Look, I\x92m sorry, but I feel *compelled* to talk about Big Brother

// 1 July 2005

Another week, another eviction. Maxwell and Saskia are up, and you just know that Saskia\x92s going to be for the chop. But why is it that when a woman comes up against a man in a Friday night vote, she\x92s virtually guaranteed to lose? BB enthusiasts, in a little corner of internet/reality TV geekdom* have been debating that question today, and have come out with a bunch of fascinating views on how gender politics plays out on the reality TV stage.

There\x92s a lot of debate about whether or not Saskia actually deserves to win \x96 a lot of opinions along the lines of \x91this isn\x92t a boy/girl thing, it\x92s just that Saskia\x92s hateful\x92. But underneath all the \x91SASKIA IS A SLUT! LOL! ANTHONY TO WIN :) :) :)\x92 rubbish there\x92s a string of fascinating debate about why, indeed, we hate Saskia so much.

Suggestions from the board are that women are labelled \x91manipulative\x92 (Saskia) whilst men \x91have a gameplan\x92 (Victor BB5). Or that, in the black and white world of reality TV, a female engaging in sexual activity is a slapper (Saskia), whilst one who doesn\x92t put out is a pricktease (Saskia again, poor love) \x96 but men are quickly forgiven either way.

But even if we are to accept that this particular eviction battle is all about the personalities and nothing about the gender politics, someone else rightly poses the question – why is it that women are virtually guaranteed to lose against men? In six series of BB, and another three of Celebrity BB, where a woman and a man have been pitted against each other in an eviction battle the woman has prevailed on just four occasions.

In response to this question, \x91Glenshane\x92 says it\x92s down to a combination of five factors \x96 i) the type of women the producers pick, ii) the type of women likely to apply, iii) the type of people who cast a vote, iv) that the women in BB are poor game players (is this as a result of i and ii, or just a natural failing of women?!) and, finally, v) that women don\x92t play to win.

It\x92s possible that all five of these explanations contain a grain of truth, but, with the exception of iii), the blame is firmly on either the women as individuals, or the characteristics of women in general. If a certain type of woman tends to apply, doesn\x92t the same type of man apply? So it must be more about the selection process than the applicants otherwise all the men and women would be of this \x91type\x92 and be winning votes 50:50. It seems to me that the producers must wilfully be picking the type of woman that the public don\x92t want to see win. I\x92m sure it makes great telly – I\x92m just not at all sure whether this says more about the producers or the public.

It\x92s a strange combination of the limitations of the range of female characters and the polarised way in which we react to them. There were quirky characters of both sexes this year – Mary the witch was odd and immediately booted out, yet Kemal gets to be flamboyant. Rather than being assertive, Saskia\x92s a bitch – but Maxwell is a chirpy cockney geezer (instead of a borderline racist, gobby hot-head), and Derek gets to be eccentric and entertaining (rather than patronising, snobbish and hypocritical).

Surely, then, the most fascinating thing about the Big Brother house is not personalities of the housemates busy fighting or fucking inside it, but the way in which the outside world responds to them? So I\x92ll be voting Max later, if only to try and redress the balance, but I bet y\x92all that at 10.05 I\x92ll be watching Saskia being booed all the way to the TV studio.

(thanks to Alastair for drawing this to my attention!)

*yes, yes, maybe I\x92m at home there!

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