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Day: September 28, 2011

The Mock The Week lack of women feminist debate – my 2p worth…

Last week it all kicked off on twitter when some people said that there were not enough women on the Mock The Week panel. The show discussed it via their twitter feed but decided to draw a line underneath the debate. A blogger wasn’t happy and put together a blog entitled Mock the Week Mock the Women which she posted yesterday. She describes herself as a feminist and as an active member of the Bristol feminist network so that is her words not mine so don’t say I’m feminist bashing before you’ve read my 2p worth…

Jo Brand commented two and a half years ago the following (from The Guardian:

Women don’t want to go on panel shows for six reasons. 1) They won’t get a word in edgeways. 2) They may be edited to look stupid. 3) They may get the piss taken out of them. 4) They may not be funny. 5) They don’t like competing for airtime. 6) They may be patronised, marginalised or dismissed.”

Well let’s look at them one-by-one.

1) They won’t get a word in edgeways – That is a fair point as even Frankie Boyle has complained about this. So I can’t disagree.

2) They may be edited to look stupid – Well so can anyone. They have edited the show to make all the comedians look stupid from time to time. Can’t really agree on this one.

3) They may get the piss taken out of them – Er…yes. Have you not seen TV panel shows? When Lee Mack takes the pee out of the very notion of David Mitchell going into Argos is that unfair? So I can’t agree on this one either.

4) They may not be funny – Then why are they in stand-up comedy in the first place?

5) They don’t like competing for airtime – That is an issue but that is the nature of the beast.

6) They may be patronised, marginalised or dismissed – Yep but so can male comedians if they don’t bring a lot to the show. Are producers under duress to ensure everyone gets the same amount of air time whether they are funny or not?

Look Mock The Week is pretty tired these days and I never watch when it’s on although I often will stick in on iPlayer whilst working at some point during the week. There are good female stand-up acts around and some of them should be on the show but should they be invited on to the show just to fill a quota or do they want to make it because they are deemed good enough to be booked for what is still a prime gig to get some exposure?

Looking through the list of women who have been on the show and some of them just aren’t very good. Saying that a lot of the men weren’t very good either. Would I want to see more of Gina Yashere or Lauren Laverne on Mock The Week? No. No I wouldn’t. Would I want to see more Sarah Milligan or Lucy Porter? Yes I would.

Further on in the blog linked at the top of this piece the author writes, ‘But us feminists – we’re not done. Because contrary to Mock the Week’s dismissal, this issue matters. It touches on big issues of cultural silencing of women’s voices, sexism and misogynistic assumptions about women and men.

And this is what pisses me off the most. They say it matters but do they mention anything when you see that the % of women on the show is more than the % of comedians from ethnic backgrounds. So make a huge stink about lack of women but they don’t even mention the fact that comedians from ethnic backgrounds are represented even less.

I don’t see Mock The Week (or the BBC) as a closed shop. I think it is fair to say more people have heard of comedians like Ed Byrne or Stewart Francis or Milton Jones. Is the BBC meant to put together the most popular show for the license fee payers or is it there solely to give everyone a fair crack of the whip? Should they have quotas they need to fill on Mock The Week and other shows? Should 10% of all TV presenters be ginger for example?

Women can be just as funny as men. We all know this. However in reality on the stand-up circuit there are 249 listed on the comedian site Chortle who are female of the 1,380 listed, which means that 18% of the comedians listed have their reproductive organs on the inside of their body instead of the outside. The percentage of guest panelists on MTW who are female is 13% so it isn’t a huge disparity compared to how many are active on the circuit.

I don’t see this as a big issue facing women in this day and age but clearly I’m wrong…

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Rory Weal isn’t as close to the bread line as he (and Labour) made him out to be…

Some may have seen the heralded new star of Labour speaking on Monday. 16 year-old Rory Weal comes from a broken home, the house he grew up in was repossessed and it was only thanks to the welfare state that he wasn’t on the street knifing people with guns in gangs. I may have used some poetic license there but basically his family run out of cash and thanks to the welfare state they weren’t on the street.

However today the Daily Mail did a bit of an exposé on the kid and whilst he clearly had help from the welfare state in times of trouble he’s not exactly as bad off as he made out.

His dad was a millionaire and he grew up in a house worth over a million pounds. His dad lost the lot and his parents split up. He was pulled out of his posh private school because they couldn’t afford it any more. Luckily he got accepted to a grammar school, which Labour are actually opposed to but obviously that is only ideologically and when push comes to shove parents and students believe that they’ll probably get a better education there than they would at a local comprehensive so ideology out the window when it’s so close to home.

He now lives in a nice house in the suburbs with his mum and eight year-old sister. Not exactly on the bread line. Look I know the welfare state is for all – even the upper and middle classes if they fall on bad times. That is one of the great things about the welfare state that it is there for all as and when they ever need it. My problem is he made himself out to be someone that he wasn’t. He made himself out to be someone on the very bottom rung of society financially but he wasn’t. If he is the face of the welfare state then I think it is fair to say that it is false advertising.

Surely Labour would have done their background checks and known all this but you’d guess they didn’t otherwise they would never have let him speak. I just saw a tweet as I was typing this from @_gaylussite saying, ‘Rory Weal owes far more to free market capitalism and Baroness Thatcher than he does to Labour and the welfare state.’ and that is true. He got the start in life due to his dads business and the free market. Does he not think that is more important than a bit of help when he skirted near bad waters?

I know personally how the welfare state can essentially keep a roof over a families head. I have been there myself. So I will never knock the welfare state but really is this young man the right face for Labour to hang their hat on with regards to the welfare state? I’d say no and this has turned out to be a very bad move by the party.

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