Joan Bakewell slams the commercialisation of sex

Broadcaster Dame Joan Bakewell has conceded that some of Mary Whitehouse’s concerns about the sexual liberation of the 1960s may have been justified.

Dame Joan was a long time opponent of Mrs Whitehouse, a devout Christian, who rose to prominence after she took a stand against the declining moral standards on TV.

But now, writing in the Radio Times, Dame Joan has criticised the commercialisation of sex and the sexualisation of the nation’s children.


Dame Joan said: “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.

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

“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.

“I never thought I would hear myself say as much, but ‘I’m with Mrs Whitehouse on this one’.”

But despite her concerns Dame Joan welcomes the liberalisation of the permissive 1960s and remains steadfastly opposed to the strict TV standards for which Mrs Whitehouse so stridently campaigned.


Writing in The Daily Telegraph Dame Joan said: “The television writers of the Sixties, such as Nell Dunn and Dennis Potter, and film-makers such as Ken Loach, exposed the hypocrisy of Fifties’ values.

“That’s fine. We need more people to do the same in our culture today, as Michael Winterbottom tried to do with his explicit film 9 Songs.”

Last month the self-proclaimed “aging sex symbol” Raquel Welch blamed the contraceptive pill for destroying commitment and damaging the institution of marriage.


The Hollywood actress said the Pill has given the illusion that sex has no consequences and she cautioned against plummeting moral standards.

The four-time married actress is well aware of the irony of her comments.

She said: “Seriously, folks, if an aging sex symbol like me starts waving the red flag of caution over how low moral standards have plummeted, you know it’s gotta be pretty bad.”


And Shere Hite, whose book on female sexual experimentation was a bestseller, also said that she regrets taking the Pill.

Writing in The Times she said: “I remember how excited women around me were that we were now free to experiment sexually”.

“I wrote a book that fitted so perfectly with this mindset that it reverberated through the world as No 1 on bestseller lists in 29 countries”, she said.

But, the author continued, “Today I rue the days I took the Pill. It was wonderful and horrible, symbolic of the extremes of the 1960s and of the difficulties that women still face.”


Earlier this year teenage girls hit out at modern liberal mums who do little to protect them from ‘pornified’ boys.

“I wish my parents would say I’m not allowed to be home alone with a boy”, said one 16-year-old girl. “I wish they’d say boys aren’t allowed in my bedroom.

“They make this big deal about ‘trusting us’, but that’s not helping me”, she said. “They have no idea what goes on, and I’m too embarrassed to tell them.”

Research revealed that many teenage girls are being pressurised by their boyfriends to engage in sexual acts taken from pornographic films.

Journalist Penny Marshall, writing for the Daily Mail, disclosed harrowing stories of young girls who say demands from teenage boyfriends are often both “disturbing and upsetting”.

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