Feminist Philosophers

News feminist philosophers can use

Two women in the UK media… February 24, 2009

Filed under: bias,disability,gender — stoat @ 10:41 pm

First up, Cerie Burnell, a presenter of a children’s TV programme.  The good news: high profile and aspirational woman with disability being broadcast into children’s living rooms. A positive move for inclusive attitudes! The bad news: complaints have been lodged, by parents, who worry that the fact she only has one hand might give their children nightmares. Sigh. Hopefully her presence on the small screens of the UK’s households will help towards avoiding these kinds of attitudes in future…

Second, Gail Trimble, top contestant on university challenge. The good news: awesomely intelligent aspirational woman being broadcast into the nation’s living rooms.  The bad news: Amongst the comments about her, we find things like ‘the female Stephen Fry’ and ‘ tasty trimble’. She notes: ‘I don’t feel I would have been treated the same way were I a man.’ …


9 Responses to “Two women in the UK media…”

  1. Jender Says:

    Thanks for letting me know about these, Stoat. Yes, both very impressive!! Though now perhaps I am betraying my foreignness: I don’t get the negativity of the Stephen Fry comment– I thought everyone loved him. I was pleased to see that the article about the children’s presenter took the line that biased parents were projecting their negative attitudes onto their children, rather than endorsing the worries.

  2. Monkey Says:

    I think the negativity of the Stephen Fry comment might just be that rather than being presented as having an identity of her own, she’s presented as being a female version of Stephen Fry? So the fact that Stephen Fry is a lovely chap liked by many is neither here nor there?

    Stoat – that top story is pretty jawdropping! Better keep the freaks out of sight in case they scare the children. Huh??!

  3. stoat Says:

    Hello Jender and Monkey.
    Yep the worry re Stephen Fry was as Monkey has it. The sentiment seems to be: ‘She’s just like him (but a woman, but that’s ok)’! Also, can you imagine a male maths whizz being described as ‘the male Carol Vorderman’? Maybe its cynicism on my part, but I can’t…

    On the other story: I agree the tone of the BBC article is pleasing. But did you find something a bit off with the title ‘How do you explain a missing hand’? The suggestion being ‘if all was normal/well, it’d be there’. Rather than just – ‘some people don’t have hands (or other parts). Get over it’.

  4. stoat Says:

    (of course, with that last ‘get over it’ comment I don’t mean to suggest that we should just carry on regardless and not try to do anything to make sure that things are set up so not having some body part isn’t a disadvantage).

  5. extendedlp Says:

    fyi my two-year-old has watched cerie burnell on cbeebies and didn’t seem to take it in at all that there was anything different about her. but he did seem to like her singing. i was actually surprised he didn’t ask about her hand (tho why should i be? he’s innumerate!), but i wouldn’t have worried for a moment about him being scared, just curious.

    one little thing bugs me a bit: they’ve replaced the one non-white presenter–poi, an asian woman–with cerie. it feels a bit creepy, trading out the asian woman for the disabled woman. reminds me of an explanation i heard once for why someone didn’t like balamory: they were bothered by the fact that the one nonwhite woman (at the time; this has changed now) was also in a wheelchair; as if they could only bear to have one “special” character. i think bbc has issues with disability. i think they try. but i think they have issues.

  6. Cpt. Darling Says:

    The “female Stephen Fry” might be relatively innocuous. Stephen Fry, a wonderfully smart and funny comedian, novelist, host of QI, etc. who also happens to be gay, is the only really famous person to have competed in University Challenge. So Ms. Trimble’s new found celebrity might make the comparison apt. I could, of course, do without the ‘tasty Trimble’ nonsense or that finding Ms. Trimble sexy must be explained in terms of some decidedly alien attraction (her brain…shudder). I do, however, love the “brushable hair” bit. That rocked.

  7. fred Says:

    Stoat, I think that “get over it” is just the right attitude, especially early. On the face of it, it’s just right, I mean, what’s the big deal about it? And even though children can be cruel, their ability to just accept what “grown-ups” reject as freaky should not be “misunderestimated”. I think if we could just stop imposing our views of what’s normal on kids, many social problems would die with us.

  8. stoat Says:

    Fortunately, much of the media agrees with the ‘get over it’ sentiments, Fred. Here’s what the excellent Lucy Mangan has to say:

  9. BrevisMus Says:

    One of my frustrations with the Stephen Fry comment – as well as the fact that Gail Trimble can only be described in male terms – is that he is currently most famous for being the know-all on QI. Where he has a team of researchers, cue cards and, I believe, a little prompt screen set into his desk for off-the-cuff factoids. Gail Trimble had all her factoids in her brain.

    (plus, the media appear to be ignoring the key part of Trimble’s skill on UC – her timing. Whilst she clearly has an impressive knowledge and recall of facts (& I’m chuffed she’s a fellow Classicist), being able to interrupt Paxman & guess the answer without hearing the full question is the important thing on UC. Most contestants on UC would know the answers as well; Trimble’s skill was getting in first. Although I can see that as being spun as being even more uppity. Le sigh)

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