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Battle of the sexes

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'Big Brother': Is this the most sexist season ever?

By Emily Yahr
Washington Post
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/08/06/15/00/MD4yu.Em.138.jpeg|473
    Monty Brinton - CBS
    Amber’s refusal to date Caleb led to her untimely eviction on the CBS reality competition “Big Brother.”
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/08/06/15/00/1knMiD.Em.138.jpeg|210
    Sonja Flemming - CBS
    Houseguests Caleb and Zach on “Big Brother.”
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/08/06/15/00/fnda6.Em.138.jpeg|473
    Sonja Flemming - CBS
    Houseguest Caleb on “Big Brother.”

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    Big Brother, CBS

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Misogyny on the longtime CBS reality competition “Big Brother” isn’t really anything new.

For starters, the show doesn’t attract the most reputable contestants. Second, if you stick 16 people in a house and cut them off from the outside world as they scheme and vote each other out one by one so the last person standing wins $500,000, gendered cliques are naturally going to form.

The all-bro alliance is a time-honored tradition.

That said, this season has taken sexism to new heights, thanks to: 1. Some clueless players; 2. Men who take revenge on women who reject advances or offer a differing opinion; and 3. One kind of scary stalking situation.

This season, there’s a new twist; the game started with eight female players and eight males. Each week, instead of one “head of household” in charge of nominating two players for eviction, there are two heads of household, with four players on the chopping block.

The houseguests then vote at the end of the week to decide who will go home.

Most of the players nominated for eviction this season have been women.

It all started almost immediately, when six men formed an alliance, and two – Caleb and Frankie – won a competition and became the first people in charge of the game.

No girl power

It was a bad sign for the ladies when Joey, a punkish makeup artist from Seattle, sensed the guys were forming a bond and eagerly approached the other women to float the idea of all-girl alliance. She made some excellent points: The men were working together. There’s power in numbers. It would be the easiest way to avoid elimination.

The result?

She was met with awkward silence and confused looks. Partly because two women were secretly working with the guys, and because an all-girl power alliance has not existed in the game before. Joey didn’t know that, and therefore got burned.

“I don’t know how women are supposed to get anywhere in this game unless we stick together,” Joey said sadly during an on-camera interview after the women refused to band together. “It was just an epic fail.”

Well, Joey was correct, and it’s all been downhill for the women from there.

Unfortunately, the idea of a female alliance is probably looking pretty good to the women now: Joey was obviously booted, followed by Paola, the deejay who annoyed everyone and was considered the weakest player.

The next week, the guys turned on one of their own and helped evict Devin, who was too unpredictable to be trusted (and who steamrolled over every woman who tried to offer an opinion). Since then, the evictees have been Brittany – a single mom who was relentlessly targeted, likely for her refusal to flirt with any of the guys running the house – and now, Amber.

Pay to stay

Brittany and Amber’s downfall illustrates another unsettling problem: If a woman doesn’t return a guy’s affections, she’s out. That’s been scarily evident with Amber, who was welcomed into the guys’ alliance when Caleb had a huge crush on her.

Amber’s refusal to date a guy she despised (and who had pretty much been stalking her) spelled doom. “That’s what happens when you bite the hand that feeds you,” Caleb mumbled on the live broadcast when Amber was eliminated.

After she left the house, Amber told host Julie Chen that Caleb essentially ruined her game by fixating on her. Amber said: “I’m not going to pretend to be to win some money.” The studio audience applauded wildly.

Eventually, it’s going to be a numbers game, and the guys will turn on each other. Even though it’s “Big Brother” – the least classy of all network reality shows – such blatant sexism is still appalling.

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