This Twitter storm over The Apprentice sums up exactly why men still don't understand sexism

Sirena Bergman@SirenaBergman
Thursday 17 October 2019 11:00
news
(BBC/Twitter)

Part of the joy of watching ridiculous shows like the The Apprentice is that they allow us to collectively bond over our outrage at the wild fetishisation of capitalist individualism, and the absurdity of its so-called meritocratic process.

But last night the chat got real as suddenly hoards of Twitter users were rushing to condemn perceived sexism. So far, so woke, right?

The first red flag though, is that it's mostly men who seem to be cross, which is weird because when, for example, the prime minister (or US president for that matter) gets accused of sexual harassment, men seem to be conspicuously slower to express their outrage on social media, if at all.

(#NotAllMen, obviously)

It all starts to make sense when you realise that it's a woman being accused of sexism. This is of course possible - many women have a lot of internalised misogyny and subconscious biases which have been forced upon us by a patriarchal society.

But this is... not that.

It's Week 3 on The Apprentice and time to "mix up" the teams - in other words ditch the weird nursery school vibe of segregating genders and go co-ed.

Despite being on the losing side for the entirety of the season, Lewis was determined he should lead the sub-team (I guess this is what they mean when say live your life with the confidence of a mediocre white man).

Pamela, who was leading the team, decided against appointing him - as is her prerogative - but her explanation hasn't gone down well.

We've got to have a girl in charge of the subteam... Jemelin, I'd like to put you in charge. I think you can whip the boys into shape.

There seem to be two different arguments people are latching onto: that she chose her sub-leader based on their gender; and that if a man had said it in the inverse, it would be problematic.

So let's unpack this.

Firstly, the women's team had won twice. It stands to reason that she would think the men's team would need a bit of "whipping" and "shaping".

Pamela explains that she referred to "the boys" not based on their gender, but rather based on the fact that they keep losing.

When Lewis continued to insist it was his God-given right (based on a marketing Masters, in case you were wondering) to lead the team, Pamela replies:

Yeah but you've lost twice, so I'm going to make sure...

One can only assume she was going to say "make sure we win", but it's impossible to know because Lewis interrupted her. Again.

Really, if Team A kept winning and Team B kept losing, who would you rather trust to lead you to victory...?

Further, yes it is possible to be biased against men. However, the term "sexism" is (by definition) typically used to refer to the systematic discrimination, oppression and stereotyping of women.

To take the language of social engrained misogyny - which inherently benefits men while disadvantaging women - and use it to describe an individual instance of a man not getting the position of power he wants, is to entirely misunderstand what sexism means.

Still confused? Here, have a simple tweet to sum it up:

It's almost enough to make one yearn for the good old days of The Apprentice without the controversial women, isn't it?

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