Take Me Out: Sexist or just harmless fun?

We asked Birmingham what they thought

birmingham bnoc controversy date debate Feng gender guild of students not on campaign objectification sexism students Take me out uni university of birmingham UoB

The Guild declared Blurred Lines too sexist to be played and some individuals took offence to attractive women in lingerie to promote a play.  So does a competition promoting objectification fit with the university’s policy?

Earlier this week, the University held a Take Me Out event based on ITV’s successful programme. This is the second year the event has taken place, and it has been very popular.

But there are lingering concerns about the event being sexist, or at least encouraging objectification – both of male and female contestants – and these concerns make it difficult to see how this event fits in with the university’s policy.

The show’s format even at university level gives a group of girls the opportunity to publicly judge a man on whether he is a suitable partner or not based primarily on sexual attraction, and if enough girls are left at the end, the man can make similar superficial judgments.  This has led people to label it sexist, as it objectifies both genders based on their appearance.

Great poster

According to Alex Liptrot, a third year Law student, and UoB’s own Paddy McGuinness, this is not the case.  He told The Tab: “Sexism I would suppose involves discrimination based on a person’s sex or gender.

“To that end, no I don’t think Take Me Out is sexist. The participants decide whether they want a date, based on the guy’s entrance (and yes, looks).  But also they take into account the video and there talent, all of which provide an insight into their character.

“It’s not necessarily sexist, but at the same time I wouldn’t advocate judging a book by it’s cover. That’s just the nature of the show- and it’s all done for fun. I don’t think for a second there’s an overt discrimination based on a person’s gender on the show.”

Although this does look quite a lot like judging a book by its cover

The event organiser, current student and aspiring entrepreneur Jack Kelly, had this to say regarding Take Me Out’s arguably dubious moral compass:

“I can’t comment on the bigger picture of the show, but I do think it would be fun to reverse the gender roles of the show and see if it changes things: i.e., guys who are behind the buzzers.  I’d also love to see an LGBT version of the show.  I approached UOB LGBT with the idea, but sadly it didn’t take off.”

But what do the contestants have to say? At the end of the day they are the one’s being objectified aren’t they? Reigning BNOC and all round top lass Christina Feng had this to say about the event:

“Take Me Out was good fun, but I still think it’s a bit sexist because it’s based on how a girl views a boy based upon first appearances and vice versa. Also from a girl’s point of view the boy taking part sometimes makes certain comments in order to come across as “manly” and to impress others around.”

Male contestant Anthony Jefferey who managed to bag a date added: “I don’t think its sexist because everyone has to be involved in a way where they have to present themselves whether its via a video or through comments on stage. However it would be interesting to see both genders play both roles which could remove any potential comments about the show being sexist.”

Anthony doesn’t see a problem with the show

Suzi McFall, infamous for her 100 fab showings, was also a contestant on Wednesday.  She disagrees with the notion that the show promotes sexism and objectification due to its light-hearted nature: “I absolutely loved being one of the girls on UOB’s Take Me Out! It was so much fun! I don’t think the event was at all sexist. Overall, it was very light hearted- nobody took it too seriously!”

The ladies dress up to impress the lads with their personalities

The guild is very conscious about discrimination be it forms of racism or sexism.  Last year they launched the “Not On” campaign in conjunction with the university to combat sexual harassment.

In the case of Take Me Out though, everybody enjoyed it and it can be argued that both sexes gave as good as they got, but at the same time encouraging people to judge each other based on how fit they are seems a little morally ambiguous.