Ulrika Jonsson has called for the issue of male violence against women to be taught in schools because “not every young boy is brought up in a household of equity and equality”.
The TV star also criticised a tweet from Davina McCall who said “fear-mongering” following the death of Sarah Everard “isn’t healthy” and added: “Men’s mental health is an issue as well. Calling all men out as dangerous is bad for our sons, brothers, partners.”
Ms Everard, a 33-year-old marketing executive, went missing while walking home from a friend’s flat on March 3.
Serving Metropolitan Police officer Wayne Couzens, 48, has been charged with kidnapping and murdering her.
Jonsson told ITV’s Lorraine: “The case of Sarah Everard has brought back lots of feelings that I think in some respects we haven’t been dwelling on because we have been in the middle of a pandemic and we are thinking about lots of other things.
“I suddenly just reflected on the fact that every single woman that I know, my close friends, some extended friends, have had some form of harassment or violence – verbal, physical or whatever. And I was actually quite horrified by that realisation.”
She said when she first moved to London her father gave her advice on how to protect herself, saying: “So I was told to keep a big coat in the back of my car, to try maybe possibly to walk in the middle of the road as opposed to on the dark pavement and also to have my keys in my hand and just be ready and be prepared.
“And oftentimes I would just stop and pretend to be looking in my handbag and let somebody pass me because I felt intimidated by a man walking behind me.
“And it’s so ironic that I accepted, so many women have accepted that that is how we should behave.”
Jonsson, who is mother to two sons and two daughters, added: “We talk about teaching girls self-defence and I did self-defence classes when I was in my teens.
“I am guessing if someone did attack me, I am not sure how much I would remember of that… I think those sort of things are really useful but at the roots we need to really be having healthy conversations with men because not every young boy is brought up in a household of equity and equality.
“They are products of their environment so it is a conversation that needs to happen in schools.
“That is the only way, through education. Who knows if we will ever be able to stop this, but we need to give it a damn good go.”
Jonsson criticised a tweet from McCall last week, who wrote: “Female abduction/murder is extremely rare.
“Yes we should all be vigilant when out alone. But this level of fear-mongering isn’t healthy. And men’s mental health is an issue as well. Calling all men out as dangerous is bad for our sons, brothers, partners.”
She later added: “To clarify. Any man that’s violent/coercive towards a woman is abhorrent.
“As for victim shaming. I am not. The misinterpretation of my post, by some, has been terrifying.
“Women should feel safe everywhere, all the time. Men should, and many do, help make this idea possible.”
Jonsson said the issue of women’s safety was not an appropriate place to discuss the mental health of men.
She told Lorraine: “First of all, it is not fear mongering, because this is happening. To say that it is rare is also incorrect. We know that domestic abuse is definitely not rare.
“I am sure what she was trying to do was say let’s not forget that this is not all men but I don’t even think that is a conversation that needs to be had because I don’t think anybody has ever said that this is all men.
“Men’s mental health is a separate issue to this. I had some really interesting responses on my Instagram to my post and it wasn’t until I was scrolling down and a couple of them had said they had been gangraped and attacked.
“These were men that were leaving these messages for me and so that was really quite shocking.
“It is men who are fearing men, who aren’t fearing women, I wouldn’t have thought.
“So men’s mental health is a very important issue but I think it is not one that has a place in this conversation.”