Days after 5FM DJ Gareth Cliff’s on-air remark that “22-year-old girls do nothing but lie on their backs with their legs open”, the furore continues, with a top women’s magazine editor calling for people to ignore and boycott him.
But Cliff remains unrepentant, saying: “It is insulting in turn to be called sexist.”
During an interview on his show with Angela Larkan, 27, an Aids activist who started charity work at the age of 19, Cliff commended Larkan and said “22-year-olds usually do nothing but lie on their backs with their legs open”.
DA councillor Tex Collins subsequently reported Cliff to the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of SA because he was appalled by the remark.
Collins said Cliff had sent out the message that “every young girl is nothing but a prostitute and a whore”.
Yesterday, outgoing editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan magazine, Vanessa Raphaely, tweeted: “Hey @CosmopolitanSA readers @GarethCliff thinks you spend your life on your backs with your legs open … Unfollow, boycott, switch off, ignore.”
Raphaely told the Cape Times: “He’s Gareth Cliff and he has such an enormous audience and he is so powerful that he thinks he can say what he pleases and anyone who challenges him, he refutes completely. I don’t think that anyone can make a generalisation like that. Any stereotyping in a harmful way is offensive.”
She added: “Being obnoxious is part of his persona and I’m sure a lot of people agree with him, but others don’t. I believe in free speech, I just don’t have to agree with him or follow him on Twitter. People should stop giving him attention. I find what he said very depressing, there is no generalisation about a 22-year-old, they are all different.”
Cliff posted his official statement on his website, saying his remark was not aimed at offending anyone. “I refute the allegation and consider it insulting in turn to be called sexist. The reason I had Angela on my show is because she is precisely the opposite of the kind of girl I am alleged to have offended. It is unfortunate in the extreme that an interview about a terrific cause and effort by a philanthropist should be turned into a controversy about Gareth Cliff. This is the ruinous reflection of the depth to which public discourse has sunk,” he said.
Cliff’s manager, Rina Bloomberg, said: “The story is being misconstrued and is detracting from the good this woman (Larkan) is doing.
“Immediately after he said it, he said he was joking and just making a point. This whole thing is being blown out of proportion and it’s unfortunate. The philanthropist should be getting all the attention, she deserves the publicity.”
Some comments on Cliff’s website read: “Some understood it in the tongue-in-cheek manner you said it” and “To be honest, I never noticed that remark. I was totally impressed by the lady in question.” - Cape Times