Fern Britton has, as part of the #MeToo movement, revealed that she was subjected to an indecent proposal during a lunch date with the rest of her team.
Fern Britton – who became a household name on This Morning and Ready Steady Cook – has opened up about the #MeToo movement, the Time’s Up initiative and the showbiz industry’s generally poor treatment of women.
And, sharing her own story, Britton has recalled how she was forced to refuse the repeated sexual advances of a male television star.
“I was taken out to lunch with the rest of the team and the star of the show — a guy — was sitting there,” she told The Sun.
“We had done the lunch and we had met the team, it was all very nice and I was 23 or 24… [but then] this guy looked at me and said, ‘I wonder how long it will be before I am having an affair with you. Because I do have a very big c**k’.”
Britton continued: “It was not the first time a man had made some comment. Every one of us has been in a situation somewhere where it has become uncomfortable and inappropriate.”
Anticipating the slew of unhelpful questions (after the #MeToo movement, many victims of sexual abuse were asked why they didn’t come forward sooner), Britton added: “You think: ‘It was my fault as I turned up for the meeting or agreed to have lunch’.
“[Thankfully, that attitude] is slowly disappearing. We have been quietly groomed for centuries without knowing it.”
Britton finished by revealing that she rushed home and told her mother about the incident, before turning down the job in question.
In 2008, Britton revealed that she had been raped in her own home by a man who has asked her out on a date.
“Even if you get a bit drunk or if you go back to the person’s flat, once you say no then it’s no,” she said to the Mail Online at the time.
“In my case I was stone cold sober. The man came to my flat and didn’t want to leave, even when I told him to. He was someone I had recently met and who had come to pick me up and take me to dinner.
“Afterwards I shut down. I didn’t want anyone to know about it. I just wanted to pretend it never happened.”
The attack lasted all night, Britton said, and in the morning the man dressed and left. She did not speak publicly about the incident until she included it in her memoirs in 2008.
She did not report the incident to the police as she felt she had been at fault, explaining: “I didn’t have bruises and he didn’t hit me.
“I felt that I should have done something. I think the majority of women who find themselves in a situation where something happens that they didn’t want, even if it was not full-blown rape, they won’t report it.”
Britton went on to say that she has since come to terms with what happened to her and, addressing anyone who might suggest that victims may in some way be at fault for the behaviour of their attackers, said it is incredibly hard for anyone to understand unless they are “somebody who has been invaded in a way that [they] didn’t wish to be invaded”.
“The fact is that rape is rape,” she said. “If you don’t want it, but someone does it against your wishes, then it is a violation.”
Sexual violence is a crime, no matter who commits it or where it happens. Don’t be afraid to get help.
Image: Rex Features