Women’s activists are up in arms over a new television show they argue depicts all women as unintelligent. The show’s producer, however, says the show unveils the failure of the Turkish education system in an entertaining way.
The show "Ah be güzelim," which can be roughly translated as "Oh, my lovely," has appeared on private channel atv only twice, but its format has already attracted the ire of women’s groups. In the show, three teams composed of two women each answer questions in advance, with three teams of two men each trying to guess which of the women answered the questions right.
In one episode, one of the women’s teams did not know what a locksmith did, nor did it recognize a baboon. It didn’t know what a solar eclipse was either. When asked to show the southern-most city in the country, one girl picked Cyprus. The women’s teams have to come up with answers to the questions and the ridiculous responses the teams come up with are the show’s source of entertainment. Women's Media Watch Group, or Mediz, which specifically monitors discrimination against woman in the media, said in a statement on June 29 that the show "insults and encourages insulting women. Its format is an attack on women."
Mediz said in its statement that atv had signed the "Ethical Principles of Broadcasting" document on July 3, 2007, in which the second article says "not to broadcast programs that include discrimination, insults or prejudices based on ethnicity, color, language, religion or gender." Mediz also noted that, "The fourth article says the signatory parties will avoid representing women as objects," and called on atv to cancel the show.
Melek Özman, a member of Mediz, told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review that the program is formatted in a way that presents girls who pretend to be foolish beauties.
"The format is constructed in a way that depicts women as stupid. They are probably choosing women who cannot answer the easiest questions and through them they insult all women," she said.
Nevin Öztop, a representative of the Ankara-based LGBT organization Kaos GL, said, "Gender discrimination on television is not a new issue, but it is done so openly that it has become normal." The program was imported by the production firm "Sinevizyon" and adopted from its original format titled "Pretty Smart."
Doğa Sülen, from Sinevizyon, producer of "Ah be güzelim," said they thought they might get some adverse reactions, but added, "There is no need to think like that since we do not have any kind of discrimination in the format and nobody is acting on the show." He said the general response to the show was positive.
Sülen also agreed the girls’ answers were very poor. "It is nothing to do with our show but the problem is our education system. We hold up a mirror to society, unfortunately this is the result." When asked by the Daily News why only women answer the questions, the producer Sülen said they have already filmed two other episodes in which men answer the questions.
Öztop, however, said she did not find this answer satisfactory. "Why does the show’s name only mention women?" During the show, host Hale Caneroğlu and competing men shout, "Oh my lovely," when a female team, picked by men to answer the questions correctly, do not give the right answer. The show will be broadcast on atv throughout the summer. Sülen called on people not to focus on the discrimination issue and just watch the program "since it is only an entertainment show."
Television critics agree that gender-based discrimination should not become a tool for media outlets to boost their ratings. But their views about the mentioned program differ.
Mesut Yar, television critic at daily Posta, said he found the show very discriminatory against woman. "The show falsely presents men as smarter than women." He said he is against the usual defense of the producers of such shows who often base their arguments on this being just entertainment and the real blame must fall on the participants or even society when something goes wrong. Yar said he believes the format of those kinds of shows should be amended. Yüksel Aytuğ, another television critic from Sabah, said competition shows based on gender have been done before in Turkey and attract higher ratings. "It should be rememberedi however, that there are other programs that insult men, such as the one on Kanal D where woman send their husbands to become better husbands," he said.
Posta, Kanal D and the Daily News are member of the Doğan Media Group. Sabah and atv are part of the Atv-Sabah Media Group.