Joanna Lumley is best known to me as Patsy Stone, the chain-smoking lush on Absolutely Fabulous. Lumley is more than that, of course – while AbFab made her famous, she’s been a stage actress, a model, a traveler and an activist for much of her life. Lumley became quite tight with the Windsors at some point, and she’s a fan of the late QEII and she’s friends with Queen Camilla. She’s currently promoting a book about QEII’s “private passions and public interests,” which is how she came to be interviewed by Prospect Magazine. The big headline from the piece is that she thinks the Me Too movement went too far and women are too eager to see themselves as victims. I have to say, though – I read the whole piece and it’s a somewhat interesting read besides that crap. Some highlights:
She doesn’t think much of drama schools: She was, and remains, entirely convinced that acting ability is innate: “You can either act or you can’t.” Drama school was not even considered. “They can only teach you how to refine your acting or learn some tricks.” She recalls that Anthony Hopkins, when once asked what research he did to become Hannibal Lecter, answered that he combed back his hair. “A lot of guff is spoken about how deeply we go into stuff, but largely we change our accent, or raise an eyebrow; we do something with our hair or wear a wig or do something different,” she says. “The joy of acting is in being able to flick into a new character.”
A Bond Girl in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. “I made a big thing of it because it suited me to say I was a Bond Girl. But really I was just a speck of dust, and if you blinked you would miss me!”
She thinks it’s hell to have enthusiastic fans: “Rather than be sad about it, try to pretend you love it.” She would tell herself, “I am not going to be cross.” She still does. “Now with selfies I pretend to absolutely love it. Because otherwise you would go mad. But hell—you do go mad. They are so intrusive,” she says. Lumley doesn’t do any social media, perhaps as part of an attempt to escape the constant intrusion of modern public life. She casually adds that “I don’t even take calls on my mobile.”
She came up with the ultimately failed plan for a riverwalk Thames Garden Bridge. “Our country hates new ideas. It really hates them.” As Lumley tells me the history of her endeavours, it is obvious how passionate she was about the bridge and how angry she is about the politicians who eventually killed the project; she fails to mention the extent of public opposition to the bridge. “Suddenly it was seen as a fatuous and ridiculous idea. But imagine if it had been there during lockdown. The quietness and peace of a lovely river walk and the solace of the trees and plants given to people as they walk across the great river. It would have been magic. And we had support from all over the world.”
On feminism & Me Too: Self-sufficiency is clearly part of Lumley’s credo but, I wonder, does she consider herself a role model and feminist? She skirts the answer but does make it plain that she has little sympathy for the #MeToo movement. In the years when she was modelling, women “were a lot tougher,” she says. “If someone whistled at you in the street, it didn’t matter. If someone was groping, we slapped their hands. We were quite tough and looked after ourselves… The new fashion is to be a victim, a victim of something. It’s pathetic. We have gone mad.”
I do think there’s this thing with older women, women of Lumley’s generation, who feel like they were harassed and abused and it’s just part of being a woman, and so every generation of women should have to deal with it too. That’s not the way it should be though – just because women now feel empowered enough to tell their stories of being harassed, abused, raped and assaulted, it doesn’t NEGATE what women of other generations went through and survived. But yeah, I get the feeling that a lot of older people think “victimhood” is the current fad. It’s not. This is correct about Britain though: “Our country hates new ideas. It really hates them.” Yep.
The fact that Lumley feels that way about Me Too – and women telling their stories of surviving sexual violence and harassment – while also being friendly with Queen Camilla is pretty interesting. Camilla’s big issue is domestic violence, rape crisis centers, etc. Maybe Lumley will go with Camilla to one of those rape crisis centers and tell the survivors that they’re pathetic whiners.
Photos courtesy of Chris Jackson/Avalon, Justin Ng / Avalon.
She complains about the Sussexes so this is no surprise. It sucks because I love Patsy Stone so much but I’m comforted because Jennifer Saunders is a total opposite, refused her royal honor and praised Meghan, lol.
Amazing that revelations of these two things – her view on the Sussexes and #MeToo – can so totally turn you off someone you’ve always adored. I am so disappointed in her. And it’s clear that her white privilege is showing up big time.
I suspect that Camilla feels the same way Lumley feels but she has to pretend to be a domestic violence advocate.
The way Camilla has not lifted a finger to do anything to protect SistahSpace is how I know she’s a faker and her “work” to “uplift victims” is meaningless. She’s a horrible person inside and out and that’s it.
It takes more courage to come forward with your experience and demand accountability than to just “slap someone’s hands away”. She and others like her are willfully ignoring that.
I feel the same way. Camilla was born to do nothing. She pretends to be an advocate for something something about women, but actually it’s probably just a time filler. She did not lift a finger or offer smiles and words for Fulani which was racially abused at her own party. how caring is that?
Joan Collins is another actress from that era who seems to think that young actresses should suck it up or knee their attacker in the groin as she did in Hollywood in the 1950s. They don’t dismiss the real fear that these women grow through when powerful men, who hold their careers in their hands, make advances. It reminds me of that scene in FAME when Coco goes to meet the sleazy producer.
That playbook wouldn’t work now either.
Look at what happened when Amber fought back. She became the assailant rather than victim.
It’s a sad state of affairs when abusers have grown with the times, and these women, who were targeted themselves, are still ignorant.
I do always wonder whether “old Hollywood” is simply ashamed of the fact that they did trade favors for their careers. It seems like such an odd thing to be surly about women suggesting that they have a right to bodily integrity and don’t want to be sexually harassed in the workplace.
I feel like this is a good take. If you can kick up a fuss and actually make men answer for their abuse and harassment of women, then maybe what they went through was for nothing. They like to see themselves as smart women who played to game.
I think it’s also a selfish look at their own industry survival. Maybe Joanna was fine to walk away from harassment and slap away assault, but for every woman that “made it” in that environment, there are thousands more who didn’t.
Women who were pushed out because they wouldn’t do the Things Required of Them to get the job. Women who did the Things and then lived a miserable life of self-loathing and shame. Or simply women who were outright abused, r*ped, used and eventually broken and discarded.
Just because you had the right combination of things to survive, it doesn’t mean everyone else did or that future generation should have to as well.
It’s exactly like with Blythe Danner talking about Gwyneth Paltrow and Harvey Weinstein. Danner insisted that Weinstein did nothing wrong to Paltrow because “we raised her the right way and to not accept it”. Disgusting.
@molly of course, it’s incredibly selfish. But probably also self-preservation.
@tealily Definitely. I don’t fault her for how she chooses to preserve herself, but I sure wish she’d STFU about how anyone else should feel.
Marylin spoke about “old Hollywood” and she was left alone, and labelled as “instable” . And she struggled all her life.
These women survived, ans I respect that, but how many died because of the abuse?
@Molly: You’re right. Even though it’s framed as altruistic and as making young women into better people, the motives behind it are often selfish.
New ideas like “groping isn’t ok”?
Ironic words for a woman who is philosophically stuck in yesteryear.
As a woman of her generation, I also integrated the objectification and punishment pre #metoo. Was absolutely gobsmacked how the movement created a language I didn’t yet have, ie, “predator”, “groomer”, “genderISM” or “workplace harassment”. I was confused how sexual advances were more -dominance- and dehumanising than complimentary.
Seriously, how can ANY female NOT get up and rejoice for the improved future of humanity, BECAUSE WOMEN ARE HUMANS. I didn’t think it could happen. You may as well have told me it would rain compostable glitter on every day of the week.
I don’t know if she has grandkids or daughters, but does she tell them that they need to simply endure being groped by men, that their only recourse is to knock the person’s hand away? If she would not give that advice to a room full of young girls, she needs to rethink what she’s saying. There is definitely a weird jealousy when older women are angry that the younger generation demands more dignity and respect that they were able to in their time. Really stinks that older women can’t be supportive and cheering us on when we’re trying to finish the race that they started.
Fortunately she just has a son who, I believe, was born *out of wedlock* when she was 21. She does have 2 granddaughters.
She really has fallen off these last few years in my estimation.
Jennifer Saunders must be so ashamed of her.
She is essentially now just a right wing troll.
Yeah, we were tough and slapped their hands and looked out for ourselves, but we also knew that there was nothing more we could do about it. We would have spoken up then, if there wasn’t the real fear of being fired or retaliated against in some way. I’m happy that society has changed enough so that victims can have a voice.
I’ll agree that SHE may have “gone mad”, but as dear Mr. Lincoln said, “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt.”
So someone is abused, says so, and then is belittled and essentially abused again when people say they just want to play the victim card. Do I have that right?
She also seems to be conflating getting whistled at on the street (and walking away), or a pat on the behind (which is inappropriate in the workplace) with repeated sexual advances by co-workers or higher ups at work or the sexual advances and abuse that people like Harvey Weinstein or Matt Lauer would engage in with co-workers, or job applicants. How do you brazen that out? Go along with it, if you need the work? That’s a high price to pay for income, and then you can’t report it or sue them because they will say it was consensual. I’m all for having scope and for women being independent but surely this woman can see that this is an additional hurdle that some people have to overcome for the privilege of working, while others do not. Let’s not forget that when someone gets away with pinching a co-worker, they may take other liberties. Predators rarely start out with pouncing on you; they often graduate to such acts.
Another day, another old white woman who speaks out of her arse.
Imagine thinking women speaking up for themselves is an ‘act’ and ‘playing victim.’ What drivel. And one of the RF’s recent victims had to meet with and accept the apology of her abuser. It’s so frustrating that those who are victimized have to be gracious and forgiving. Maybe I don’t want to forgive! And just want to be heard. I’m glad Ngozi Fulani gets her apology but the abuse heaped on her on top of the racism she initially called out shows why people are told to shut up and put up with abuse. Women like Lumley complain about women speaking up instead of uplifting them. It’s sad to see.
This. It’s sadly common. If Archetypes comes back, there should be an episode that discusses the different ways the victim trope is used to shame and silence women. On the one hand, women are automatically dismissed as playing the victim, which has definitely been done to Meghan Markle and many others. But on the other hand, people have no problem making up fun, convenient, profitable stories about women they don’t like being victimized so they can use it against them and “win” the culture war. Transphobes and homophobes are good at that too.
Here’s the thing with Lumley comments, people who are victimized and abused are victims and they deserve justice and to be heard if they choose to speak. They may be survivors and champions and advocates as well but to try to say no harm was done is just wrong. Lumley can say they were tougher back in the day but that’s not necessarily true. They’re just more silent or were more ignored, because women spoke up then as well and pushed for change back then too.
To be fair, she didn’t mention domestic violence or rape or anything like that in those who ‘complain’. That’s a big jump, and unfair in my opinion.
But she is conflating talking about the harassment issue with whining about the issue. It’s bringing attention to harassment and that makes it less acceptable, which I’m sure she would have appreciated even if she did slap away men’s hands.
How is it an unfair jump? That’s PART of what MeToo is all about. And guess what, there are plenty of people who are “against” domestic violence and rape, but continue to make comments like hers because they are constantly moving the goalposts of the criteria of what it specifically is (“Oh, I’m against domestic violence, but you know, you really shouldn’t have spoken back to your husband like that”). Spare me.
Yeah, sure. Let’s all just relax and let men do whatever they want. That’ll have us back a few decades in not time, it’ll be grand.
Women who talk like that always sound so bitter. That is not toughness, that’s resignation and bitterness. Like they’re pissed they weren’t born later when there was some semblance of power in women’s lives. I’m in my late 30s and when I look at the next generation of boys, I’m so happy for their female contemporaries. The percentage of young men with a vastly different attitude towards these issues – towards women and everyone else in general – is so much higher than among people my age. I’m always shocked how many of us around 40 have just copied our parents in the end. I like the color pink. My bff had a baby this year and told me her husband wouldn’t have dressed a son in pink. Since it’s a girl, I can gift her pink stuff. Is he for real, I don’t even know.
I can’t say about bitter, but women in their 30’s really have no idea how things were 50 years ago. If you imagine that Cosby, Weinstein, Lauer, etc. – their abuses and crimes go back 20+ years and nobody did anything, then go back another 30 years. That time seems as alien to us today as if we were reading Victorian novels of 170 years ago.
I think Lumley is being flippant and ignoring the continuous struggle from her time to now – how things have improved, how issues have changed and how some things haven’t changed at all. But it might be useful for women of any age to consider the entire history of the fight for women’s rights.
I am close in age and I think it is much more nuanced than that. For as along as I can remember, people have a love-hate relationship with the current young generation of the moment, lauding them for more progressive ideals than previous generations (while also complaining they are too “soft”). But then the same thing happens again and again: somewhere between 30-40, many end of taking up the same values and opinions of older generations. And yes, plenty of the younger men of this current young generation will end up this way too. In fact, too many of them have been radicalized by online extremism that I fear they will be even worse.
At the same time, comparing today’s 30/40s men to their fathers and grandfathers, there are absolutely differences. It the paradox of many people becoming more conservative, cynical, and hardened as they age, regardless of what generation they are in; yet incrementally, attitudes and values do shift from generation to generation.
Lol, so true. There are many quotes from ancient Greece about how the younger generation are lazy, entitled and weak.
I feel fortunate to live in a university town and am able to spend time talking to younger people. Sometimes, I think “hmmmm,” but mostly we have good conversations and they help me bridge the gap
My maternal grandfather and his friends treated women far better than my father and his friends did. (I realized last year that I married a man whose sense of humor is very like my grandfather’s, and who thankfully is absolutely nothing like my father.) I never met my paternal grandfather because my grandmother kicked him out of the house because he beat her — a lot. What does this say about my father’s generation of Baby Boomers vs. my grandfathers’ so-called “Greatest” generation? Idk. Though all my male Gen X friends and boyfriends have been better than either when it comes to women, but I also knew plenty who were rotten.
Society has to be dragged toward the good and away from the bad, and part of that is law. We can’t become complacent.
So she’s decrepit and terrible. Got it.
Wanna know why you don’t hear about the women of yesteryear who slapped studio heads for “getting fresh?”
Because their careers ended.
Seems these a lot of resentment and wasted text from these elderly women trying to justify their time on the casting couch and wanting to make sure younger women suffer.
Disgraceful! Of course this cow is friends with Camilla.
Her career didn’t end, she’s been active on stage and screen all along, involved in a number of charities as well as doing an amazing travel series all over the world, as well as one on the history of cats. It’s not appropriate to call her decrepit, it’s ageism at its worst. That being said I am truly disgusted by her Me Too comment.
I think Hayley is implying that Lumley DIDNT actually “smack their hands off her bum”, but most likely did spent the requisite time on the casting couch, and kept her mouth shut about it, and that is why she had a career. Which would explain her bitterness towards the younger generation of women, many of whom have been ABLE to smack a man’s hand off their bums and still have a career. Like a number of commentors have stated, there is a faction of the elderly who are angry that young people want change, even though young people already hsve it better than them. Which is absurd. That’s like telling POC that they shouldn’t have formed BLM because after all, their grandparents couldn’t even use the same water fountain as white people, while they can. If there is widespread injustice anywhere, it must be fought. Periodt
Eh, I don’t know about that. A lot of the women who say things like what she said think they’re better than those women. There’s this mentality of I fought back but moved on, why didn’t you? Why are you whining?
As far as calling her decrepit goes…at least that’s a gender neutral insult. Even with the way fuckups are handled, there seems to be a bit of a double standard for women. Any time millennial and gen Z women do something problematic, it’s open season to call them whatever we want (provided that we stick to sexuality and gender), drag up the ****efax, and be dismissive of their trauma. But when older women do something problematic- especially to younger women- extra care is given to not being ageist, to the need for younger people to not yell or be disrespectful, and the need to remember that not everybody grew up during the same time period.
As a Brit since the Brexit movement and culture war the scales have really fallen away from my eyes.
I always understood that the UK was racist, classist and deeply misogynistic but to see all these ‘celebs’ from my childhood co-opting right wing rhetoric has been deeply triggering.
I feel like a stranger in my own country.
Maybe the over 70-something women have more layers than to simply suck it up. I don’t know. Are they jealous at the thought that after everything they had to endure for seven or eight decades, women today are trying to erase that part of hardship? Like if sexual harassment and abuse were to suddenly disappear, have they lost their validation? I’m simply trying to understand the mindset which continues to simply say, “Suck it up.” That seems so lazy. I’d say something like that to my boys if they’d been talking my ear off, and I just want ’em out of my car lol. But to tell women to not go to the police or HR and to simply pull up their big girl panties is such a slap in the face and they know it, because they were told they same thing. By women not accepting it today is perhaps a slap in the face to those who did actually suck it up and carry on.
I suspect there are many many reasons and I would love it if someone could tackle that in a scientifically sound study. I said above that they sound bitter, not tough. And I think partly they are. Maybe there’s also a sense of shame, seeing how the next generation put a stop to a lot of things when they hadn’t. I know I feel like shit looking at kids in their late teens being organized and protesting climate change when I know WE should have done that. Then I remember we didn’t have the same access to information. We were told the worst thing was nuclear energy. Well surprise, it’s not. The circumstances were different and hindsight is 20/20 but it still sucks. Or maybe those women have simply internalized the tons of misogyny they experienced over the decades? It was sink or swim, they decided to swim.
I personally think that the biggest issue is the Cool Girl factor. They made themselves into one of the guys but of course glamorous and presenting very stereotypically female. To survive, maybe? But the times have changed and women are sick of it. They realize there was maybe another way and their lives could have been different.
It’s hard for me to see their point when I’m middle-aged, and I’ve been kicking and screaming since my late teens. I can’t fathom denying young women their voices. I know for a fact how hard it is for women pre internet and post, and these older women think they’re speaking to the loudest, most visible, but all women hear. It’s a terrible look for those in declining years.
“ I personally think that the biggest issue is the Cool Girl factor.”
Yep. As well, they apparently feel that their “toughing it out” makes them smarter/stronger women/stars than those who couldn’t “hack” it. If that perverse pride is key to your emotional armor, you are not going to want to give that up. Too many guilts and awful ghosts might rush in…
i find the public personas of Joanna Lumley and the late Joan Rivers odious. Interesting that both made it very public that they are and were close friends of Charles.
to quote Eddie, Aunty Pats needs changing
I think the problem is that a lot of women become female misogynists as they get older, which is incredibly sad. When your looks fade and you feel sexually invisible I get that there is jealousy towards younger and more attractive women. I think these older women see sexual assault with sexual desire and that is not the case at all. If a man sexually assaults a woman, it’s not because he desires her, it’s because he wants to humiliate, dehumanise and violate her.
I also wonder is female misogynists secretly love seeing younger or more attractive women punished for possessing qualities they feel they don’t have?
“I also wonder is female misogynists secretly love seeing younger or more attractive women punished for possessing qualities they feel they don’t have?” That definitely does happen, even though there’s a push to pretend that it doesn’t. Both sexes try to call themselves ugly & unpopular to get away with misogynistic abuse- it’s meant to make their verbal violence look woke. Female misogynists get a special kick out of doing it to younger women who have defied them in some way. When they get hurt, they can’t wait to victim-blame and make an example out of them or go on about having no sympathy for them. Online and offline women have been doing that to Megan thee Stallion. People will let a desire to see sl*t punishment handed out override their humanity and common sense.
I think this is it. To them, any attention is good attention, so it doesn’t register as harassment. They were raised to believe that if a boy or a man bothers you, he must like you. Not every one of her generation subscribes to that belief, but it was and remains a prevalent one. They believe that men are foolish in the ways of love and romance, and sometimes they just get a little ~silly~, but deep down, they’re good people. They’re well-intentioned.
You would think that time and experience would open their eyes, but it usually just entrenches their beliefs. With age does not always come wisdom. When the “attention” dries up, they miss it, and they can’t understand why young women don’t like being treated the way that they were and no longer are.
It’s so fascinating to me the way British people fall all over themselves for these honours. What an interesting psycho-social study that would be. I guess in a society built on hierarchy, if you’ve got an honour, you’re a notch higher than before and higher than loads of other people.
That entire island needs therapy.
It doesn’t surprise me that Joanna Lumley is friends with Camilla. I’m sure Camilla had the same thoughts about Ngozi Fulani sucking it up instead of being a victim. It’s how horrible people justify themselves.
Feeling victimized after having looked at her face and read her words. Yikes.
Well said that just because a woman talks about the abuse she’s endured does not make her a victim.
This type of perspective on female misogyny really needs to go the way of the Dodo Bird. Can’t stand women like this.
Gosh I wonder how the Royal groveller would feel if a daughter of hers fell victim to what she is trying to brush under the rug. She spends so much time grovelling at the alter of Charlie boy that she has become nothing but a royal sychophant, and just an added thought I found it hilarious that the day after Megan and Harry’s documentary was released, lady Susan has apologised for her ravish comments 😂😂😂talk about the Palace sponging the PR team into action
Gosh I wonder how the Royal groveller would feel if a daughter of hers fell victim to what she is trying to brush under the rug. She spends so much time grovelling at the alter of Charlie boy that she has become nothing but a royal sychophant
I think in the age of social media there are some people that thrive on the attention of being victims and is their main identity but what she is talking about seems like harassment that society isn’t accepting anymore. Just because I had to deal with harassment doesn’t mean I want my daughters to as well! Let’s always do better for the next generation.
A disgrace as a human being saying inflammatory things just to get clicks. Me Too is all too real.
She was pretty close friends with Philip too at one point, as I recall.
Is she still complaining about that stupid garden bridge?? Nobody, and I mean NOBODY wanted it except the people who stood to make a lot of money from it. £7 million was wasted on it and it never even got built. But like a lot of very rich, very posh elderly women she doesn’t really live in the real world, just her own cosy little bubble.
Absolutely had it with these women, often from a certain generation, who try to bully younger women into tolerating sexual harassment and pandering to harassers. Jilly Cooper, Bridget Bardot, a whole bunch of others. In what effing universe is MeToo not standing up for ourselves and others? Women are still being bullied and harassed out of whole industries and sectors, and these victim-blaming hags think slapping a couple of hands will fix it. Lumley et al, shut the eff up and get out of the way.
No. Apparently the new fashion is to victim shame instead of blaming the gropers for bad behavior. It’s the same logic that all the royal women were abused by the press so Meghan must put up with it also. Older generations should be happy for things to become easier for their children and granchildren. Instead we get some that seem to resent the world becoming a better place.
1. So she is going to make money off the late Queen.
2. Is she disparaging Me Too to cover for Pedo? She is very royal adjacent, but the news is out that most of the royals are disgusting, horrible people so she can’t really flaunt her status and be universally envied. She sounds bitter.
She has become Patsy Stone.
She probably blames rape survivors, too.
I hate the attitude that being a victim is some kind of moral failing. How am *I* pathetic when I seek accountability from you, the one who caused me suffering and harm? So many times I’ve heard someone sneer “go on, then, play the victim,” and it’s like all the abuse concerns get dismissed by everyone — including the victim. It is the ultimate gas lightning.
💯 agree with you. It’s insidious.
Such a weird flex in society to use the word victim in the way Lumley uses it here too, like it’s something you can choose to become instead of something someone else does to you.
I’m not sure exactly what she is holding there – badges? But they are quite pretty. Probably not worth the price of your soul.
Nice Fanny pack Lumley…. No need to mcgyver it for your next audition…. You’re welcome. Xoxo #MeToo
It’s the same attitude of “we went through it so you do too” no wonder she friends with the Royals. No Jo, we’re supposed to be making things better for people.
As for Camilla, she’s about DV and Rape Crisis as much as the new Waleses are about mental health. Charles really is weak because he actually does the work in his environmental issues and he just doesn’t see how his family simply window dresses their causes.
He sees it and he likes it that way. Charles hates when the spotlight is on anyone else. That’s why he treated Harry, and later Meghan, like he did.
I was harassed back in the 1980s on the job when it was common and not acknowledged. I WAS a victim. I was expected to laugh off jokes about my breasts, my figure and just being a woman. I did NOT LIKE IT and we should go the whatever lengths we need to get the respect we deserve from men and boys.
MeToo goes beyond whistling and groping though. Weinstein is in prison for sexual assault. He blackballed women for rejecting his advances.
Yeah so men are usually physically much stronger than women. A slap/pushing away isn’t gonna cut it a whole lot of the time, and will often make a man intent on sexual abuse more violent.
I don’t think she’s correct, but old people are really blunt.
I wondered if she knew what the Me Too movement is actually about. It’s possible she might not be up to date on the full context of what that movement is. Some of the same proponents for Me Too signed the petition in defense of Roman Polanski or have starred in Woody Allen films, so I sometimes wonder how informed anyone in Hollywood is about these kinds of issues, until they fully gain traction.
My instincts about people are always right. I could never take to her, and I didn’t really have a solid reason. Now I do.