"Girls Like Pretty Ponies, And Boys Like Toy Trucks": Fox's Outnumbered Is Absurdly Sexist
Blog ››› ››› HANNAH GROCH-BEGLEY & OLIVIA KITTEL
Fox's newest show, Outnumbered, features a rotating cast of four female hosts, one male host, and a litany of sexist tropes.
The program premiered April 28 with female co-hosts Jedediah Bila, Harris Faulkner, Sandra Smith, Kimberly Guilfoyle and their male co-host of the day Tucker Carlson, who was honored with the Twitter hashtag #ONELUCKYGUY and described by the women as "a good enough sport to join us on day one."
When Fox announced the new show, Amanda Marcotte noted its premise: "The man will be 'outnumbered,' meaning that even though Outnumbered is supposedly a female-centric show, the male point of view is still so central that it gives the show its title." The Washington Post's Alyssa Rosenberg similarly predicted that the program would find its "heat" by highlighting opposition between men and women, essentially parodying "what conservatives often accuse feminists of wanting to do to men: overwhelm them and shout them down as a sort of rhetorical reparations for years in a subordinate position."
These predictions proved accurate. In fact, Outnumbered's set even placed the lone man at the center, surrounded on a couch by the female hosts wearing Fox's famous short skirts. The hosts kicked off the show by indulging the parody that men and women are profoundly opposed to each other, with Carlson joking at the very beginning that he was "in a defensive crouch already," because living with four women had given him experience he needed to "submit" and handle this "outnumbered" position:
The debut episode's first potential "feminist" altercation focused on how a woman's appearance might affect a presidential run, with the hosts contemplating a hypothetical Democratic primary between former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). While Guilfoyle quipped that, when it comes to looks, "I think if it's between Hillary and Elizabeth Warren, it's even," Carlson argued that "it works both ways. I don't think anyone would be standing with Wendy Davis in Texas if she, you know, weren't a handsome woman ... you don't see a lot of bald guys running for president."
Studies have shown discussion of appearance does negatively hurt female candidates -- one study found that any mention of female politicians' appearance, even discussion that was coded as a "compliment," lost the candidate votes. But instead of pointing this out, the female co-hosts quibbled with Carlson's description of a woman as "handsome," asking if he meant "pretty."
Later, while discussing a female teacher recently accused of giving an under-age male high school student a lap-dance, Carlson insisted that not only was the student not a "victim," because "this is the dream of 15-year-old boys," but he also invented a new double standard for victims, claiming that a female student who received a lap dance from a male teacher would be a victim because "girls react differently to this kind of thing, it's just reality." Facing his co-hosts' understandable outrage, Carlson said "lighten up, America, come on," and suggested that the teacher facing charges is "obviously a very enthusiastic teacher."
While the women of Outnumbered sometimes pushed back on Carlson's sexist stances, they also pushed plenty of tired sexist tropes right along with him.
For instance, Guilfoyle previewed a discussion of McDonald's toys (a recent study revealed McDonald's employees refused to give girls the so-called "boy" toy) by claiming "girls like pretty ponies, and boys like toy trucks." Bila threw in that she was "odd" as a child and did not play with Barbies, even though she is "obviously" a female. Though Faulkner noted that she tries to get her two daughters a variety of toys, she concluded: "You want to rule the world, little girls, you've got to know what the guys like."
Fox is notorious for its incredible sexism -- Fox News CEO Roger Ailes even allegedly once offered to increase a female producer's salary in exchange for sex, and became livid after a female host appeared on air wearing pants. The women of Outnumbered seem prepared to fall in step. In addition to the hosts featured today, future hosts include Andrea Tantaros and Katie Pavlich, both of whom have come under fire for slut-shaming and launching sexist attacks on women.
The announcement for the show claimed that the ensemble of four female panelists and one male would allow them to "tackle top new headlines from all angles and perspectives." Rather than presenting "all angles and perspectives," Outnumbered sticks to Fox's favorite tried and true angle -- favoring male perspective while capitalizing on female conflicts.