Back in December when Channel 5 announced an all-female lineup to celebrate 100 years of women being allowed to vote, I was intrigued. I hoped the show would focus on women's issues and discussions but as the show moved on my gut instinct became a reality.
Unfortunately, like brands that capitalise on equality, Big Brother jumped on the feminist bandwagon in the hopes of appearing politically liberal but really adding to the notion that feminism is about women and playing into hands of trolls who dub feminists as 'feminazis'.
As contestants were introduced in their VTs they described in detail their roles as women and their relationship with other women, something men are rarely asked to do. Ashley was the first person to mention feminism in a positive light as she declared herself a feminist, Emma Willis, the presenter of the show, reminded us that Malika, dubbed Khloë Kardashians friend, is "pro-women" but not a feminist and Ann Widdecombe told Willis she was anxious about being surrounded by a group of 'cackling women'. Interestingly, Malika is one of many people terrified of declaring themselves a feminist and opting for a term she considered safe.
The first task from Tuesday nights launch show was a sobering moment. The contestants were asked to complete a task that involved rewiring the Big Brother house - to prove that a woman can do anything a man can do. To break that down, women were asked to prove their capabilities at DIY and I was half expecting Big Brother to ask the contestants to screw in a light bulb. Women having to 'prove' their capabilities is nothing new. If you think back to how both Trump and Clinton's campaigns for the presidency was represented you'll remember how Hillary's innocence in the email scandal and her health became big red flags which hindered any chance she had of becoming the 45th President of the United States.
While most on Twitter were arguing that the show was being anti-men by not including men, problematic in itself as the majority of platforms are male-dominated and male contestants will be included from tonight onwards, my initial reaction was the lack of diversity on the show. The majority of the women are white - highlighting Big Brothers lack of concern that feminism is, in fact, an intersectional movement and not just concerned with the woes of white women.
Producers of Celebrity Big Brother 'tried' to break the mould - including transgender newsreader and presenter India Willoughby - but failed miserably. On Thursday night's show viewers saw blogger Ashley James correct former Tory Anne Widdecombe and Rachel Johnson (both conservatives and attached to political parties) for their misgendering of India. Anne and Rachel continued to refer to India as "he" even after Ashley corrected Anne and Rachel twice and India had discussed misgendering with Anne beforehand, an example of the transphobia India and countless other trans women and men experience daily.
Seeing as Ann didn’t know India before her transition, there was absolutely no need for her to misgender her. Had she had known her before her transition perhaps a mistake could happen. That was no mistake. ??♀️ #CBB #CBBUK #CBBAnn #CBBIndia
— Cαɾʅყ ? (@LameDuckXo) January 4, 2018
If Big Brother had educated its contestants about issues that impact ALL women, and not just their peer group (in the past Anne has voted in favour of the death penalty and against LGBT rights), then we could celebrate the show as radical and progressive. By choosing housemates that would not fully embrace or acknowledge India's trans identity, for example, Big Brother cannot deny its true intentions - to profit from women at the expense of other women.