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Feminism: Sex & gender discussions

Sexist telly formats

22 replies

MardyBra · 25/05/2011 18:38

Apologies if this has been done before.

I was just thinking there are a lot of TV programmes where the man is the main host and the woman is the secondary presenter.

Like Countdown. Bloke sits at table to ask questions, and woman wears short skirt to do the sums.

Strictly. Brucie fluffs his lines, while Tess mops up around him.

Even on The One Show, the bloke seems to be first to talk most of the time.

OP posts:
darleneoconnor · 25/05/2011 21:45

very true, this is the template for most programmes, with location, location a possible exception (maybe cos Kirstie is an aristo, which overrides gender?)

this morning
the gadget show
are other examples

watchdog has anne robinson as lead presenter so it's an exception

TheCrackFox · 25/05/2011 21:48

I have found that I watch a lot less TV nowadays.

cokefloat · 25/05/2011 22:20

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MardyBra · 25/05/2011 22:54

Oh yes, those comedy panel shows are dreadful. I read an interview recently where Jenny Eclair said that she had never been invited on things like 'Have I Got New For You'. Why on earth not?

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TheCrackFox · 25/05/2011 23:00

Jenny Eclair would be brilliant on HIGNFY.

BertieBotts · 25/05/2011 23:04

Radio is very male-dominated, too. There are some women presenters, but the majority are male, and if there is a male-female duo, the man is automatically deemed more important, whereas in a male-male duo, sometimes they are of equal status.

I flicked through every station a few weeks ago and couldn't find one breakfast show with a female presenter who wasn't just some kind of sidekick.

MardyBra · 25/05/2011 23:24

So true Bertie. Why is it the women who get to read out the traffic news so often - and simper at the male DJ who is running the show.

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LRDTheFeministDragon · 26/05/2011 19:50

Oh I hate the way panel shows have one token woman - and DH and I sometimes count how long it takes Ian Hislop of HIGFY to make some kind of gender-related remark to the token woman ... don't think I've ever seen him get through the whole show without making a comment.

AyeRobot · 26/05/2011 19:57

Hislop is a strange one because sometimes he points out the glaring sexism that all the rest have missed whilst making an outrageous comment later in the show.

I think it's easier and quicker to point out the non-sexist tv formats in terms of presenting, although by brain has stopped working and I can't think of any. Coast?

Radio is a strange one. 5Live, for example, has some great women presenters and I think breakfast and daytime is well represented by women presenters, although perhaps not often in the approach to issues that affect women and certainly not in the airtime from callers. Then darkness starts to fall and it is Bloke Radio.

LRDTheFeministDragon · 26/05/2011 20:27

Yes, Aye, he does - and he made some pretty scathing comments about the Ken Clarke rape issue. I think he's often very good, it's just annoying that he always seems to feel the need to draw attention to a woman's gender, as if the fact she's there as one panelist is slightly strange.

MoChan · 26/05/2011 22:07

It's so annoying. I really loathe the older-male-presenter/younger-attractive-subordinate-female double act thing that seems to be becoming increasingly common. I think it's even more common in the US, isn't it? Esp. on news networks.

Treats · 27/05/2011 10:47

I always think that I OUGHT to enjoy Radio 4 more than I do - I increasingly prefer speech radio and I like to hear discussions of current affairs and be introduced to topics that I didn't really know about before. But I've found that I simply can't bear any of its 'comedy' shows. I've tried to listen to the News Quiz (hosted by a woman!) and Just a Minute and I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue, but they're all stuffed full of smug, irritating middle-aged and elderly men who trot out the same tired old routine time and again. And the sycophantic studio audience just encourage them. I really can't stand it.

Years ago, before I became the person who really ought to listen to Radio 4, a friend took me to a recording of the News Quiz. It had the late Linda Smith on the panel and I instantly became a fan. She never broke out beyond radio (probably her choice) but she was such a refreshing contrast to the men around her. I wish she were still here.

Threadworm8 · 27/05/2011 10:59

Yes, the one token women thing often ends up being at least as bad as no women at all -- because the woman is cornered into the role of being there as a 'woman defined as woman,' as the divergence from the male default, and all of her humour has to play to this, and all of the men get to rope her in to that dynamic, while they are allowed to be a hundred different things according to what kind of a man they are.

On the rare occasions where you get two or more women things can sometimes change rather a lot. I like the News Quiz on R4 for reasonably-frequently managing that.

HIGNFY is the worst offender. Aged unfunny male kings slumming around without much wit and chipping at the likes of Victoria Coren, whose clear distain does something but not enough to counter their boorishness.

ElephantsAndMiasmas · 27/05/2011 15:54

I think Just a Minute is worse - bloody bloody idiot who presents it always manages to call the token woman (if they've condescended to invite one) "darling" at some point in a really patronising fashion. As in "that'll do, darling".

MardyBra · 27/05/2011 17:00

I was thinking about the programme Hustle.
In that they have a team of 5, with one token woman and one token non-white character.

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Continuum · 27/05/2011 18:58

I always thought it a shame there was only one series of The Bubble, hosted by David Mitchell, out of the three guests I think half the episodes actually had two women. It was hilarious too!

CogitoErgoSometimes · 28/05/2011 08:53

HIGNFY is really the Hislop and Merton show. All the guests, whether they be male or female, tend to take second or third place and are often the butt of the jokes. The politicians crack the odd poor gag which falls flat. The journalists sometimes get a word in edgeways. I don't think it's anti-women, therefore, because all the guests get equally shabby treatment.

Will confess to loving I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue precisely because it's stuffed full with smug, middle-aged men who also happen to be very, very silly. Suprised no-one's mentioned 'the lovely Samantha'... Wink Heard a complaint on the 'Feedback' programme once about how shabbily the poor Samantha gets treated by the Clue team. (Don't think that correspondent got the joke, to be honest)

CogitoErgoSometimes · 28/05/2011 08:57

BTW... the 'Hustle' crew is entirely tokenism so that it has appeal for the international market. One black bloke, one foreigner/old guy, one working class type, one woman and one piece of himbo eye-candy in the shape of Matt Di Angelo. Covers a lot of bases.

Threadworm8 · 28/05/2011 09:19

Yeah but a key thing Cogito is that there is a wide range of male tokens. Being male is compatible with being any one of several stereotypes, whereas being female comes to an end there: you're the woman one and that's that.

CogitoErgoSometimes · 28/05/2011 09:42

I don't think there's just one female stereotype. I'm a big fan of the Spooks series, for example, and they've had a fair old range of female characters in their time. From more traditional 'Emma Peel' type leather-clad action women to the sinister Connie James played by Gemma Jones. Series like Silent Witness and Waking the Dead are other examples. The soaps are jam-packed with weird and wonderful women. The glossier formats, admittedly, will be trading on glamour. But there's lots besides.

Threadworm8 · 28/05/2011 09:47

No, there isn't just one female stereotype of course. But in progs like that, the woman is still there as a woman, not as 'the working class one', 'the geeky one', etc etc.

And of course trashy drama doesn't entirely rely on stereotypes. In the trevor eve cold case thing, I just love the absurd way that the pathologist (Eve?) is one on with technical knowledge about anything. Bodies, computers, trapdoors. If they got a flat tyre, she'd be the one with the carjack. It's hilarious. Don't they have staff?Grin

Sometimes, though, (not in Eve's case I think) the skillfulness and strength of a woman character is just a 'post-sexist' way of saying 'look, we think women are great', while still essentially confining them to the same old role in the drama.

CogitoErgoSometimes · 28/05/2011 11:58

The writers can't win with that kind of logic. If they write parts for women that portray them as strong or skillful they are only doing so in some kind of cynically contrived nod in the direction of feminism. If they include lightweight female roles purely to add glamour they are being sexist.

I enjoyed the short series 'CandyCabs'. A predominantly female cast with Paul Nicholls being the distracting hot totty. :) But, as TV drama tends to be all just so much froth and bubble, I can't take any of it particularly seriously.

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