Sunday, 24 April 2016

'Take Me Out': Why It's Time to Turn Off the Light

by Jasmine Nash


"It's 2016 - and yet thirty women are being
portrayed on TV as desperate for a man"
What happened to fine dining in a dimly set French restaurant on a Friday night? I am 10 years old and watching TV after a long, and what I thought at the time, stressful day at school. Behind me my dinner was cooking, spaghetti was spitting water all over the AGA top and bolognese bubbling away as I turned to switch on the small TV at the other end of the rectangular glass table. To my not so surprised younger TV fanatic self, there was once again another new dating game show aired on ITV. I dished out my dinner and began to partially watch the new show, ‘Take Me Out”, without taking too much notice of what was actually going on. Six years later and I have seen the show approximately five times, each time not truly taking into account what was REALLY going on.

Today, I am sixteen years old and as I dig into my beans and crumpets after a sincerely long and stressful day, my eyes and ears are drawn to the red flashing theme tune and intro on the TV screen, “Welcome to Take Me Out!”  “I’m DJ McGuinness and I’m behind the love decks tonight, I have thirty single women looking for a man to get jiggy with it”.  I rolled my eyes and thought to myself “Oh God, not this rubbish” and I was ready to turn over the channel to something more to my taste ('Come Dine With Me') - except I began to wonder: why doesn’t a confident woman dancing to cringe-worthy music descend from that “Love Lift”? And why is it always a man? It’s 2016 - and yet thirty women are being portrayed on TV as desperate for a man. In the near-to-last round of the show, the ‘mystery man’ judges the women based on their appearance and they ask the chosen two remaining girls one simple question about whatever they want. Then they walk up to them and turn off their light if they don’t like the look of them. 

This concept infuriated me. Firstly, because woman are being sexualised on TV by one-liners such as, “Ladies does he turn you on or turn you off?” when referring to their lights. Secondly, this is just as bad for men, as the girls judge them in round one purely on their appearance: “No likey, no lighty.” Aren’t we, as a society, supposed to be teaching the upcoming generation that life and love don’t depend solely on your appearance and that it isn’t OK to automatically decide whether you like someone or not based on their physical attributes? Younger people (i.e. the future generation) are watching this show and actually surprisingly liking it, which makes it look like it’s OK to judge people on their looks because they are so initially desperate for love.

Some women (and even some men) have been affected by the media (the contouring, the eyelash extensions, and the overdrawn lips etc) and most men have been affected by the stereotypical alpha male way of living ("a natural leader, confident, dominant" etc) and we have all been a victim of changing an aspect of our appearance to impress someone else. I partially blame ‘Take Me Out’ for this as it has taught people that it is not OK to look how you want because somebody else might not think you are attractive and that means that you won’t find love. As a society, we are progressing gradually with equality; for example, the Equal Pay Act of 1970 and Equality Act of 2010 show that men and women should be paid the same amount when doing the same job. 

However this does not mean that everything is equal, women are still not being paid the same amount as men. More seriously, a study found that in Britain at least half the suicides among young people were related to bullying and ten to fourteen year old girls are at a higher risk of suicide. This could be because they are exposed to the media of in some cases a size sixteen being classed as plus size. TV shows like ‘Take Me Out’ stop us from improving our society and implement the wrong ideas into our future generation. We are too busy worrying about the older generation not being on board with equality but what we don’t realise is that the upcoming generation are being led astray and being told that they aren’t good enough and they need to judge others.  We need to work as a society to execute the negative ways of thinking. Please take my advice and turn over the channel.

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