Bear Grylls – he of drinking his own pee and making celebs abseil while crying fame – has been criticised for his new show The Island Of Lost Blokes.
As the title suggests, the programme – to be broadcast on Channel 4 – is an all-male outfit. In other words, brace yourself for another highly-publicised show that doesn’t feature a single woman. Not even a token one, a la [insert any comedy panel show here].
This absence has been criticised, with Discovery Channel presenter Ruth England saying she’s “disappointed” in Channel 4 but “not wholly surprised”.
The show has also been branded sexist – but is it really?
The premise of The Island is that it’s looking at how men live today and is a “study in modern masculinity” – Bear wants to see how they do without their Nivea and George Foreman. So, if that’s the point of the programme, why would it feature female contestants?
As a feminist, I do feel frustrated by the lack of women in broadcasting but also think exploration of masculinity is just as valid as that of femininity. One is as important, complex and relevant as the other.
For example, last year I became obsessed with Amanda de Cadenet’s series The Conversation which outlines its objectives is to “talk about everything women talk about” and speak the “universal language of women”.
It’s unashamedly dedicated to women’s issues, lives and is basically a study in what femininity means now. Although men frequently come up in the discussion, all the interviewees are women. So, by the same standards, is this also sexist programming?
Should Amanda be investigating the universal language of men, as Bear should be investigating modern femininity and how women can survive without home comforts?
Both masculinity and femininity deserve airtime and exploration. In addition, in this day and age it should be acknowledged a man can be feminine in the same way a woman can be masculine, yet shows on the masculine and the feminine tend to avoid this truth. Men are masculine! Women are feminine! End of story!
It’s not forward-thinking and doesn’t represent life now, but are either The Island or The Conversation really sexist for focusing on one gender? I don’t think so.
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