There's a big problem with this panel for debate on sexual assault

There's a big problem with this panel for debate on sexual assault

In light of the seemingly never-ending allegations of sexual assault that are coming of out Hollywood and parliament in the UK, there has been much discussion and debate regarding the subject and what we can do to combat it. On Wednesday night, the BBC decided to host an episode of Newsnight entitled "The Problem With Men" which aimed to talk about the weight of the allegations that have gathered pace over the last few days and have seen the UK Defence Secretary Michael Fallon resign.

However, while Newsnight were trying to create a positive discourse whereby there was a calm and polite discussion regarding sexual assault, they appeared to make one massive blunder: they hired a large group of men to discuss the issue.

The visuals of 12 men facing three women, as well as some of the things that the men said, appalled and shocked many. While many of the younger men tended to emphasise that they understand why women are intimidated by men, the older generation said that the shift in culture had left them feeling like they can't approach women anymore.

One man claimed that he was "normally a fairly lovable, easy-going kind of character" but that the revelations and culture shift mean that "now I wait for women to come to me"

"They invariably want to kiss me on the cheek and give me a hug," the man stressed.

Another older man lamented that "this PC (political correctness) has gone to such an extreme these days".

One of the men said that he felt that if he tapped a woman on the shoulder to point out that she'd dropped something, he could be done for sexual harassment.

"Have we lost our common sense?" asked host Emily Maitlis at one point, as one panellist answered: "Absolutely."

People weren't happy with the selection of the panel, with comedian Frankie Boyle branding them as "a cross-section of complete lunatics".

Newsnight went on to show a poll of what men define as sexual harassment, which prompted one Twitter user to say "I don't care what men think" about the issue.

Jess Brammar, the deputy editor of Newsnight, was quick to defend the show from the critics, saying the episode aimed to give a platform to men's views "rather than repeatedly watch women try to explain these issues and behaviour".

She continued: "We have and will continue to, put women on night after night to talk about their experiences."

The women who were sitting across from the men in the studio were Everyday Sexism project founder Laura Bates, writer Eliza Anyangwe and broadcaster Shelagh Fogarty.

Speaking about the discussion, Anyangwe said: "We have framed this discussion entirely inaccurately, this is a conversation about power.... whether or not a male friend touches me on my shoulder is inconsequential."

Bates echoed this opinion, saying: "12 million women around the world have shared their experiences."

"You won’t find one of them saying 'I'm outraged someone touched me on the elbow to let me know I'd dropped something'... This is ridiculous. We're completely reframing the conversation."

What do you think? Was it stupid of Newsnight to have such a male-dominated panel, or were they simply creating a platform for men to speak up in what tends to be a female-dominated debate? I, personally, would've liked to have seen 12 women and 12 men, as that would've made for a more interesting and equal discussion.