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Georgian Women Condemn "Sexist" Game Show

Portrayal of women in popular culture reinforces discriminatory attitudes.
By Nana Kurashvili

Women’s rights activists in Georgia say a new TV show highlights a wider culture of sexism in what is still a male-dominated society.

Dozens of activists took part in a protest outside Imedi TV on March 25, to express their anger at a game show called “Female Logic”, in which six men get to win cash prizes if they correctly predict how six women – all young and attractive – will answer simple questions like, “Around which celestial object does the earth orbit?”

The protesters said the show, a local version of a Dutch programme, was sexist and offensive, and held up placards saying “Logic Has No Gender” and “End Sexist Propaganda”.

“This show, from its name to its contents, violates women’s rights since it insults them head-on,” Mariam Gagoshashvili, a student taking part in the protest, said. “The message of the programme is that only men possess logic.”

Eka Agdgomelashvili of Women's Initiative Support Group, said the show was unusually sexist even for Georgia, in that as well as focusing on female participants’ physical appearance, it featured “comments about their low intellect”.

Gigi Giorgadze, head of Imedi TV’s legal department, said the activists’ complaints would be looked into.

“If it turns out that women’s rights have been violated, then we and the producers will discuss how we can modernise this channel, so that this difficult issue doesn’t get raised again,” he said.

Since 2010, Georgia has had a law in force bringing it into compliance with the United Nations convention banning discrimination against women and demanding equality of rights.

But rights activists say the reality is very different.

According to an investigation conducted by the United Trade Unions of Georgia, which relied on official statistics, women are on average paid half as much as men in Georgia. Women hold only 6.5 per cent of the seats of parliament. Yet 64 per cent of women have a higher education, compared with 60 per cent of men.

The study attributed the discrimination on persistent cultural stereotypes that are reinforced by the media.

A poll of just over 1,000 which the Institute of Civil Policy carried out at the end of last year found that more than two-thirds of respondents believed men should decide what happened in the home, while about half thought that once a woman got married, she should spend less time working and more time at home.

The protest against the TV show is not the first time that activists have sought to challenge the image of women as subservient.

Ahead of International Women’s Day on March 8, they held a protest march against adverts offering women special car insurance rates to mark the date. The ad suggested that women were bad drivers who liked to do their make-up behind the wheel.

“This is a typical sexist advert, and they are very widespread in Georgia.… It simultaneously exploits the female image as a consumer product while accentuating the stereotypes applied to women in traditional cultures,” Teo Khatiashvili, a women’s rights activist and film critic, said.

NikoTevdorashvili, head of TGM Marketing, the firm that created the advertising campaign, said he saw nothing wrong with it.

“I haven’t seen any sexism in these posters, nor any kind of discrimination,” he said.” I don’t think the campaign was out to create a scandal. I think it was meant more as a joke than as an insult. There’s just been a misunderstanding between the [insurance] company and the consumer,” he said, adding, “Georgia doesn’t have a big enough feminist movement to cause the company any harm.”

Khatiashvili insisted that the insurance advert was only one of many that perpetuated an image of women as inferior to men.

“In Georgia, a stereotype has been created, and it is reinforced by these adverts, so we are trying to respond to them,” she said. “Last year, the Bank of Georgia had a similar advert. But the worst were the [beer] adverts…. We have good reason to keep on protesting.”

Nana Kurashvili is a freelance journalist in Georgia.