t come near it, don’t flirt with it.’ That is a bit of a shame because flirting is some of the best fun you’ve ever had in your life. We’re batting our eyelids and clenching our teeth at the same time. That is confusing.”

Lipman also indicated some sympathy for Roman Polanski, the film director who fled the US after pleading guilty to the rape of a 13-year-old girl in 1977. Polanski, 85, has never served time in jail, but Lipman, who starred in his 2002 film The Pianist, said that his decades-long exile in Europe was “probably enough” punishment. She also suggested that the circumstances of Polanski’s crime during a “photoshoot” at the Los Angeles home of the actor Jack Nicholson, were not considered so problematic in the era in which they occurred.

She made it clear that she supported the progress made in encouraging sexual abuse victims to come forward but said that #MeToo was leading to “kneejerk” and “all-inclusive” condemnation of men for relatively minor historical offences.

Lipman is perhaps best known for playing the Jewish grandmother Beatrice Bellman in a series of British Telecom adverts. She has just signed to play Evelyn Plummer, an “outspoken battleaxe”, in Coronation Street.

She ended her long-standing support for the Labour Party in 2014 and has repeatedly criticised Jeremy Corbyn’s record on antisemitism.

In her Radio Times interview, the actress implied that the low profile adopted by Mr Corbyn’s Mexican wife, Laura Álvarez, reflected a broader marginalisation of women by political leaders. “Where’s Mrs Corbyn? She’s a Mexican in a peaked cap following two paces behind . . . Is he hiding her?” she said. “Where is Mrs Putin? Where has she gone? Can you trust a man like that? Trump grabs pussy as a way of saying, ‘How do you do, madam?’ We know that; he’s a misogynist and a vulgarian. And he’s on the third Mrs Trump, who hates him.”

In January, 100 prominent French women signed an open letter claiming that seduction was being criminalised by the #MeToo campaign. Mary Beard, the classicist, has spoken of the tendency to “cherry pick” isolated incidents of misbehaviour out of context, urging the movement to focus on the protection of women working now rather than past misconduct.

(c) The Time 2018