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Sequence of Letters to the Broadcasting Standards Authority on Feminist Linguistic Sexism -- Letter No. 1

© Peter Zohrab 2012

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Broadcasting Standards Authority,
P.O.Box 9213,
Wellington.

 

Dear Sir/Madam,

I am dissatisfied with the decision by the Television New Zealand Limited Complaints Committee not to uphold the complaint I made to it in the letter below:

'I am writing to make a formal complaint about the sexist double-standard you seem to operate under as regards "sexist language". I am making a formal complaint, because you failed to reply to my informal complaint on this matter. In the 6 o'clock Television One News on 12.11.1992, your newsreader quite clearly referred to a "gunman" in Melbourne.

Where it suits the Feminist pressure-groups, you are at pains to use "non-sexist" terms, such as "humankind" instead of the less clumsy word "mankind", and "actor" for "actress" (even though sex and gender are usually very relevant to the work and appeal of people in that line of work).

But of course no Feminist pressure-group wants you to say "gunperson" instead of "gunman", so you don't. This exposes the myth that your concern to be non-sexist is a matter of principle. In fact, it is just a question of doing what the Feminists tell you to do, and ignoring men's rights.

The use of the word "gunman" must be considered to breach the Code of Broadcasting Practice relating to the portrayal of people in a manner that encourages denigration of, or discrimination against sections of the community on account of sex. You should either have no policy at all on "sexist language", or you should apply it fairly so that it applies in an equitable manner. It is not only words with positive overtones (such as "chairman") that should be made "gender-neutral" (if any should be changed at all). That would discriminate against men. Words with negative overtones should also be changed !'

I hereby refer my complaint to you for investigation and review, because Television New Zealand's eventual reply (note that they did not reply to my first letter, which implies that they had no logical answer, but were acting as Feminists in power, rejecting as unimportant the protests of a mere powerless male) was completely unsatisfactory.

The grounds that Television New Zealand gave for rejecting my complaint were:

'The Committee noted that the code specifically states that its "requirement is not intended to prevent the broadcast of material which is factual."

The person who carried out the shooting did so with a gun, and was a man. The Committee believes the term "gunman" was accurate and factual.

It believes there was no breach of the code.'

But it would also be "factual" to describe Audrey Hepburn, for example, as an "actress" -- but Television New Zealand have recently introduced a policy under which she would be referred to as an "actor". That is ³less± factual than "actress", because Audrey Hepburn is a person who is or was a member of the acting profession, and she is also a woman. As a result of their policy on "sexist language", Television New Zealand deliberately omit the fact that she is a woman.

In the case of the "gunman", it is certainly factual to say that a person who carried out a certain act did so with a gun, and was also a man. The point is, was is so relevant to point out that he was a man that it had to override the provisions against sexual discrimination in the Code ? I refer you to the States Services Commission booklet "Watch Your Language", page 4.

Why, by contrast, is it so irrelevant in the case of actresses to point out that they are female? Why must they be referred to as "actors", when a large part of any actor's or actress's appeal is in fact ³sex± appeal ? Indeed, I find it offensive to hear attractive actresses referred to by Television New Zealand as "actors", which is a term properly referring to males.

In any case, Television New Zealand's policy on sexist language must be made consistent and fair between the sexes, and not remain biased against men, as it is at present.

Sincerely,

Peter Zohrab.

 

Letter No. 2

 

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