The Irish Mail on Sunday
Sky has beauties but not a bimbo in sight
Suffering in silence was the norm when Pamela was a child
ON HEARING that Rachel Wyse, a broadcaster not known for her ubiquity on Hill 16, had landed herself gig as a GAA commentator on Sky, GAA pundit and Irish Mail on Sunday columnist Joe Brolly vented his dismay. He typed ‘SKY = TV3 plus Baywatch Babe’, starting an avalanche of criticism and charges of sexism against the former Derry footballer.
It was a crude, top-of-the head remark for which he, in fairness, issued a grovelling apology.
If Brolly had thought a little harder about his tweet, he might have simply put Glamorous Woman in place of the demeaning Baywatch Babe. He would have made his point just as effectively and more importantly, he would not have caused offence. He would have spoken nothing but the obvious, which is that Sky Sports’s marketing strategy seems nearly as much about selling sex as games.
In days gone by, sports fans had to content themselves with the likes of Micheál Ó Muircheartaigh or Jimmy Hill in order to keep up to date with the latest news and views. But commercial television channels across the world now prefer to employ beautiful women in order to give their mostly male viewers everything they crave in one place.
Sky Sports is in the vanguard of the movement to make sports sexy and you only have to google ‘Sky Sports presenters’ to see the veracity of Joe Brolly’s claims. The internet page looks like a wall-towall collage of female faces, all of them impossibly beautiful, most with tumbling locks, wide smiles and not a few in provocative poses, dressed only in their underwear.
Some of the women are crawling around on all fours, others are draped over rocks or stretched out along a shoreline.
On Newstalk on Friday, broadcaster and former Wexford hurler Diarmuid Lyng said this parade of presenters in their scanties looked like a ‘soft porn site’, adding that if that was not ‘hypersexualising the presenters, then I don’t know what is’.
It would be great if we lived in a world where women on screen were judged by the same physical yardstick as men. But we don’t. Public service broadcasters like RTE may, to its credit, refuse to slavishly follow the crass dictates of the mass market. It hires pleas- PAMELA Anderson’s elderly mother is devastated by the catalogue of horrendous sex abuse her daughter suffered as a child. Carol Anderson can’t understand how she missed all the signs that her little girl was molested from the age of six by a female babysitter, was raped at 12 by the brother of a friend and then gang-raped as a teenager by her boyfriend and his friends.
She is not the first parent to berate herself for not protecting her precious child. But she should remember that in the 1970s, awareness about sex abuse was very different to today.
When Carol was raising her children, sex abuse was hidden, usually undetected and most victims, like her daughter, suffered in total silence.
THE Oscar Pistorius trial has been put on hold while he undergoes psychiatric evaluation for a suspected anxiety disorder.
The defence argues that Pistorius is still so traumatised by his double amputation that he reacts violently to stress. Let’s hope that the psychiatrists charged with determining his mental health take a look at Oscar’s many sprinting victories. They will see a cool and unflappable athlete, triumphing not only over his extreme physical affliction but all traces of pre-race anxiety. ant-looking presenters rather than out-and-out bombshells, but we can hardly expect a broadcast behemoth like Sky, with its ruthless quest to dominate the marketplace, to bend to GAA tradition or comely maiden archetypes.
IF a woman wants to make it in Sky Sports she had better be good looking but she also has to be an accomplished broadcaster. She must be intelligent enough to familiarise herself with a sport about which she may not be passionate and incisive enough to be a com- mentator. In short, she has to be as smart and capable as the men, and a whole lot better looking.
It’s sexist and insulting to denigrate a woman who has parlayed her looks into a screen-test for Sky Sports as a bimbo. But too often people see glamour and a bulb lights up in their brains saying ‘dizzy airhead’. Telly-totty is a term that is bandied about to put female broadcasters in the same place as simpering page-three girls, when in reality presenters are doing a fiercely demanding job, often under great pressure.
Many of Brolly’s accusers were as sexist as his original tweet. They seemed to believe that talking of Rachel Wyse’s attractiveness was to somehow repudiate her education, her athleticism as an international showjumper and job as a news anchor on Sky Sports. But Brolly was talking about her glamour in relation to Sky’s winning formula, not her achievements.
As for the beautiful bimbo stereotype, ironically you don’t have to look any further than Sky Sports to see it turned on its head.