They spread the game: television contests only have a male face

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No program in which the intellect competes in general culture has had a woman at the helm for nearly two decades, reinforcing a stereotype of male knowledge authority

The television hours of the national networks are full of intellectual contests. In a quick zapping, ‘Pasapalabra’, ‘All against 1’, ‘The Joker’, ’25 Words’, ‘Know and Win’, ‘The Wheel of Luck’, ‘Chain Reaction’, ‘El cazador’… Some have been on the air for several years, others are newly released formats. And everyone agrees on one basic aspect: the presenter is a man. There is no woman for the contestants who play with their minds to guess words or numbers.

The presenter’s profile is the same and some of them look like they were separated at birth, both physically and in gestures. Most are between 40 and 50 years old, like Christian Gálvez (42) or Roberto Leal (43), the gray hair shines and the beard is groomed, even if it seems casual for a few days. At the extreme are Aitor Albizua (31 years old) and Jordi Huertado (65 years old). The athletic physique is appreciated and there are two former basketball players: Ion Aramendi and Jorge Fernández.

“He is the same model of an attractive presenter who conveys experience, whose sexual identity we do not know, but he seems heterosexual, middle-aged and more or less handsome, dressed in a jacket or a lumberjack shirt, casual, who is loved and jokes without going overboard. », says Elena Bandrés, professor at the University of Zaragoza, expert in audiovisual communication and gender violence. “They are responding to a stereotype that represents roles where the man has credibility, sternness and authority. These competitions serve to entertain and educate, but they exude a hidden machismo in the figure of the unique presenter and his voice of exclusive mastery of the man ».

The guys on TV have some screen experience. Of the last 15 knowledge competitions broadcast in the generalists, six of their presenters have previously worked on humor programs (Juanra Bonet, Arturo Valls, Goyo Jiménez, Pablo Chiapella, Raúl Gómez or Jandro). Some have been in two recent programs almost simultaneously, such as Aramendi (‘El cazador’ and ‘Reacción en cadena’), Bonet (‘Who wants to be a millionaire?’ and ‘Boom’) or Gálvez (’25 palabras’, ‘Alta tension’ and until two years ago in ‘Pasapalabra’).

“Intelligence is believed to be a male domain,” says Milagros Sáinz, a researcher at the Open University of Catalonia (UOC) and UN Women expert. “The fact that women have traditionally been made invisible and banned from scientific and cultural knowledge and learning has a significant effect on the continued neglect we continue to be subject to, when it comes to choosing models of reference that represent authority figures of knowledge and of knowledge “.

There was a time when women had managed to gain a foothold in these spaces, and some of them were the face of cultural competitions. The first were Mayra Gómez Kemp in ‘One, two, three…’ (1982-1988); Julia Otero and Isabel Gemio in the program ‘3×4’, each presenter for one season (1988-1990); Irma Soriano in ‘La roulette de la fortuna’ (1990-1991) and Elisenda Roca, as the leader in ‘Cifras y letras’ (1994-1996). “It is a sign of the decline of women’s rights to credibility, which is happening in our society, in terms of the perception of men and women,” says Bandrés. «The fundamental theme is summed up in a name: Elisenda Roca. It’s a pity he’s the voice in ‘Know and Win’, because if he were a man he’d write a contest ».

In the new century, two women were present in “The Weakest Rival.” First Nuria González (2002-2003) and then Karmele Aranburu (2003-2004). The last presenter of knowledge competitions, and the one that was on the air the longest, was Silvia Jato with ‘Pasapalabra’ (2000-2005), if one ignores the two months that Nuria Roca defended ‘El millonario’ in 2012 Eighteen years after Jato and ten years after Roca, no woman has returned to be the image of an intellectual skills program.

“The choice of the presenter or presenter of any format in Mediaset España is never due to gender issues, but to other very different factors,” replies a Telecinco source. “The company currently has a majority of female presenters at the helm of all types of formats from news to current affairs and entertainment.” The other two generalist companies (RTVE and Antena 3) did not meet this paper’s requirements to explain their casting criteria. They pass a word.

The slots are full of competitions that measure knowledge. ‘The Wheel of Luck’ (Antena 3), ‘Know and Win’ (La 2), ’25 Words’ (Telecinco), ‘The Joker’ (La 1), ‘The Hunter’ (TVE), ‘Reaction in Chain ‘ (Telecinco), ‘Pasapalabra’ (Antena 3), Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? (Antenna 3). Not so long ago these were ‘Boom’, ‘Now I fall’, ‘El bribón’, ‘Código final’, ‘Mapi’, ‘Te has touched’ or ‘Alta tensión’. In the regional, “Catch me if you can” and all men.

A quiz question: is it possible that this disparity is happening in full view of millions of eyes without being noticed? “With all the equality policies being implemented in the media, such as television, it is surprising to see that these kinds of cultural programs are not also presented or hosted by women,” replies Sáinz. Even those in need of some new mental acuity, like HBO Max’s “Traitors,” have a man as the host, in this case Sergio Peris-Mencheta.

Displaced women from the leading role, at least the figure of young women who only served as hostesses, such as Lydia Bosch or Silvia Marsó, has not returned. Today only one remains, Laura Moure in ‘The wheel of luck’, a relic of that era and with a useless and unwarranted role as the screens are electronic and no manual interaction is required. «The disappearance of the hostesses is due to the fact that society and the laws are progressing», reflects Bandrés, «but even if ornamental women like ‘Mama Chicho’ disappear, we now do not have the relevance to represent authority in a general cultural program nor are stereotypes endorsed. The clock is ticking and although times are changing, culture on television is anchored in the past.

Source: La Verdad

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