I’ve mentioned before that I have a little test I use when confronted with something I suspect might be sexist, one that works really well in the contexts of advertising and entertainment media. The test is that I imagine that the woman or women being depicted were replaced with men but that the context remains exactly the same. It’s basically the best sexism test I’ve ever been able to come up with, and it works almost every time.
I’m pretty ignorant of what’s going on in TV and movies, so I may be a little late on this one, but I’ve got a pretty rad example of the switcheroo for you:
Just imagine for a second that these 50 “Deal or No Deal girls” were replaced with 50 scantily-clad dudes. Take a few minutes to really envision the whole thing; picture them all standing on the stage holding briefcases and smiling like someone rubbed Vaseline on their teeth, smiling like they’re trying to pretend they’re really stoked to know that they’re there to be used as decorations for some leathery asshole with bonded teeth. 50 whole human beings being used as mere decoration, kind of like beer lamps, or like blacklight Jimi Hendrix posters, or like macramé owls. Try to imagine that they are grinning their asses off even though they’re aware that no one has any interest whatsoever in who they are as human beings, and that no one wants to hear anything they have to say at all, ever. About anything. And that they’re supposed to be grateful for the opportunity to be treated like objects.
“Yeah, right,” you say, “There’s no way a dude could stand there and smile under those conditions.” Or the more astute among you are saying, “No way, dude. No one could ever use men as decorations and give no consideration to their humanity beyond that, because being male is the default human identity and men are always full human beings. Besides, no one even wants to see men used as decoration. I mean, men aren’t there to be looked at, they’re there to be listened to and taken seriously! And besides that, it’d just be too bizarre to imagine, using 50 men as props for Howie Mandell or whoever this other asshole is in the photo. And don’t even suggest the idea of 50 men and a female host!”