The Apprentice Final: Rampant Sexism

by Chelsea Blacker on 18/07/2013

I don’t usually use my energy to highlight sexism, as I feel it’s best to push forward and ignore negative commentary. Plus, the unfortunate truth is that dwelling on what I may find sexists means I risk encouraging stereotypes of appearing overly emotional and nagging;  I prefer to just get on with it.

But… I cannot let the Apprentice final last night go without a word or two.  The Guardian had a piece highlighting the female finalists were both proposing businesses that highlighted female stereotypes. This I can live with – if they want to focus on botox and baking business plans, it’s okay by me.

What is not okay, is the commentary by the after-show hosts.  The fat bald guy (technically a comedian?) repeatedly told Luisa  Zissman the “business barbie” (her own words – so perhaps the hole has already been dug) she looked great.   Luisa, who was regularly told she was too strong and commanding, broke down in tears after she screwed up her final business pitch (everyone told her she did great – but she did totally screw it up and obviously knew it) and the hosts rewarded this behaviour as showing her vulnerable side and making her more likeable. I’d like to see a man break down and cry in The Apprentice, see what they make of that; I doubt he’d be praised for messing up his pitch.

There were also compliments to another contestant who did a brief dance performance in the final episode, but otherwise had little to do with the finalists being interviewed on stage.  Entirely wrong focus.

And lastly, the comment from the show’s host (either bald dude again or the dad from Outnumbered) about winner Leah Totton, which painted a general brush over all Irish woman from Derry as being “a fierce type of woman.”  I’m sorry, but WTF?  Firstly, I highly doubt anybody from a place sharing the same name as the foods group encompassing brie and butter could be fierce in any way. More importantly – IT  ISN’T RELEVANT.  Saying a contestant must be fierce because of her home town makes the women of Dairy seem like a savage tribe of Amazons, and draws on concepts made out of this air.

Either way, it’s great Leah won.  I just wish the BBC hosts spoke to the women contestants as they would do the male contestants.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Iain July 18, 2013 at 14:15

Surely it’s women from Derry he was talking about? And a similar comment was made about her father. Both were emphasising stereotypes for comic effect (presumably as Dara O’Briain is Irish himself, he felt safe making the remarks, as though there was an element of self-deprecation involved). Dangerous ground, of course.

The whole show did seem very superficial though, which obviously leads to sweeping statements, generalisations and lack of nuance. I can see why that might cause it to be seen as (or, indeed, be) somewhat discriminatory.


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