Some of you may be aware that I am a regular guest on BBC Radio Leicester’s Rupal Rajani’s lunch time show. Rupal is a great radio presenter and has a list of ‘friends of the show’ who drop in periodically to chew the fat on any topical issue Rupal may be interested in at that time.
Today on my visit with Rupal, one of the many things we were discussing is current trend of the BBC to replace more experienced, older female presenters and newsreaders with younger less experienced presenters and newsreaders. The BBC say that their viewers prefer to see younger female presenters over older female presenters and that they, the BBC are leading the way.
The response does not hold water to me. It is unclear where exactly they are leading the way too – a society where women are used and discarded at the certain age? Are we going back to the 18th century? And who are the viewers who have told them that this is what they want? Were their pollsters (if there was a poll) male and under the age of 25? I am yet to speak to a woman who agrees with the BBC on this one.
It seems that these decision makers are living in another world – a parellel universe to the one I am living in. There are few well known facts that would cause many to question the sense of this decision:
- the ever increasing number of younger women beating their way to the door of many a plastic surgeon to remake or remodel themselves. The media is already saying that women need to be prettier, thinner, bustier, etc, etc;
- the high number of teenagers unhappy with their appearance, suffering with bulimia and other eating disorders; made to compare themselves with size minus models in every magazine, newspapter and TV show – a never ending stream of images bombarding our consciousness;
- the large number of talented women of all ages striding ahead in the workplace;
- an aging population, living longer and ever more active and capable than ever before
The media as a whole, I would say, have to take some responsibility for many women feeling uncomfortable or unhappy with themselves, because all they see is younger and younger women presenting shows and older women being unjustly removed from their posts. When the actions of prominent and influential organisations demonstrate that as women get older they will not be valued, getting older could be seen as something people grow to fear and not learn to accept as a part of life. The message being broadcast here afftects the entire population not only females. This teaches men that older women are to be valued less.
The TV has become such an important part of our lifestyles, that it takes for many a prominent place in their lives. There are very few people who do not see it and that are not therefore influenced by its projections and messages.
This is an age old story, which, as I mentioned during the show, reminds me of the day when younger women were employed as ‘Girl Fridays’ or Secretaries only because of their physical attributes and not because of their skills, experience or qualifications. A time I had thought was long past. Employment on the basis of ‘good eye candy’ for the male of the species is certainly not accpetable and is clearly age and gender discrinination.
We know that the media is driven by the need to be punchy, vibrant, colourful, and in some cases to push the boundaries, but if this pattern of decision making is ‘leading the way’, then I suspect that many a licence fee paying female, above the age of 35, may choose to watch programmes by other makers and broadcasters. Is it any suprise that the BBC is constantly having to justify its license fee? I am not happy to pay to watch a broadcaster who is, by it’s decisions, is telling me that the older I get the less important I am. It appears that it is only necessary to cater for the male interest.
Would someone let me know why I’m paying my licence fee again? Oh yes, thanks I forgot for a second. It’s illegal to own a TV without a licence. Nothing to do with the quality of the viewing material, reflecting audience opinion and interest then?!
When I was growing up, I used to hate the fact that I did not see anyone on TV that I could identify with. If this trend by the BBC continues, I may well be saying the same thing when I get older, but for a completely different reason.
More and more women are starting their own businesses because they are tired of being ignored, removed and discriminated against because of their gender. I am sure we can add age to that list as well. If such organisations are prepared to show arbitary discrimination in their public arena, it begs the questions what other sorts of discrimination occurs in the privacy of their offices?
I am sure that my views will not earn me any friends in this arena. I might not get asked back again, but I do think that this trend is not a positive one and needs to be reconsidered. Those of us who find this unacceptable should say so.
In a Country where:
- the average age of the population is 39;
- there are more people of pensionable age than 16 year olds;
- the majority of those of pensionable age are women. Have a look at our census if you don’t believe me.
It is not difficult to imagine then that
- the majority of the viewing public is over 39 years of age;
- are likely to appreciate seeing a reflecton of themselves or at least people of a age they can identify with and relate;
- even in basic terms we can stretch the imagination a little further and think that at the very least half of that populus is female
Humm – do you think that those making this decision might be male?
It is sad to think that women are still having to fight to be heard and to be seen. To remove female presenters and newsreaders just because they are reaching a certain age (not the officially accepted retirement age, I might add), when this same course of action is not being take against male presenters and newsreaders, is in my opinion clearly discrimination. And flies in the face of all of the legislation on anti-discriminatory practices we are supposed to be using in employment in this Country. How are the BBC able to get away with it?
As a licence fee paying adult, yes female and over the age of 35, I would prefer to see equal numbers of male and female presents and newsreaders, and this includes those of all age ranges. Female presenters should not be living in fear of being removed because they are going through what is and has always been a natural human process – getting older.
The days of women being considered chattel to be entirely dependant upon the whim of men has long gone. Women should not be discriminated against in this manner. A well presented, physically fit female is just as attractive no matter what her age.
A grey haired man sitting next to a younger woman does not make him more attractive or more capable at his job. Who is he fooling, certainly not us the viewing public
Do the skills and abilities of a female sudden disappear the moment she reaches 39? But those of a man continue to increase?
I would like to see a lot more equality for all, BBC. More equality BBC, More equality!