Men have been using women's bodies as entertainment for all of recorded history.
Women have been made the butt of jokes, the focus of prying eyes, and the scheme to get rich for thousands of years. The age of technology, while doing a lot of good for equality between the sexes, has also provided sexists with new channels, literally. Feminists still have a lot of work to do, and the new Dutch celebrity TV game show "Neem Je Zwemspullen Mee" (which translates to "Bring Your Bathing Suit") is a perfect example of why.
The first episode of the series aired on Sunday on the Dutch public broadcasting channel NPO 3 and featured some deeply problematic content choices. The show included a game in which the whole point was for a woman to stand in front of teams of men and have them assess if she was fat or pregnant.
Nieuw programma op NPO3. Hier moeten vier mannen raden of deze vrouw dik of zwanger is. Leuk. Echt leuk. pic.twitter.com/jobyo8bqlT— Lisa Bouyeure (@lisabouyeure) April 10, 2017
- Translation: "New program on NPO 3. Here four men have to guess if this woman is fat or pregnant. Fun. Really fun."
For everyone thinking The Netherlands is great. We reached a new low yesterday night. National TV game show: "is she pregnant or just fat?" pic.twitter.com/HlNiBGYeJ4— Tandpasta (@TandpastaCB) April 10, 2017
Another game in the episode featured women standing before male panelists so they could ogle their breasts and decide if they were real or fake.
In a testament to how far humanity has come, none of this went over well with many in the Netherlands. Angry citizens took advantage of social media to express and spread their outrage over the fact that these sexist games had passed muster and secured a place on public broadcasting:
- Translation: "'Are they real?' 'Is she fat or pregnant?' New tasteful show of public service broadcasting. #npo3 #njzm"
Er is nu een programma op NPO3 waarin mannen moeten raden of een vrouw dik of zwanger is #vanmijnbelastingcenten— Daphne Lammers (@DaphneLammers) April 9, 2017
- Translation: "There is now a program at NPO3 in which men have to guess if a woman is fat or pregnant. #usingmytaxcents"
Not getting the message, POW!, another production company that works with NPO 3, jumped on the sexist train and decided to re-work the "Fat or Pregnant" idea as a man-on-the-street segment.
Kro-Ncrv, the production company behind Neem Je Zwemspullen Mee, has tried to justify the show in a statement, insisting that the games were intended to show "how you can go wrong if someone evaluates his or her appearance."
According to the statement, the show was developed by 3Lab, described by Kro-Ncrv as "the place at NPO 3 where young artists can experiment with programs for young audiences." The statement also cited the pilot episode that aired last year and contained a segment in which panelists tried to guess if a guest was Chinese or Japanese.
"In this round, there are different prejudices like: is he a criminal or business man? Is he Dutch or German, etc.," explained the company. "Through these different satirical settings, we laugh off all forms of prejudice."
Placing women under the scrutinizing gaze of men is not original, nor is racism; it's something women and those of non-European descent across the globe already deal with every day. 3Lab just put the hard realities of millions on a TV show, called it "satire," and tried to sell it as educational — it was, but certainly not in the way they intended.
Kro-Ncrv needs to consider some new hires because there are millions of creative people who would be happy to cast a light on prejudice without exploiting the bodies and dignity of others.
Banner/Thumbnail Photo Credit: Flickr user Adam Jones