Friday, 2 August 2013

Sexism in Germany’s media – a latest issue on occasion of the UEFA EURO-Championship 2013

Women should not play football, except they look sexy while doing it!

It’s sad that obviously women in sports are yet not taken seriously. Here, in Germany in the 21st century.

I could not believe my eyes when two weeks ago the I saw the TV commercial on the European Championship 2013 in football made by the ZDF, one of the two biggest state-funded TV channels in Germany: you see the sporty legs of a woman, dribbling a dirty football down the stairs of a laundry room, and shooting it into a washing machine. Switching on the latter, sitting on top of it and waiting. For the whole time, you only see the legs of the woman.

I wonder how the programme-director and actually the whole stuff of the ZDF could let this happen. Of course I am not the only one feeling anger and embarrassment when seeing the commercial. In social networks, people expressed their anger, even the Tagesthemen, Germany’s biggest news show of the first state-funded TV station had an issue on their rival’s faux pas. The ZDF reacted shortly after: The head master said that he was astonished about the audience’s annoyance saying something like “Usually our commercials are rather taken as funny”. 

Funny. Why do you feminists and all the other people trying to be so politically correct not see things as they are meant to be seen? Just funny! Hey! Doesn’t it say: Girls just wanna have fun? Wouldn’t that actually be a nice theme for the women’s EURO?

The point is that it is not funny. What is funny about a woman that shoots a ball into a washing-machine? Hahaha. She does not wash laundry, as usually. Today she washes a football, because – surprise, surprise, she does play football, although she is a woman who should spend her day in the washing-kitchen, or in the usual kitchen, of course.

Why can’t football just be taken as football, as sports? Why can’t such a commercial not just consist of what sports stand for? Showing how it is, exciting, fast and technically advanced – just beautiful? Why do – as soon as the players do not have any penises - other attributes have to come into play that in many people’s eyes define women – but never define the sports itself? Here, it does not matter, if they play football or if they do anything else – they are always shown as women.

I talked about this with a friend. She told me to watch the TV commercial the BBC has produced on the women’s UEFA championship. This and another commercial by another British TV channel are really good: They show football and do not play with clichés in order to produce humour, but thereby just reproduce clichés. Thus, political correctness indeed is possible. 

Although the ZDF defended their commercial as being meant as funny, they changed it for the announcement for the following game of the German team: Now, there is also a headless man shown, ironing a football-shirt.

Does this make it better? Does it elude the sexism of the former commercial? Well, now one could laugh about it and say: Haha, okay, this is how the world has changed: women play football (men’s part) and men iron shirts (women’s part). Isn’t this just another reproduction of clichés, doesn’t this just reproduce role models and thereby inequality? 

I’d say the whole story is just a shame for the ZDF. But who is to blame here? Is there anyone to be blamed at all? And who cares, actually? Some feminists do, yes! But those are not really taken seriously. They are just not funny. One is not even allowed to make jokes with them. What a pity.
How could those deciding about commercials like this make better, if they are not aware about the mistakes they do? I do not know. Even here, in Germany, the discussion on gender mainstreaming is only at its beginning. It is still a long way to be gone, and until such behaviour will change in the public sphere, sadly, a lot of embarrassing and sexist media contents will keep being produced. At places where it is most efficient: in the media, in the streets, in the public and most importantly in people’s heads

Maybe watching the English commercials would help people to see what all this actually should be about: sports. No matter where the players’ balls are positioned. 

Hannah Klein

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