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Georgian Television Refuses To Recognise Its Sexism

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On July 9, 2014 a shock­ing thing hap­pened on GDS TV: women were used as per­cus­sion in­stru­ments. When peo­ple saw how a man slapped his hands on the bot­toms of two scant­ily dressed women, there were a va­ri­ety of re­sponses.

GDS is an en­ter­tain­ment chan­nel in Geor­gia, and Bina 18 (Apart­ment 18) is just one of its pro­grammes. Sup­pos­edly, un­usual things hap­pen in each episode. The last episode def­i­nitely got the au­di­ence’s at­ten­tion, how­ever. Bani, a Geor­gian folk­lore group that plays var­i­ous Geor­gian in­stru­ments, was in­vited onto the show. Slap­ping the bot­toms of women was the idea of the show’s cre­ative team. As the show’s host later said, it was an ex­per­i­ment meant to demon­strate whether the group could play drums using women’s bot­toms. 

Playing drums on women's buttocks on Bina 18.

Shortly after broad­cast­ing the show, there were nu­mer­ous re­sponses from NGOs, the pub­lic de­fender, women on Face­book and even women’s on­line jour­nal. All of them de­mand an apol­ogy from the chan­nel.

The first re­sponse came from the women’s in­for­ma­tive cen­tre. From the let­ter that was later shared by every on­line mag­a­zine, this par­tic­u­lar para­graph says it all – “While the Geor­gian gov­ern­ment pre­sented a re­port on the elim­i­na­tion of all forms of dis­crim­i­na­tion against women to the UN, there was pro­gramme that dis­crim­i­nated against women on Geor­gian TV.”  The cen­tre also de­manded that pun­ish­ment against Bina 18’s cre­ative team. Mean­while, the pub­lic de­fender Ucha Nan­u­ashvili stated that – “Show­ing women as a sub­ject is sex­ism that could bring dev­as­tat­ing con­se­quences.”

Tele­vi­sion has a huge in­flu­ence on its au­di­ence. There­fore, it is im­por­tant that chan­nels help to demon­strate the role of women prop­erly and ex­press re­spect. It is un­for­tu­nate that GDS TV and Bina 18’s cre­ative team don’t wish to apol­o­gise. One of Bina 18’s hosts, Kotiko Toloraia, said sorry in ironic way, stat­ing that the per­for­mance was just a joke and if any­one felt of­fended, then he is sorry. But then he quickly added that he doesn’t un­der­stand why any­one would be of­fended by what they had done. After this speech the hosts made one more “joke” – a girl slapped their bot­toms as they said – “oh, I feel of­fended now. Our rights are vi­o­lated. We got what we de­served.”

A cheeky response to accusations of sexism.

On July 12, 2014, Geor­gia’s Jour­nal­is­tic Ethics Char­ter pub­lished a state­ment on their web­site about this topic. The state­ment be­gins by ex­plain­ing that they were wait­ing for the chan­nel to apol­o­gize, but the apol­ogy was never made.

Now we are wait­ing for GDS TV to re­spond to de­mands. Some say that the show de­cided to stage such a sex­ist per­for­mance be­cause it would make the rat­ings go up, but the cre­ative team says that it was all just a joke.

They aren’t tak­ing their own sex­ism se­ri­ously. But we can’t achieve any­thing with­out re­al­is­ing that each move we make should be re­flected upon deeply.