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  • Ella Noonan

Big Brother - The Year of the Woman?

2018: it's the year Russia will be holding the world cup, and a royal wedding will take place as Prince Harry marries Suits actress, Meghan Markle. After the whirlwind of events that was 2017, there's no telling what we've got in store, but with Trump still in power and Taylor Swift still releasing new music, I can't say I've got the highest of hopes. 2018 also marks 100 years since women got the vote, sadly I can't take credit for knowing this information due to my extensive (or rather limited) historical knowledge, as ashamedly I actually learnt this from Big Brother. "What? Big brother? Surely that's not still on?" I hear you all cry, honestly I thought so too - apparently when channel 4 announced the end of big brother many years ago, what it actually meant is that it was in fact just moving to channel 5.

So another year and another heap of random d-list celebrities with the odd politician who's in there to attempt and usually fail to show the world their 'more human side'. I can't say it's something I usually watch however occasionally I confess I am guilty of switching on and absorbing the mind numbing arguments and mundane conversations between celebrities I've never heard of. Given the Christmas holidays and the time I've had on my hands to procrastinate from the imminent deadlines, I thought it would be a nice bit of viewing and have found myself inadvertently up to date with every episode. The thing that struck me as odd with this series was the rather strenuous link they've tried to make with the fact it's been 100 years since women got the vote. They're calling it 'year of the woman' and they kicked it all off with an all female launch on the first episode; from ex conservative member Anne Widdicombe, transgender woman India Willoughby (formerly ITV newsreader Jonathan Willoughby), to Kardashian BFF Malika Haqq to name a few. Men have since been thrown into the mix however there's a strong emphasis on how the women 'have all the power' - I'm not entirely sure what this means other than the fact they allocated a couple of cleaning jobs and get access to a private bar. In a time where eyebrows are still raised at the notion of equal rights between the sexes, it's a nice spin on an otherwise very dull TV show concept, however I'm struggling to understand the link. I mean women didn't really throw themselves under horses and lose their lives so that 100 years later they could make a Big Brother special about it, or did I miss that part of the lesson in year 6 history?

I think the part that bugged me the most about it all was the way the contestants really used it as a justification of why they were on the show. Even saying things like "I normally turn the show down however this year I knew it was special and meant something". I feel like normally the celebs are pretty honest about the fact that the main reason anyone goes on it is for the money and press surrounding it, however this year I feel like a lot of them are cowering out of that by giving some spiel about how they've entered this year for female empowerment - doesn't really make an ounce of sense to be honest.

I understand certain points for example spreading LGBT awareness and I would say it's an excellent platform to do it on but I would still argue against the fact that this was the sole purpose for entering.

As if I didn't already have enough questions, they then decided to bring in the men. There was one male contestant in particular that you could say ruffled my feathers, and this was Daniel O'reily, perhaps better known as 'Dapper Laughs'. Infamous for making somewhat distasteful jokes in 2014 where he was filmed at one of his live shows making a joke about how one of the female audience members was "gagging for a rape". He's now entered the Big Brother house claiming on his VT that since losing his father and having a daughter, he's a changed man and he's learnt a lot. I'm not by any means claiming that people can't learn from their mistakes, and to be honest, after his grilling from Emily Maitlis on Newsnight you'd think there's no way he's still be that stupid. Regardless of his capabilities to grow as an individual, my issues lies within the fact that I don't think a supposedly feminist fulled series of Big Brother is the time for him to prove himself. Giving him airtime would have frustrated me on any regular series but when they're making a massive song and dance over the importance of women yet welcoming a man who postulates nothing but laddish , sexist, vulgarity and a complete disrespect for women. I'd like to think he'll be able to prove me and I'm sure many others wrong however given he's already made very crude remarks about one of the female house members, I can't say I have much faith in him.

Alas, we're only 5 episodes in so who knows what will happen. Fingers crossed the women in the house will harness this apparent power they've been given and eliminate any men who step out of line.


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