I was watching “The Voice UK” on Saturday night, the second episode of the battle rounds. Whilst enjoying the amazing performances from all of the competitors, something stuck in my craw.
The battle between Jake and Stephen was amazing, with both singers giving it their all. Then it came time for judges’ comments. Rita Ora was first, and her first comment was that they were two “sexy fellas”. Then Ricky Wilson chimed in, saying that Stephen had an “OK body”, which drew wolf whistles from the audience. Both Stephen and Jake looked incredibly uncomfortable with this exchange.
When I hear comments like this about male contestants on reality shows (and there have been plenty of instances on other shows, such as “Strictly Come Dancing”) I try and imagine the reaction if something like that was said about one of the female contestants. The women on these shows are often referred to as pretty or good looking, but if anyone dared to refer to them as “sexy gals” or commented on their bodies, there would immediately be complaints to the BBC about sexism and objectification.
I think that for some years, we have been sleep-walking into a media and social world where reverse sexism and the objectification of men is becoming commonplace and acceptable, even considered to be a joke. We say we’re only “poking fun”. That these men should be flattered that we find them so attractive. Where have we heard these arguments before?
“The Voice UK” is a show which is meant to be about the contestants’ voices, not how they look. Of course, looks do come into it as we are programmed from a young age to value good looks over almost anything else, but they certainly shouldn’t be the first thing the judges comment on.
I felt sorry for both Jake and Stephen that their performances were somewhat devalued by the comments about their appearance. It would be great if such comments about male contestants on shows like this, and about good looking males in general, became just as socially unacceptable as sexism and the objectification of women are today.