What the hell, Helen?

For the second time in three months, Helen Mirren delivers a cringe-worthy quote about rape.

By Kate Harding
Published November 17, 2008 8:22PM (UTC)
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Dear Helen Mirren, please stop talking about rape. Please.

Not three months after the GQ interview in which Mirren referred to date rape as "one of the many subtle parts of the men/women relationship that has to be negotiated and worked out between them," she's inspired another worldwide chorus of WTFs with remarks about female jurors on rape cases being "sexually jealous" of the victims. In yesterday's Sunday Times (UK), she's quoted as saying:

"In a rape case the courts in defence of a man would select as many women as they could for the jury, because women go against women. Whether in a deep-seated animalistic way, going back billions of years, or from a sense of tribal jealousy or just antagonism, I don't know. But other women on a rape case would say she was asking for it. The only reason I can think of is that they're sexually jealous."

And this comes on the heels of her talking about female journalists "who are mean-spirited and nasty because you are another woman and want to make you feel crap" -- which, ironically, comes on the heels of her saying, "In my heart of hearts I love women more than I love men." Wait, what? You think women are wonderful -- except for the part where they're nasty, competitive bitches who will look at a rape victim and say she was asking for it out of "sexual jealousy?" I just ... what?

In my heart of hearts, I want to love Helen Mirren. I want to love any woman who is almost universally regarded as a mad force to be reckoned with -- intellectually, professionally and red bikinially -- in her 60s. And to be fair, Chrissy Iley, the Times interviewer, seems seriously hung up on Mirren's sexuality and might well have pushed the "women are catty" line of discussion, given that she clearly agrees with it. ("[S]he's right. On the whole, women don't like other women, because women are competitive with each other," Iley writes, as if this is established scientific fact, and not one of the top 10 all-time negative female stereotypes.) But please, Dame Helen, I'm begging you. The next time you're tempted to say the word "rape" in an interview, think twice. Think, like, six or seven times if you need to.


Kate Harding

Kate Harding is the author of Asking For It: The Alarming Rise of Rape Culture--and What We Can Do About It, available from Da Capo Press in August 2015. Previously, she collaborated with Anna Holmes, Amanda Hess, and a cast of thousands on The Book of Jezebel, and with Marianne Kirby on Lessons from the Fat-o-Sphere. You might also remember her as the founding editor of Shapely Prose (2007-2010). Kate's essays have appeared in the anthologies Madonna & Me, Yes Means Yes, Feed Me, and Airmail: Women of Letters. She holds an M.F.A. in fiction from Vermont College of Fine Arts and a B.A. in English from University of Toronto, and is currently at work on a Ph.D. in creative writing from Bath Spa University

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