Simon Collins is the Herald’s social issues reporter.

'Gutted' Louise Nicholas says Paul Henry needs more education about sexist behaviour

Survivor advocate Louise Nicholas was "gutted" by Paul Henry's latest comments about women and has offered to sit down with him to teach him more about sexism. Photo / File
Survivor advocate Louise Nicholas was "gutted" by Paul Henry's latest comments about women and has offered to sit down with him to teach him more about sexism. Photo / File

Survivor advocate Louise Nicholas says she was "gutted" by Paul Henry's latest comments about women and would be happy to give him some "education" about sexism.

She said the TV3 breakfast host's comments to Herald writer Greg Bruce about the "perfect titties" of a woman at a nearby table during an interview for Canvas magazine were "disgusting".

"I've done a number of interviews with Paul Henry around sexual violence and he's been extremely good and knowledgeable, and that's why it's so disappointing that he has gone so far as to say that about women," Nicholas said.

She did not agree with commentator Brian Edwards that the Canvas interview should be "career-ending" for Henry, but she said he clearly needed more education.

"I don't think that [ending his career] is necessary, to be honest, but maybe a sit-down with Paul about how harm doesn't need to be physical, but verbal harm is just as traumatic.

"Those sorts of things can be just as harmful. I was gutted."

She rejected Henry's defence, in a statement last night, that the woman he was commenting on would not have heard the conversation.

"How would he have liked being in a restaurant and hearing someone saying that about his mother or one of his female family members?" she asked.

She said it was up to all men not to tolerate sexist comments.

"We've all done it, male and female, especially around homophobic responses and things like that, but I guess when it comes to high-profile people like Paul in a public place saying what he said, it's disgusting," she said.

"He doesn't need to lose his job over it, but maybe a little bit more education around the harm it causes.

"I'll be happy to sit down with Paul any time. At the end of the day it comes down to him. He agrees it was dumb, he shouldn't have said it. It's now for him as a man in the status he's in to actually stand up and do the right thing."

Jane Drumm, chief executive of victim support agency Shine, said she felt sorry that Henry, 56, still harboured such attitudes to women,

"I feel really sorry for Paul that he has got to his age and he's so angry and so flippant about other people and because that just means that he's such a lonely person," she said.

"There is unfortunately a group of men who push women down to just sexual playthings and objects, and we don't need that."

She said Henry's comments about other people in the interview showed that he had a sense of "superiority" which was at the root of violence against women.

"I'm not at all suggesting that Paul Henry physically in any way abuses women, other than how he is expressing that fairly nasty comment, but there is a whole culture that allows that in society and we don't need it," she said.

- NZ Herald

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