Sunday, September 27, 2009


The esteemed BBC TV has been openly accused of being ageist on a number of occasions.  This policy, which is what it appears to be, plays one way, and that is to remove any woman who shows signs of a wrinkle, naturally changed hair colour  or the merest sag in the jaw line.  There are any number of men over a certain age, which seems to be arbitrarily about 50 years old. Why is this?  Do men wear any differently; is their screen image enhanced by growing into old age any differently from women?

If women can no longer be publicly presented as sugar babes, dolly birds and sex objects that support the ratings, (this includes news-readers), women get unceremoniously 'dumped'.  There was public protest at the disappearance of some well-liked personalities. We, the public, who pay license fees, and have a fair sprinkling of over 50's amongst us,  did not want them to disappear,  but the arrogant organisation, decided it knew better.  The clearance of the older female from public view, continued.

Recent resistance  by some attractive and mature television presenters has highlighted the apparently sexist nature of the BBC's employment policy.  The outome is that one very well known mature lady is now advising in the background as to how this gender fissure should be repaired.  The first step is to advertise that the BBC are seeking a mature lady presenter.  As a number of ladies who were really good at their jobs have been sidelined  in recent years, there shouldn't be a major problem finding the talent.  The big problem, as I see it, is enticing any of them to return to perform the figurehead role.

It would be interesting to see, where the BBC is pressured to lead, if tomorrow, Hollywood will follow!


TG said...

Excellent points...

But do people really watch BBC so much?

ZACL said...

It seems so, MKL it is after all meant to be one of our 'national treasures' and to be fair, it does have an international reputation, which is not too bad.

I don't watch a great lot of TV, even so, I have got favoured news presenters and there are others who I see do the job well, both male and female.

Vincent said...

I know nothing about BBC TV apart from its film dramas which I get years later on rented DVD, but I do cherish certain sex-objects on the radio. For years (starting in 1984) it was Charlotte Green. There are not many signs of wrinkles in her voice but my affections have now been somewhat transferred to Bridget Kendall. It's not an age thing, though. I love hearing Katharine Whitehorn on BBC (guest not staff), and she's 81. So there!

Admittedly sexist, ageist, racist (very biased towards blacks) and incorrect, but yours truly - Vincent

ZACL said...

Hi Vincent,

Charlotte Green's mellifluous tones are superb and her laugh is infectious. Ms Kendall has a certain timbre, I agree. I heard Ms Whitehorn recently, her voice has matured with her years. Her breath control remains good.

Tell me, who is black amongst those three. I have never seen Charlotte. (?)

Moira Stuart/stewart, I(can't remember how it was spelt but they both sound the same) was and is a firm favourite of mine, and I for one, would vote her back. She was very good at her job, both on sound radio and TV. I am not familiar with the current TV lot as I don't watch the small screen much.

zewt said...

sexist policy does not only happen in places like BBC, it is also very rampant in the banking industry, or any other sales driven business for that matter.

it is an undeniable fact that a pretty face sells, and a pretty face appearing on screen is much more pleasant compared to a... not so pretty one. not that i am saying it should be done that way, just that we all live in a real world and ... well, the real world sucks.

Vincent said...

I beg your pardon, ZACL, my "racism" has nothing to do with preferences for voices on the radio. And is not really racism at all, needless to say. Zewt is right of course, in acknowledging that we have preferences, but to say that "the real world sucks" is to be condemned forever to swim against the tide of Nature.

I listened with interest (again on the radio) to a programme about a fashion designer Betty Jackson, who had a leg amputated at the aged of six, and subsequently a road accident which makes it difficult for her to walk at all. You'd think she would be in favour of fashion models with disabilities or even larger sizes. But not a bit of it! She's hard-headed enough to recognize that the fashion industry is business not some kind of egalitarian idealism; and that fashion models are not supposed to resemble the man or woman in the street.

ZACL said...

Hello Zewt,

Agreed, there are many walks of life in which sexism is rampant. We euphemistically describe much of it as a 'glass ceiling'. A very opaque one I think! What do these organisations fear?

In the case of media, do they think that they won't get viewing ratings if the newsreaders don't represent all walks of life? You have to look at who is managing the decisions and their personal preferences. Not that they would admit to anything being a personal preference, they would not dare.

Business, on the other hand, has little to fear from the mature woman, who is probably good at her job and brings a range of qualities to it. The issues there become those of equality of prospects in position and pay.

Some French companies were quite openly sexist, (you may call it pragmatic depending which view you take) many decades ago, when various family-friendly regulations were passed. An employer quite frankly stated to a friend of mine, that the company would be interested in her professional qualifications and skills, but AFTER she had produced her family.

There are many anthropological and sociological issues tangled up in all of the spheres of global sexual politics

Hi Vincent,

I think you will see, I have covered some of the issues with my reply to Zewt, in particular your reference to 'nature'

Yes, I heard Betty Jackson. Hard-headed in business she may be, but even she has taken her eye of the wider society. She is now in a position, and has been for a long time, to be more inclusive. There are a huge number of handicapped and disabled people out in the public domain who would like to be catered for. The numbers are increasing. There are ways and means of doing so and and ways of presenting it. As an artist/designer, Betty Jackson ought to have the innate imagination and ability to provide something decent.

I think her exclusion of the disabled has more than a hard-headed business factor, now. I would doubt the total veracity of that claim.

The BBC, on the other hand, has undertaken some awareness-raising around the issues of certain disabilities,in their dramas, some autism being an example.

As far as I am aware, no disabled person fronted up a news programme, and prior to one of their own being severely injured, we did not see anyone reporting or analysing, using a zimmer frame, or walking sticks for support, or sitting in a wheel chair for round
table discussions.

I hear that Trevor Macdonald, (there's another good Scottish name) on ITV is doing the 10pm news regularly; brought back, am I right? That's one older male brought back some time ago, before this current debate, (just to add to the nature of the discussion).

So, back to sexism, having discussed associated but not dissimilarly considered matters. If the BBC have to be shamed into framing some of their media around a large proportion of their licence payers, as a society we have to consider what we are prepared to tolerate, as opposed to what the media tell us we shall and in their eyes, do tolerate. It is time the public rose in one voice and told the media we have been manipulated too much, that we have not given them the right to tell us how we should think.

Vincent said...

If you say that an artist "ought to have the innate imagination and ability to provide something decent [in catering for the fashion needs of handicapped and disabled people, for example] that sounds Stalinist to me; putting conscious activism before unconscious soul. Betty Jackson feels no need to make herself be interested in something she is not interested in. There is space in the market for someone to do that, and perhaps to use disabled models.

Art is inner. It hits the soul not necessarily through the mind.

In the matter of disability it is so easy to be patronising; to use positive discrimination for example instead of insisting on highest standards.

Some might judge that you don't have to be young and good-looking to be a presenter. Others might judge otherwise.

ZACL said...

There's nothing Stalinist about exercising broader, deeper and wider imagination. Those features are a total antithesis of Stalin's social manipulations.

The way you suggest B Jackson thinks, is totally rejectionist to the point of myopia to reality. She's missing a marketing trick. The facts are that disabled people will require different arrangements, be it in furnishing their homes or their dressing needs. Someone like her can advise, and the fruits of that advising can be demonstrated, elsewhere if she is too disturbed by the thought of doing it herself. Where has originality and dynamism of thought disappeared to.........

Any artist who is in the hard-headed business of the market, will be combining activism with the inner soul to be seen and heard. They become inextricably intertwined.

Vincent said...

I can imagine the commissars asking a Soviet artist to exercise broader, deeper and wider imagination. "This is nothing like the social manipulation you think it is! Why, it will be in your own interest, my dear Betty Jackovna. Abandon your bourgeois notions of artistic integrity, and the childish view that your inner soul must follow its own inclinations, free of state-sponsored activism."

But no good will come of fighting you, dear ZACL. We are so far apart.

ZACL said...

It was your interpretation of B Jackson interview, not mine.


Vincent said...

Wot are you saying? Am I fighting myself too? That does happen also.

ZACL said...

I do wish there were some proper graphic emoticons on this site; I find 'lol' a bit muted and :)) doesn't do much either.


zewt said...

with reference to media, i think i was specifically referring to newscaster. what's pleasant for the eyes will somehow, be pleasant to the ears too... i think.

as for the french companies, they will only be interested in the woman after she has started a family? wow... that's really very family friendly. but i bet it's not airline business, they restrict ppl from getting pregnant here.

ZACL said...

Hello Zewt,

Not all news is pleasant, unless there is a high level of suppression in news casting, of what is happening in the world.

Can a pretty face (male or female) neutralise unhappy and nasty news...should they? I don't think the media in most cases, want to mute the headlines that give them a public following. It would be counter-productive to their business. News presentation should be given professionally, yes, but not, I think, exclusively by a sex object of a particular age.

There are some countries where women are not allowed in the workplace, choices would be made by the media operation with the desires of the codes of the State.

In other countries where, what we would call restrictive practices prevail, women who do work, are only allowed limited types of employment, and if in the public eye, like on TV they have to adhere to a dress code that is dictated by others. They may be quite happy with that.

In Europe, preventing women from getting pregnant would be a case to be heard in the courts of justice. Some employers have created difficulties with ante-natal care and maternity leave; some women who experienced this, eventually sought help and took their cases to court.

There are more mature airline stewards and stewardesses seen than there used to be. I have also had a great flight with an older transexual steward, who had a terrific sense of humour. The steward knew more about the product I wanted to buy on board, than any other member of staff.