THE WIT AND WISDOM OF MARY WHITEHOUSE

Mary Whitehouse stepped onto the public stage 50 years ago in 1964. To some she was the guardian of Christian family values, to others a self-appointed busybody. She spent decades campaigning for a responsible media and against harmful material. Ironically much of what we know about her views has come to us filtered by the media itself. This is Mary Whitehouse in her own words taken from the books she wrote during her lifetime.


May 2014

“Satire, that matchless weapon for exposing the unworthy and the dangerous, has lost its power and become little more than a dirty joke.”

Cleaning Up TV, 1967

“We see ourselves as members of a community trying to think out what contribution we can make to television as well as the contribution television can make to society.”

Who Does She Think She Is, 1971

“A nation’s youth is its greatest asset.”

Whatever Happened to Sex, 1977

“The obsession with sex in our day has its roots in a deep shrinking away from reality.”

Whatever Happened to Sex, 1977

“What is happening now is the inevitable sequel to the ridicule and destruction of moral values.”

Who Does She Think She Is, 1971

On OFCOM: “Instead of the government providing a vehicle for the voice of the viewer it has provided little more than a convenient means for the broadcasters to deflect criticism of their programmes.”

Quite Contrary, 1993

“One is frequently challenged to define pornography: pornography does dirt on sex, it does violence to it too.”

Whatever Happened to Sex, 1977

“I sometimes think that we have been attacked as we have, not because the perpetrators of TV violence believed we were the cranks they called us but because they knew we were touching on the truth.”

A Most Dangerous Woman, 1982

“Did the producer stop to think of the effect of the dripping blood and swinging head on the countless children watching in the early evening?”

Letter to the BBC, 1967

“If switching off is all we do we become part of one of the fundamental problems.”

Mightier Than The Sword, 1985

“Does the right of the adult to have pornography freely available outstrip the right of the child to be protected from it?”

Whatever Happened to Sex, 1977

“We do not say we are always right, but we do say we have a right to be heard;  to deny us that right, to attempt to silence us by ridicule and abuse, as has been done, is to exercise censorship of a most dangerous kind.”

Cleaning Up TV, 1967

 

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April 2014

“There are enough words in the English language to get punchy and gutsy speech without resorting to obscenity.”

Cleaning Up TV, 1967

“Whether or not we switch off the television set, we cannot switch off from the society in which it exists and helps to create.”

Mightier Than The Sword, 1985

“In a society which is prepared to give pornography the adult seal of approval the child is immensely vulnerable.”

Whatever Happened to Sex, 1977

“The laughter is ringing hollow as we realise the cost to our children of the mass-produced giggle.”

A Most Dangerous Woman, 1982

On television: “If it is sometimes a debasing influence, it could equally be a great ennobling force if we cared enough.”

Cleaning Up TV, 1967

“Behind the persuasive talk of those who equate freedom with a lowering of the age of consent there lies a streak of cruelty and exploitation.”

Quite Contrary, 1993

“Pornography is an ideological weapon.”

Who Does She Think She Is, 1971

“Film is a glamorising medium and it can – and does – glamorise evil as well as good.”

Whatever Happened to Sex, 1977

“Television makes far more impact than the printed word… one picture is worth a thousand words in animated, coloured, close up”

Mightier Than The Sword, 1985

“Porn is the enemy of a healthy sex life.”

Whatever Happened to Sex, 1977

“Viewers have a right to try to uphold standards which they feel important; not only in their own homes but the quality of culture generally. That is not a triviality.”

Quite Contrary, 1993

“It’s important that children grow up with a positive, balanced and healthy approach to sex.”

Who Does She Think She Is, 1971

“No movement, with the exception of communism and fascism, has practised censorship more rigidly than those who bellow for the abolition of all controls.”

Whatever Happened to Sex, 1977


March 2014

“The story of broadcasting vividly highlights the power of those who have access to the media to make nonsense of the lessons of human experience.”

Quite Contrary, 1993

“In my view the people who are anti sex are the who people who exploit and depersonalise sex, who make sex and women properties for advertisement and commercialisation.”

Who Does She Think She Is, 1971

“The unthinkable has become the do-able and it is a very short step from the do-able to the done and from the done to be the done thing.”

Whatever Happened to Sex, 1977

“To reduce the act of love to an ugly obscenity is to demean the very essence of love.”

Quite Contrary, 1993

“The greatest danger, particularly to the young, is that we may come to accept as normal what is, in fact, exceptional and vile.”

Who Does She Think She Is, 1971

“It is important that we all take the trouble to praise what is good as well as criticise what is bad.”

The Pen is Mightier Than the Sword, 1985

“Anarchists acknowledge the power of the media to influence attitudes and behaviour, even if those immediately responsible for transmission and distribution still bury their heads in the golden sand.”

 Whatever Happened to Sex, 1967

“We have betrayed our young people into the hands of manipulators who exploit their immaturity and aimlessness for their own ends.”

Cleaning Up TV, 1967

“Our campaign was born out of our own personal and vivid experience of the impact of television on the young for whom we were responsible.”

Mightier Than The Sword, 1985

“If society accepts the free distribution and display of pornography then inevitably it will fall into the hands of children.”

Whatever Happened to Sex, 1967

“I have the dubious distinction of being the only British author to have a book publicly burned on television – in this country at any rate.”

A Most Dangerous Woman, 1982

“Communication without feedback is not communication.”

Who Does She Think She Is, 1971

“Gang bang suggests a romp – give a crime a jolly name and even depravity and multiple rape sounds fun.”

Whatever Happened to Sex, 1977


February 2014

“A simple choice: between genuine freedom and total licence, between cultural responsibility and cultural anarchy.”

A Most Dangerous Woman, 1982

What we are is inseparable from the cumulative effect of all we have seen, read and experienced.”

Whatever Happened to Sex, 1977

It was the failure of the broadcasting professionals to seek to understand the impact of their work upon people.”

Who Does She Think She Is, 1971

Pornography is an emasculation in which there is no mutual exchange of emotion and tenderness.”

Whatever Happened to Sex, 1977

Censorship, effectively but sparingly used, is a liberal concept since it would protect the lifestyle of the vast majority”

Quite Contrary, 1993

“If violence is constantly portrayed as normal on the television screen that will help to create a violent society.”

Mightier Than The Sword, 1985

“None of us can avoid the all-pervasive sex sells syndrome which is fundamental to the advertising industry.”

Whatever Happened to Sex, 1977

“The onus is surely on the Broadcasting Authorities to act on behalf of the public.”

From a letter to the Chairman of the Independent Television Authority, 1968

“TV:  the most powerful medium ever to affect the thinking and behaviour of people.”

Mightier Than The Sword, 1985

“It is this moving of sex away from people into a commercialised and non-personal setting which militates totally against healthy sex and love.”

Who Does She Think She Is, 1971

“We trivialise the argument about what is and what is not acceptable in public and private attitudes and behaviour if we reduce the issue to personal taste.”

Quite Contrary, 1993


January 2014

No other age has exploited violent crime, as ours does, by constantly exploiting it as entertainment.”

Mightier Than The Sword, 1985

There is far more overt, than direct, sex education.”

Whatever Happened to Sex, 1977

I emphasise the need for everyone – wherever they stand on the spectrum of taste and standards to make his or her voice heard.”

Whatever Happened to Sex, 1977.”

“We have created a candy-floss society in which the young can find little of hard substance on which to cut teeth of conviction.”

Cleaning Up TV, 1967

“We shall raise a generation which either grasps at sex as a physical lust or treats it simply as a passing fancy, no more.”

Quite Contrary, 1993

The censorship of fact whether political or civil is indefensible”

Who Does She Think She Is, 1971

“Broadcasters should not take their decisions in a social vacuum.”

Quite Contrary, 1993

“If women are most frequently shown as cheap, self-interested and superficial, such an image will come to be accepted as the norm”

Cleaning Up TV, 1967

“The creative growth of a society, and its stability, depend on the willingness of the individual to accept responsibility for his behaviour.”

Who Does She Think She Is, 1971

“The new libertarians are, in fact, the new tyrants.  They launch an assault upon the senses and freedom of the individual which is the essence of the worst kind of dictatorship.”

Who Does She Think She Is, 1971

“Those who think that the increasing acceptance of obscenities is simply part of an evolving contemporary society are being dangerously naive.”

A Most Dangerous Woman, 1982

“Because it is such a powerful and all-pervasive medium, TV is bound to play a key role in creating the quality of life we all experience.”

Mightier Than The Sword, 1985

“Today our society ruthlessly exploits the minds and emotions of young people for financial and political capital.”

Quite Contrary, 1993

“Sex is wonderful!  It’s our life force and our existence as human beings depends on it.”

What Ever Happened to Sex, 1977