The Show That Sexism Built: Fox Drops All Pretense With Outnumbered


Fox News' Outnumbered, which features four female anchors and one male guest in an hour-long show, is billed as “a news show first and foremost,” but in its first week the jaw-dropping program has proven to be anything but.

Even before its debut, it was evident that Roger Ailes' brainchild would be incredibly sexist. The name Outnumbered alone announces that the show operates from the perspective of its sole male guest, who must inevitably feel outnumbered in the presence of four female hosts (never mind the fact that many of Fox's current programs, like Fox & Friends or The Five, feature more male hosts than female yet carry no such designation).

Outnumbered likewise doesn't depart from Ailes' trademark exploitation of Fox women -- immediately evident in the no-pants dress code thus far for female anchors, whose legs are on prominent display and nearly always crossed toward the male guest du jour, known to the Twittersphere as #OneLuckyGuy.

Before the program first aired, Jay Wallace, Fox's senior vice president for news, described the show as “a news show first and foremost,” with “journalism at the heart.”

Nearly all of Fox's purported news programs churn with an undercurrent of sexism. But with Outnumbered, the network drops the veil. It's more a parody of a news program, devoting the vast majority of the first week to decidedly non-news, fluff stories that highlight stereotypical altercations or disparities between the sexes. Rather than mention actual news stories that pertain to women's issues -- such as a new White House report on college sexual assault -- Outnumbered relayed George Clooney's groundbreaking recent engagement and a new plastic surgery that will enable women to better wear sky-high heels, stories built around gender stereotypes.

Along with gender stereotypes, Outnumbered's first week pushed a myriad of sexist tropes: 

During a discussion of a female teacher recently accused of giving an under-age male high school student a lap-dance, guest Tucker 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.” 

Highlighting a study that revealed men and women have different views on infidelity, Jedidiah Bila jokingly admitted that she doesn't have to worry about infidelity because she “stamps” her men, to which Carlson added, “That's kind of hot.” Carlson went on to say “men have done a good job building skyscrapers and fighting wars and stuff, but I'm not going to defend them morally.”

The hosts agreed that feminism is to blame for boys underperforming in kindergarten, and previewed a discussion of McDonald's toys (a recent study revealed McDonald's employees refused to give girls the so-called “boy” toy) by arguing, “girls like pretty ponies, and boys like toy trucks.” 

Outnumbered's actual news segments, while few, were nearly as bad. When Harris Faulkner opined on Secretary John Kerry's apartheid remarks regarding Israel and a Middle East Peace agreement, guest host Brian Kilmeade praised her thoughts, “That's so savvy of you.” Faulkner responded, “That's so condescending of you, but I love you anyway.”

A discussion of a hypothetical Democratic primary between former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) in 2016 morphed into a comparison of the women's appearance. 

Outnumbered was also true to its name in that the female hosts frequently deferred to the expert opinions of their male guests before allowing the other co-hosts to add their input.

Despite the show's objective of tackling the “top new headlines from all angles and perspectives,” Outnumbered instead tackles the task of elevating gender-normative fluff pieces, sexist comments, and the figures of its female co-hosts.

Video credit: John Kerr and Coleman Lowndes