This week the media has been engulfed in the drama surrounding the sexist comments made about lines woman Sian Massey and the subsequent sacking and resignation of pundits Andy Gray and Richard Keys respectively.
The topic even made it onto Question Time on Thursday night, where business woman and former contestant on The Apprentice Katie Hopkins caused her own controversy by suggesting women could not take equal treatment. She said:
“I think Sky Sports has completely lost its sense of humour. I think as a nation potentially we have lost our collective sense of humour.
“I think people like Karren Brady, who have appointed herself patron saint of all things equal, does not speak on behalf of all of the sisterhood.
“I think women actually don’t want equal treatment, they couldn’t handle it if they got it, quite a number of them. It’s a tough world out there.
“I think the art of banter is something we should be proud of as a nation. I worked for a while in the military and our forces, the best in the world, in my opinion, they survive in banter. I think we need to keep that, we need to look after it.”
But does the sacking of a sports commentator, who incidentally is paid 1.7 million for the pleasure, really constitute Sky Sports losing its sense of humour?
For a start it is questionable whether the comments made by Gray and Keys should even constitute “banter”, which surely is more than just being rude, and not to mention clichéd.
The term “banter” covers a multitude of sins. It seems you can call anyone anything, cover it with a veneer of humour and call it banter, no matter how nasty or unpleasant the underlying sentiment.
The fact is that male dominated work industries can be sexist and bullying towards female members of staff. And even when its labelled a joke, its hard to deal with being constantly undermined on a daily basis.
In these sorts of industries it is important to question whether perhaps bullying may simply have been re-labelled as banter.
If this is the case, it is simply not acceptable.
Today, the most read story on the Daily Mail website is
Sky Sports sexists made my life hell, says woman worker who lost her home after being reduced to a nervous wreck
In it, Vanessa Bridger, former employee of Sky Sports told the Mail:
“Sexism and bullying is a culture which can be found throughout Sky Sports,
“When you work there, it’s so accepted that you think it’s normal. But it’s damaged so many people, and it has to stop. Maybe now it will.”
If women are ever going to achieve equality in the work place, cultures where sexism is perceived as normal will have to be tackled.