Reply to my letter to the BBC re Karen White and Jimmy Savile(77 Posts)
I hope that some wise women have time to help me digest this reply to my letter to the BBC. I am pleased they have taken it seriously but they clearly don't understand that calling a rapist 'she' and referring to them using preferred pronouns is traumatic for any victim of sexual assault, I think it is gaslighting victims.
I have redacted bits that would 'out' me or reveal personal things that I feel are too difficult for me.
I will put it on a separate post so below. Thank you
Thank you for your recent letter to Tony Hall.
Part of my role is to monitor the implementation of the Dame Janet Smith reforms, and it is in that capacity that I am replying on behalf of the Director-General. I wanted to make sure that you received a full response, and I am sorry for the time that’s taken.
At the outset, we are very grateful to you for taking the time to share your account with the Dame Janet Smith Review. I do not underestimate how hard it must have been to describe again what was clearly an extremely distressing experience. We appreciate your courage in coming forward to speak with the Review.
In response to your comment on what has been done to prevent anything like that happening again, the BBC previously published the work we have undertaken to address Dame Janet Smith’s findings and to reaffirm our commitment to learning from the past and to continually build on our progress.
I am very concerned to hear you say that you feel the BBC is misogynistic and, as I understand, you feel this applies to both our output and general culture. We take such concerns seriously. I would like to assure you that the BBC shares your opposition to prejudice and discrimination. The BBC seeks to lead the way in creating a fully inclusive culture which values women’s contributions and supports women to succeed. As part of that work the BBC recently published a report on career progression and culture for gender equality at the BBC which you can find here www.bbc.co.uk/mediacentre/latestnews/2018/gender-pay-equality.
There is also a pan-BBC women’s network for the development and progression of women at the BBC and to support the BBC’s aim of achieving a gender balanced workforce at all levels by 2020.
Further, we are committed to ensuring that everyone who works for, or is engaged with, the BBC has a safe place in which to work. We are determined that the BBC has a workplace culture where sexual harassment and bullying is not only intolerable, but also eliminated – and we actively encourage our employees to call out where they see instances where this is happening.
In respect of your concerns about our editorial content, if you are able to provide further information about the programmes or news articles which you think illustrates your
complaint about misogyny in our output, we would be keen to look into this and provide you with a considered response. For editorial complaints such as this, please use the form on our website to raise a formal complaint and we will ensure that these are appropriately investigated in line with our agreed process. Full details of this are on our website at the following address: www.bbc.co.uk/complaints/.
With regard to the reference in your letter to women’s rights campaigner Karen Ingala Smith being referred to as a ‘TERF’ on iPlayer, I understand from the Politics Live team that the programme was not endorsing the term, but actually reporting on its widespread use. I believe that the production team has already contacted her directly and explained they did not intend to use the term as a label.
As you also referenced Woman’s Hour, we asked the Editor to respond to the comments you made about the programme, and she has asked me to share with you the following points.
On Woman’s Hour, when talking about Karen White, we have referred to her as ‘she’, as we use the pronoun that the person chooses. We have never interviewed Karen White on Woman’s Hour, but we did mention the issue during our coverage of the Gender Recognition Act consultation on 16 October.
As a general point, we always ask guests how they would like to be described on air. This can relate to various sorts of title – for example, Mrs or Ms, or Dame/Sir, or Doctor – and is often used to clarify their preferred description of a job title. The same is true regarding guests’ gender identity, be it trans or non-binary – we ask them how they would like to be described. Using a specific pronoun is just an introduction and doesn’t influence the quality of the analysis or debate around an issue (such as rape victims’ right to honest testimony).
On Woman’s Hour the testimony of women talking about their experiences is always at the heart of our editorial content and is given the highest priority. We regularly hear from women who are survivors of rape, domestic violence and other crimes against women.
On the specific point about how the Fair Play organisation has been described by the BBC, I thought it might be helpful for you to know that we included Fair Play in our Gender Recognition Act consultation discussion on 16 October, where Dr Nicola Williams took part and was introduced as, “spokeswoman for the campaign group Fair Play to Women”.
I would like to be very clear that Woman’s Hour has not been silenced on this issue. The programme has a long history of covering issues relating to transgender. In addition to the programme mentioned above, we recently discussed the rise in referrals of children to gender dysphoria clinics.
We are also currently featuring a series called Sex and Gender. This series is examining and debating in detail some of the current issues – for example, why the debate has become so toxic, how the Equality Act protects women and where the gaps might be, the impact on safe spaces for women, women in sport, and several other issues.
Page 2 of 3
Thank you for taking the time to write, and I hope that this response has been of some help to you. I can assure you that we treat your concerns with the utmost seriousness.
Sarah Gregory HR Director
Karen White wasn't on air, so how do they know what pronouns they are using at present, clearest for informing the public is to provide all names and genders that the person has convictions under.
Staff aren't happy about the facilities.
What are they doing about staff that are smug whilst in a sketch about sexism then use coercive control (BBC want a national discussion on coercive control) over another sex class and refuse to allow a protected characteristic class use the Language of choice to describe themselves?
Still waiting to a reply to my last complaint- though I got a 'we know you're waiting email a month ago.
I'd be interested in knowing how Sarah Gregory/BBC managed to ask Karen White about "preferred pronouns". Did they ring the prison?
Given the FACT that KW is a multiple convicted rapist, using the word " she" is an oxymoron surely?
It was @Datun who I said I would post the reply on the thread above
"There is also a pan-BBC women’s network for the development and progression of women at the BBC and to support the BBC’s aim of achieving a gender balanced workforce at all levels by 2020."
That's all lovely, but will Trans Women are included in their ideal of a "gender balanced workforce"? If so, then realistically they might on paper achieve 50/50 equality, or better for 'women', but actually only include a small percentage of people who are natal women (/were born women).
Sorry Sarah, I had not read the other thread, I am really appalled.
You have so much courage.
I'm not on FB so can't read the first link.
I agree that it is gaslighting and potentially likely to result in PTSD.
A couple of thoughts and apologies that I am out of the loop.
Did you put it in as a letter or did you put it in as a formal complaint?
If it is a formal complaint there is an appeals process and eventually it ends up at Ofcom.
Personally, I'd write to every MP on the Commons Select Committee for Media and Culture or whatever it is these days ( link) and copy in your own MP with a covering letter.
Especially if, as it seems, the police are being told to record these people as " women" and the Beeb is using this as cover for their own appalling lack of feeling.
Top down, rather than struggling to push your voice upwards.
They can't then claim that they didn't know about this crap.
Well done for writing Sarahjconnor the BBC are just embarrassing themselves over ‘pronouns’.
Ah just re read again and see that she has referred you to their complaints procedure.
If you feel up to it, escalate it. I'd still copy it to the MPs. It will focus the Beebs mind even though the MPs may initially write back and say you need to use the complaints procedure.
Don't let anyone say they didn't know.
here is my letter to them with large sections of personal information redacted:
12 October 2018
Dear Mr Hall
[redacted] my whole life has been set to a soundtrack dominated by the BBC. From Play School to Grange Hill, Top of the Pops to Life on Earth, I have been educated, entertained and informed by your programming. [redacted]. But I am utterly dismayed by your bias and conduct in relation to women and girls safety and mental health, women's rights and feminism.
In 1992 Sir Jimmy Savile tried to assault me [redacted]. I fought him off forcefully and was then physically beaten by his bodyguard/minder. I informed the West Yorkshire Police who refused to investigate and told me I should not tell lies about such a wonderful man. I wrote to the BBC to advise them and did not receive a reply. I showed both the Police and the BBC the bruises on my body and the ripped clothing I had been wearing. A year later, still very troubled by the incident, I wrote again, and this time I received a threatening telephone call from the BBC telling me that if I repeated my 'lies' to anyone else or contacted the BBC again, they would disclose my name, address and telephone number to Jimmy Savile to pursue an investigation into slander. I was terrified and did not contact the Police or BBC again out of fear I would be attacked by Saville.
When I gave evidence at Operation Yewtree I told Dame Janet Smith that the behaviour of the Police and BBC had made me mentally ill and caused PTSD as I have repeatedly relived the experience doubting my own sanity, until ITV broadcast their documentary vindicating victims. Dame Janet apologised on behalf of your organisation and told me that there would be changes to prevent anything like this happening again. I specifically asked what the BBC had done to ensure that predators were not allowed to abuse women and girls whilst receiving it's significant protection in the form of gaslighting and lying.
This rapist [Karen White] was placed in a women's jail as a result of self identification, an act you appear to be entirely supporting. You also refer to Karen White as 'she' which I feel is gaslighting and causing PTSD in his victims. Why are a male rapists preferred pronouns more important than a rape victims right to honest testimony and mental health?
Seeing you refer to Karen White as 'she', and Fair Play for women, an organisation looking after women's rights, an 'anti trans' group and silence your presenters on Women's Hour, I am just appalled. Why do you treat women, particularly vulnerable women like Savile and White's victims with such contempt? Why do you gaslight them and lie to them? Why do you not offer balance and allow debate? You refer to 'school girls being harassed' rather than 'men sexually harassing children' in news articles and until very recently continued using the expression 'child prostitute' in reference to victims of sexual exploitation and abuse.
I wish to complain about your misogyny and ask for a thorough investigation into the misogyny your organisation has displayed towards women, on so many occasions. Personally, you have caused me mental health problems thru your support of Savile and your respectful treatment of male rapist Karen White. That male rapist has no certificate and is not a woman, having never shown any interest in transition, only a disgusting desire to dress a woman, access women's spaces and attack them. Why?
I am also incredibly disappointed at your bullying of women who have tried to debate these issues. A picture of the legendary women's rights campaigner Karen Ingala Smith appeared on your website with the slur 'TERF' across it. This woman dedicates her life to educating people about and preventing male violence but you belittle and humiliate her. You know the risk you put her in when there are so many violent threats made my men and transwomen against ‘TERFS’ Shame on you.
I am appalled by your conduct and offended on behalf of the brilliant minds that have dedicate their lives to your organisation. How can you explain your misogyny?
Sorry - to made no sense without my letter. I feel so muddled by it all. Apologies.
Blimey, that's one powerful letter. No words really as to what you have been through.
I'm even more angry at the reply you received having read your letter. How bloody well dare she write to you like that. It reminded me straight away of the threatening phone call you had as a girl but just a tad more subtle with the gaslighting tone.
Have you ever spoken with NAPAC? I that know you are an able and articulate woman * Sarah*, but it helps not to carry it all yourself.
NAPAC did a lot with Saville stuff so please don't reply here, just mentioning them napac.org.uk/
you are awsome.
so sorry the letter in reply is crap.
Sarahjconnor you're doing sterling work. You really do deserve a better response from them.
sorry, did I say the BBC were embarrassing themselves? Having read your letter their response in regards to pronouns is just fucking offensive.
I am going to gather a full list of all the articles that have been offensive and write back. I am just very tired of thinking about these horrible men
Sarah what shites the BBC are
So fucking woke and complicit with saville
More strength to you and 🍺💪💪
And having me own fight with the woke idiots at bbc but nowt compared to you
What was it that Julia HB said
The claptrap that the bbc spout
i read the reply last night and shook my head at the usual bbc crap
then I read your letter this morning Sarah and realised just how offensive and fucking limp that reply is
the culture which made it more important to protect a powerful man than to protect women and children is still fully in place isn't it?
The typos in my letter are making me cringe.
I have a list of all the misogyny in my head but am struggling to gather links, specific times/days - can anyone help?
You are amazing Sarah, I used to work at the bbc and I'm appalled by everything from the 'standard' of journalism to their reply sent to you.
What can we do to help? Could you send your letter and their reply with another letter to the Media and Culture secretary as a PP suggested? Could you go to other media like the newspapers or C4?
They absolutely need to be exposed as the misogynists and I say this as a woman who worked there, supported by a number of women in senior positions.
I've stopped watching bbc news so I feel unable to write a letter as I no longer consume their nonsense but if I can help by writing to my MP or do anything please let me know.
I'm so sorry you've had such horrific experiences. I believe you. You are incredible.
That letter is very strong stuff. well done! If you are up to it i would escalate.
Feel let down by the BBC - OP treated appallingly.
Recently I have stopped buying the Guardian over this trans business and am seriously considering not voting Labour for the first time in my life over the LM thing, and now this! If I boycott the Beeb and have to watch commercial shite what's the point anymore?
It's like all of the organisations I have admired and trusted in my life are collectively going bonkers!
I think the more recent series on gender on Woman's Hour has been better. You may feel that their reply is a cop out, but perhaps your letter helped to wake some people up.
@Sarahjconnor bloody hell - I had no idea of your history - but you are awesome. How you had the strength to write to the BBC after what you've been through is astounding. And how brave of you to post details of your history on MN.
The BBC have added insult to injury with that letter. My interpretation is that they actually have not taken your letter seriously at all, and are hoping that if they throw enough platitudes at you, you will shut up and go away.
What do you want to do next?
Sarah, my darling, I know you've only put part of the story on this thread. You're not imagining it: they don't understand anything you've said to them. If you have the stamina, I think you should continue to pursue. But if it's too much, put yourself first. If there's anything I can do in a practical way, tell me and I'll do it.
I've woken up this morning feeling very cynical about my power to make any dent on their attitudes.
I would really appreciate links to news articles/days times of radio/tv etc. if anyone has a record. I have a mental list but I think I need specifics.
Is this thread any good, m'dear?
The letter itself is a bit shit, but the fact that they felt they had to respond may be a good sign. It's better than the Guardian's "don't even acknowledge negative feeback, just wield banhammer" approach. Though that may mostly indicate how amateur hour the Graun is in relation to the Beeb.
I am so sorry, and so angry, for what happened to you. That you are still fighting is amazing.
I sent in a complaint a while ago, the thread discussing it is www.mumsnet.com/Talk/womens_rights/3404873-Reply-from-BBC-on-clashes-on-both-sides?pg=1&order=. It may or may not be useful as an example. One of very very many.
@merrymouse DH said that and Jane Gavey was clear that she would not call Karen White 'she' on the later stuff - it did seem better didn't it? Maybe the editor heard me? Idk.
I would point out that the form im sorry that you feel is not an apology, it’s a method of shifting blame back to the complainant
Thank you @Langcleg that is very useful
I would very very much appreciate
1) examples of specific things from BBC (that thread Lang linked is very useful)
2) help picking apart what is wrong with the reply - why is it making me cry with frustration
i) 'I am sorry you feel"
ii) they didn't interview KW and did not confirm his choice of pronouns - what are they on about
iii) KW is a rapist, all rapists are men
thank you all
The whole section on pronouns is a non-answer.
You have complained that they have a blanket policy of preferred pronouns even when the person in question is a rapist and paedophile and even when the reporting is about self-identification within institutions that goes beyond the law and has resulted in women being assaulted. Your complaint is that in such an instance they have prioritised the convicted rapist over the triggering trauma suffered by their women viewers and listeners who are survivors of sexual assault.
They haven't responded to your complaint: they've simply reiterated the basis for it by telling you that they have a blanket policy of preferred pronoun usage.
Maybe "thank you for your response, but you still have not addressed my concerns/answered my question".
(Since "that's neither a proper answer nor a real apology you cowardly mendacious arseholes", while heartfelt and honest, may be perceived as uncivil.)
Maybe the editor heard me?
I think so, and also that it may have made other people at WH feel more confident about presenting and seeking out alternative viewpoints.
To answer one of your questions Sarahjconnor, I think the BBC's reply is making you cry with frustration because of several factors:
1) Nobody at the BBC has not acknowledged the organisation's cover-up or threats that were made to you when you reported what Savile did to you. The corporation's actions were morally bankrupt, illegal and unfair, so it's not surprising that you're so upset. They have wronged you!
2) The BBC is deliberately ignoring the fact that, as you say, under UK law, only males can rape because the definition of "rape" involves penetration by a penis. In the UK, a women cannot rape someone. So, by referring to Karen White as "she,' they are gaslighting you and denying the actual, proven fact that Karen White is a rapist and is in prison because of this. Which is frustrating. It's compounding the abuse you've suffered, adding insult to injury.
3) Nobody has actually apologised properly to you, have they? As you've said, "I'm sorry you feel...." is not a real apology. So you feel unheard and unimportant. Which you're not at all, you're amazing and this thread is full of people who hear you loud and clear, but the people you need to hear you are not listening.
It just seems like justice and fairness are not happening.
I'm so angry for you, and so in awe of your strength in trying to tackle this.
** apologies for double negative in my previous post - obvs I meant to say "Nobody at the BBC has acknowledged .."
Sarahjconnor I had no idea you had been through all that.
I'm amazed at your strength and disappointed that I can offer nothing helpful.
You are a class act.
You need to understand their procedures. These are weasels with weasel words.
I suggest that you instigate the complaints procedure rather than just write a letter to the same person. Jump over her head now.
The complaints procedure is referred to in their reply to you. There is a clickety link in the reply.
I would start by complaining about the response that you have had to your letter. ( Attach your letter and BBC reply as appendices)
Say in your complaint WHY that reply is unacceptable as per MrsSpencerGregson and what you want to happen.
Add other evidence as appendices.
When they reply to your complaint, you can then appeal if they refuse to apologise, and escalate it further.
I wonder to what extent the carefully worded non-admittance of fault in regards to Savile is the result of consultation with lawyers who may have pointed out that admitting responsibility opens the door to being sued?
If you have the capacity to keep at it then yep, complaints procedures. A lot of the successes TRAs have had have come as a result of making an absolute bloody nuisance of themselves. Women are socialized to stop well before that point, but maybe we need to try to push past that.
OP I have a feeling you are instrumental in bringing change. Things are shifting a bit. Think of all the women at the beeb who are totally on your side but are quietly suppressing their fury.
If you can keep it up, keep escalating. Keep pushing through. The Karen White issue shows they got the wrong end of the stick. They assumed White was a guest. They need to look at that properly and give you a better justification for calling White 'she' or change their policy with an apology to all the women harmed by it.
<sends bat signal to @R0wantrees > do you have anything which would help Sarah please?
And Sarah you are so bloody brave. Your letter is so powerful, and all they’ve written back are mealy-mouthed empty words which, when analysed, amount to nothing. If you can, go for the complaints procedure. Let us know if we can help
I’ve often heard/seen things from the BBC which make me so cross. You’re bravery has inspired me to never put up with this again. I will be complaining every single time they use misogynistic language or are sexist.
I hope others do the same!
When I read their reply it sounded like a load of cop out bullshit. Upon reading what you sent them first I’m really fucking angry at them. How dare they reply with such crap, the pronouns argument they give is like a slap in the face. The women these men hurt were raped by a male, not a female, not a woman but a male. To tell these victims otherwise is disgusting. If one of my abusers were to come out and I was told I was raped by a woman I’d be fucking livid. Given the mental health issues I suffer because of nasty rapist men, I would probably want to end it all than suffer the embarrassment of people thinking I was raped by a woman as realistically, if I corrected them I’d face more abuse. I’m so tired of the bullshit use of pronouns. If you were born a male you will always be a male, get over it. For people that are proud of being trans, they sure don’t like being reminded that’s what they are.
I’m sorry for what you have gone through Sarahjconnor.
All I can say is I agree with the above comments, a woman can only be raised by a man. Using a rapist’s preferred pronouns when referring to their crimes is despicable. Reporting needs to be factual and objective, KW is a man and his feelings on his gender presentation should not be validated in this way. Well done for raising this, keep pushing if you feel able.
I am so sorry for what happened to you and the response you have received here @Sarahjconnor
But thank you for speaking up. You are braver than them.
I am going to compile a list of links and days/times of specific broadcasts here, if anyone has things to add - tweets/whatever it is much appreciated. Thanks:
Stop centring children in their abuse:
Women's hour referred to KW as a woman, repeatedly but then recently as a man, how can I find out dates of broadcast?
2 males, setting women straight on how they should 'woman':
the difference between this explanation:
A lot of what is linked is trans rights activism rather than straight forward misogyny.
Any more examples anyone has much appreciated.
Please make sure you take care of yourself while you are doing all this Sarah
Sarah please don’t feel you have to find numerous examples of their shitty reporting. It sounds like you have several, you can put them in your letter and state “these are a few recent examples”.
Re Karen white, point out that KE was not a guest on any programme so how did they “check” their pronouns?
Lizzie has a really good point there Sarah, just give some clear and recent examples.
Please do not burn yourself out searching and searching.
Stick to the main points of your complaint which is about YOU and how YOU feel, with appendices and some recent examples. Highlight the key points regarding the disgraceful response to you from the BBC re KW. These points have been made so well here, by yourself and others.
KW was not a guest, but an imprisoned rapist.
You are an amazing and courageous woman. Most important is your well being and mental health.
It is very triggering what you are doing, I really understand, please look after your health. We care.
Thanks so much women of FC.
I have just got back from a meal with my youngest DB and a family friend where I told them everything that has happened to me at the hands of horrible men and the BBC and West Yorks Police and he was so kind and supportive - open mouthed in horror and shock that I'd been hiding it so long. It was like a weight lifted off me. Thanks for giving me the courage to tell him, he read my full letter and stood up and clapped in the pub .
Good on you for telling him, been concerned about you.
Fantastic DB Sarah, and fantastic you
he read my full letter and stood up and clapped in the pub
Yay! No more than you deserve, darling.
Oh that’s brilliant. I know this isn’t about me but I remember telling the first person who believed me about my abuse, it gave me some sort of invisible strength and helped me a lot. I’m glad you’ve managed to tell someone and having that support makes you stronger.
It's interesting that the reply has come from HR. You have complained about editorial output and yet they have pushed it back to HR to answer. Why? My view is that the whole pronoun bollix comes from the diversity and inclusion people who are part of HR. They have enforced the Stonewall policy on every one whether they want to or not and so this question was pushed back to them to answer. HR writing about editorial and programme interviewing policy. Very unusual. So why? I suspect a bit of disowning going on at the production end. If HR are forcing production to use pronouns let them deal with the problems it causes.
That's why it is such a shallow answer. They are shallow people. The ideology they are enforcing is shallow and they have a shallow understanding of it and no real clue why they are doing it in the first place other than #inclusion.
some examples of bias here
you are awesome
I don't have any more wisdom to add to the advice already here but wanted to say thank you for doing this. I think it's hugely valuable that you are reminding people both here and at the BBC how awful Saville was and that they have not really learnt anything.
You truly are brave
From the BBC letter The BBC seeks to lead the way in creating a fully inclusive culture which values women’s contributions and supports women to succeed.
This is how much the BBC has supported women to succeed. They manage to squeeze in three women out of a board of thirteen members.
I want to echo all the wonderful comments on here Sarah, you may not feel that you are, but you must be incredibly strong to have coped with all this, and still be pushing against the BBC.
With regard to White, I think I would ask specific questions, such as when does a transgender person (who it not available to question) become the other gender? Do they have to have a GRC? IF so, how do they know? How do they decide on someone who is gender fluid, but unable to conform how they wish to be addressed? How do they expect the general public to follow this, as it is impossible to understand without reference to ‘trans’ Should they not state that , legally, perpetrators of rape can only be Male? Etc etc.
This is an area of BBC policy that should be open and clear to all.
Thanks for all the support. I am drafting my response and wondered if anyone can remember the BBC interview where a TRA said
"there are different types of women, trans women, black women, angry women"
I remember hearing the "angry women" comment, can't remember what programme it was on. Was it Joss Prior or Juno Dawson? Or maybe Jane Fae on PM? IIRC, it was then alluded to again in a "lots of women wouldn't want to share a changing room with an angry woman" way.
Also, Sarah, you're incredible.
Was it Sophie Cooke with Mark Urban on Newsnight?
anyone can remember the BBC interview where a TRA said "there are different types of women, trans women, black women, angry women"
I think the comment came up during an LBC programme with Dr Julia Long (see OP there):
The trans-activist they on says that we should make space for all kinds of women: including "angry" women.
Yes, now there are women, angry women and trans women.
I'm really not, but I am fucking furious. A seriously angry middle aged woman is a force of nature,
I think i'm done. I am going to sit on it overnight and send it at some point over the weekend.
I would put the disciplining of that WH host for writing reasonably and respectfully. That was shocking and showed how little power women have in the BBC.
Keep going OP - justice can be hard won. You deserve better than what was sent. Keep being angry but also take care of your mental health xx
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