Men Say Women Are Too Modest To Host HIGNFY & Twitter Calls BS

Panel shows are notoriously male-dominated environments and TV executives have long been criticised for failing to put enough talented women on screen. Back in 2014, the BBC announced a quota for women on panel shows, with the corporation vowing to include at least one woman in each episode.
While the situation may have improved slightly in the interim four years, the gender split on the vast majority of comedy panel shows is still far from equal. Why? According to the team captain's of the BBC's long-running Have I Got News For You, women are too self-effacing to put themselves forward. The implication being that it's women's own fault or failings, rather than a failing of TV producers to reach out to– and create a culture in which women feel welcome and equal.
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Talking about the small number of women who have presented the show in its 28-year history (and 55 series) in an interview with the Radio Times, Ian Hislop said: “There was a period when people said: ‘Why haven’t you had French and Saunders on? Why haven’t you had the following people?’ And you say, well, it’s not compulsory. And on the whole, women are slightly more reticent and think, maybe modestly: ‘I can’t do that.’ Maybe more men in public life say: ‘Yes I can do that.’”
Meanwhile, Merton said "the producers always ask more women than men. More women say no," adding that it's been this way since the show's early days, the Guardian reported. To which Hislop chimed in: “And everyone you think should have been asked has been. Really, they really have.”
As you can imagine, many took issue with the claim that women are too "modest" to take up the challenge, as well as the suggestion that every suitable women had already turned down the job. Many on Twitter rubbished the idea that it was women's own timidity that was stopping them from taking part, as opposed to comedy's misogynistic culture.
Conservative MP Nadine Dorries, who appeared on the show in 2012, said the show is "too vicious" for most female guests, and does not "lend itself to women feeling comfortable", adding that she had turned down later offers to take part, reported the BBC. "It's all about banter - women don't banter in that way, or very rarely. You might get the odd woman who would, but most women don't banter in that way, don't have that degree of aggression."
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Meanwhile Catherine Mayer, co-founder of the Women's Equality Party, criticised the show's "sniggering-schoolboy ethos" in an impassioned thread.
Many prominent women, including politicians and journalists, even put themselves forward, giving the show's producers no excuse for a lack of diversity on future panels.
It's not the first time HIGNFY has been criticised for failing to adequately represent and support women. In a clip from the show that went viral in November, comedian and host Jo Brand famously had to explain to an all-male panel why society should take accusations of sexual assault seriously, after Hislop suggested that some of the allegations coming out of Westminster weren't “high-level crime."
“If I can just say, as the only representative of the female gender here today – I know it’s not high-level, but it doesn’t have to be high-level for women to feel under siege in somewhere like the House of Commons," Brand said. "Actually, for women if you’re constantly being harassed, even in a small way, that builds up and that wears you down.” Will powerful men ever get the message?
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