For nearly two decades, KABZ-FM 103.7 in Little Rock, Arkansas, has run what they've quite simply labeled as the "Babe Bracket."
The concept, an outdated one to say the least, plucks various female reporters and news anchors from the area and places them in a bracket that listeners then vote on based purely off of the women's looks alone.
Demeaning, uncomfortable, and belittling, the bizarre brackets happen once a year, and some listeners are finally demanding that the previous year's contest be its last.
I love my boys at the @1037TheBuzz but I’m 100% with my guy @AustinKellerman on this one. It would nice not to have my colleagues and friends voted on as if it were like which piece of meat looks better. Don’t make it a pride thing buzz friends. Just LET IT GO! #Elsa https://t.co/esZr42Kr0a— D.J. Williams (@dj45williams) February 1, 2018
I can’t believe this is even a thing anymore, but sadly, it is. Thanks for sharing AK! https://t.co/itq6MCKrZz— Jessica Reyes (@jessicamreyes) February 1, 2018
Thanks, Austin. I don’t live in AR but as a female meteorologist in FL, I appreciate your stand. https://t.co/zPQVqVStZY— Amy Sweezey (@amysweezey) February 1, 2018
I don't live in Little Rock anymore, but this bothered me ENDLESSLY when I was in Arkansas. Management once tried to pressure a coworker to participate. Absolutely gross. https://t.co/Z8AsQPHrIH— Emily Van Zandt (@vanzandt) February 1, 2018
Austin Kellerman, a local TV news director, has stepped forward to write a blog on the contest, expressing his frustration and calling for its retirement.
Having a male bracket doesn't make it ok to have a female bracket. Dated concept. https://t.co/QgGl8kqovA— Austin Kellerman (@AustinKellerman) February 1, 2018
"The days of referring to educated women who serve as role models to our children as 'babes' are over. It's time to evolve with the times," Kellerman wrote. "These women deserve to be celebrated — just not like this."
Kellerman also went on the show to debate the controversial contest with its hosts, pointing out that plenty of the women thrown into the contest most likely did not want to participate and never gave their consent to having their name and image used in the first place.
I'm thinking about making a bracket of all these men on Twitter that don't understand why women do not want to be publicly scored on only their looks without their consent. It is only fair that we judge and critique your looks as well... https://t.co/ruCdE7wPOs— Megan Tollett (@MeganTollett) February 1, 2018
The show's program director, Justin Acri, has also joined in on the discussion, claiming that the show constantly evaluates content and the "Babe Bracket" is not excluded from that evaluation.
"Even before the consternation from our friends and station fans and KARK-TV, Tommy Smith [the co-host who started the bracket] was weighing his options of continuing with it this year or replacing it with another bracket idea," Acri claimed.
While Acri has not yet made it clear whether the show will continue with the bracket or not, the problems the contest presents are indefensible.
To put it plainly, a contest based purely on a woman's attractiveness has absolutely no place in 2018.
I am all for having fun and goofing off, but you also need to do it with taste...this is simply poor taste & I agree - it's time for it to end. We're in 2018 people...we can still have a sense of humor, but we also need to move past the blatant objectification of women...and men.— Josh White (@jjwhitetv) February 1, 2018
Women chosen for the bracket have received an education, studied, interned, and worked hard to thrive in an industry already rife with harassment. The "Babe Bracket" completely undermines those accomplishments by disregarding their intelligence, background, and every other aspect of their being by linking their success to how attractive the public perceives them to be.
Reducing a professional woman to her looks and then ranking her value based on that, not only is objectifying and, quite frankly, disgusting, it promotes the already harmful ideology that women exist to please men and that a woman's greatest value is her appearance.
Furthermore, pitting woman against woman in a contest on their appearance only adds on to the ridiculous concept that women need to compete with one other for attention and validation.
It's tired, out of touch, and just point-blank tone deaf.
"What was acceptable in the 80s or 90s, isn't the norm anymore. In that regard, society has evolved for the better. It's time for everyone else to come along for the ride," Kellerman said. "... Female journalists have come a long way over the last few decades, but there's still a way to go. Let's do everything we can to help support them."
If the radio station had any integrity whatsoever, they would follow Kellerman's advice and remove the "Babe Bracket," leaving it in the past where it belongs.
Banner / Thumbnail : Reuters, Tobin Jones