I strongly believe in equality. I was recently asked what that means, as ‘equality’ is a big word. I believe in equal opportunities for everyone and think it’s unfair and inhibiting to predict someone’s abilities just by simple characteristics such as gender, sexual orientation and age. I really enjoyed Bear Grylls previous programmes and he seems like a really nice guy. I’m also a big channel 4 fan as a whole, often, they are willing to be controversial and explore society’s taboos. Which is great.
However. There is something about the new programme ‘The Island with Bear Grylls’ which I can’t scrub away… is it sexist? I’ve decided to have a little discussion about why I feel a little bit disappointed by it. The concept is brilliant, can we survive in the wild? In a society which has such an intense dependence on the luxuries of industrialisation and technology. Have human’s lost those survival instincts? Yep, I like this too.
I also feel it’s important to note I do acknowledge and understand the crisis of masculinity and issues that ‘equality’ of the sexes brings when thinking about how men identify themselves. I like to think of myself as a feminist, not because I hate men and think women are the best (this is often a misunderstanding about feminism). But because I believe in equality for all genders.
So.. why don’t I feel comfortable with the show? I guess I think it’s because masculinity (and femininity) are social constructions. Females can be masculine and males can be feminine. Also, most important point of all: you do not have to be masculine to be a man. A ‘real’ man does not have to conform to gender stereotypes. I feel like the programme is not addressing whether human kind are capable of survival, just whether or not men are. Which is therefore reinforcing traditional gender roles and ‘masculinity’. Out of date and unequal roles. Which I personally do not agree with. I feel for it to be a fair experiment, they should do a series of programmes, one with all women and another with a mixed group. If the programme is in place to try and find out how roles have changed and think about the crisis of masculinity. It needs to look at all sides. Surely? I have read reasons people believe that the programme isn’t sexist, I have also noticed a lot of eye rolling at people who try and argue it is. But it’s important to note that any programme which may try and (even subtly) reinforce traditional gender roles, is in dangerous waters.
Of course we can’t always walk one egg shells, it’s interesting to rock the boat. But I think it’s important to look at underlying issues programmes such as The Island raise. It is an entertaining programme and I can’t pretend that I don’t watch or enjoy it. Because I do. I am often debating inside my head whether or not it is actually sexist or whether I’m being over analytical.
Regardless, I felt it was important to write about it.
I’m interested to hear other peoples views on the programme! Is it sexist? Leave a comment!
Catch up on The Island With Bear Grylls (Channel 4) here.
& check out what the Telegraph thinks: