Dame Joan Bakewell says Mary Whitehouse was right

Image caption,
Dame Joan says money has corrupted young woman

Broadcaster Dame Joan Bakewell has said her former opponent Mary Whitehouse was right to fear the sexual liberation of the 1960s.

Dame Joan was a liberal opponent of the late Mrs Whitehouse, who led a vociferous crusade against sex and violence in broadcasting.

But she says girls have not used sexual freedoms as wisely as it was hoped.

"I never thought I would hear myself say as much, but I'm with Mrs Whitehouse on this one," she said.

Writing in the Radio Times, Dame Joan concedes that women's liberation had unintended consequences.

"The liberal mood back in the 60s was that sex was pleasurable and wholesome and shouldn't be seen as dirty and wicked. The Pill allowed women to make choices for themselves," she said.

"Of course, that meant the risk of making the wrong choice. But we all hoped girls would grow to handle the new freedoms wisely.

'Permissiveness and filth'

"Then everything came to be about money: so now sex is about money, too.

"Why else sexualise the clothes of little girls, run TV channels of naked wives, have sex magazines edging out the serious stuff on newsagents' shelves?

"It's money that's corrupted us and women are being used and are even collaborating."

The interview came ahead of a BBC Radio 4 programme called the Mary Whitehouse Effect, in which Dame Joan reflects on the impact of the woman who challenged the "tide of permissiveness and filth" she saw as sweeping the nation.

The public morals champion began her career with the Clean Up TV Campaign in 1964, warning of the de-sensitising effect of showing violence and gratuitous sex, saying it would create a more violent and sexualised society.

Conversely, as presenter of the BBC Two discussion programme Late Night Line-Up, Dame Joan tackled social and current affairs issues previously considered taboo.

Her husband at the time, Michael Bakewell, was BBC head of plays and both were targets of Mrs Whitehouse.

The Mary Whitehouse Effect is broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on 5 June at 2000 BST.

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