Tag Archives: gender stereotypes

ITVBeing just a little bit patronising

14 Feb

Pink TV

I interrupt this broadcast with important news for all women out there. Are you fed up with watching dull documentaries about history that are just so last season? Bored of that Professor Cox who claims he was once a pop star but never seems to be in any of your issues of Closer? Television can be so tedious can’t it? All too often it goes a little bit above your head and deals with issues that quite frankly aren’t worth busting a nail over. Well fret no longer women of Britain with your tiny brains: ITV is launching a channel just for you.

I often have to check the date to see if it’s April 1st. This was one such occasion. But it turns out that ITV really are tuning into exactly what women want. Men have been trying to figure this out for years and ITV seem to have cracked it once and for all. ITV say ITVBe will focus on entertainment and “reality and non-scripted shows” which are, according to ITV bod Peter Fincham, “very popular with young women and housewives with kids”.  That’ll be the two most vacuous sections of society then Mr Fincham? The latter certainly has plenty of time to put their feet up and consume meaningless drivel. I wouldn’t dare suggest that ITV are having any hand in perpetuating the myth that being a stay-at-home parent is a hobby and not a bloody hard job.

Hold on though. I say stay-at-home ‘parent’ but a stay-at-home dad would obviously be watching ITV4 “which aims to attract a predominantly male audience with its ‘cult’ classics and sports coverage”. ITV4’s Twitter profile describes it as “the channel for real fans”. Men can cope with that little bit more substance. There may be a fine line (certainly in my eyes) between a football pundit and an oranged-up cheeky chappy from TOWIE but men’s brains are clearly capable of better focus (at least for 90 minutes). Leave the shallow and the wishy-washy for the shriveled brains of us poor women.

And then there’s the name of the channel: ITVBe. It wisely implies that women should just be themselves. Really, you don’t have to pretend to enjoy Mastermind anymore. Just relax and stop aiming above your station by trying to absorb any meaningful information – stick with TOWIE. After all, you’re not capable of handling anything deeper than a layer of Shellac. When you can accept that, you will achieve peace with yourself and just BE.

It’s all about balls

5 Jan

Ball pond

I have a dream.  I have a dream that one day no article about women and their careers will need to mention their beauty regime or their wardrobe. Today I clicked on a feature about a well-known woman in the media industry hoping for some nuggets of her wisdom.  Indeed there were some, but I also came away knowing about her shoe preferences and skincare. Granted, in her particular field (fashion magazines) looking good is a sadly unavoidable factor. What bothers me is that in articles about women their appearance so often becomes part of defining their success.  It’s hardly furthering the cause.

It isn’t the details of a person’s personal life encroaching on their professional life that grates. Successful people are created by who they are and not just by what they achieve at work. It is interesting to learn that someone runs 20km to work or spends their spare time writing poetry. These things maketh the (wo)man. What becomes annoying is the unnecessary detail, the detail that doesn’t contribute to an understanding of why an individual has achieved what they have.

I read an article last year about easyJet chief executive Carolyn McCall – only the third female boss of a FTSE-100 company – that I wish I’d saved, so refreshing was its approach. It made me hopeful about the portrayal of women in the media. Not once did it mention her appearance. There was no talk of her home life. She was defined neither by her looks nor by whether she had kids. Other than the startling fact about how few women feature in the FTSE, she was written about neutrally – not as a man or a woman but as a business person. In fact, the treatment that men normally receive.

The piece about Carolyn McCall proved that it can be done – that a woman can be portrayed as simply being damned good at her job with not one ounce of that success being attributed to (or at least mentioned alongside) how she looks. We don’t need to know where she shops, whether she waxes or which member of One Direction she prefers. It may seem remarkable to some, but having balls isn’t just the preserve of men.

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