Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Rockford's Q98.5 plays sexism, country music

I walked into the house today, and my mom was listening to a country station (Rockford's Country - Q98.5). She never does this, so I asked her about it. She said she had been trying to win something off the radio. A little later, I hear the DJ, Mark Charvat, say that it is a fact that women live longer than men. He proceeded to give some "reasons" that this might be true, and he encouraged listeners to call in with "reasons" of their own.

Mark's list, that I'm sure he did not come up with (these are close to, but not verbatim):

- If a woman has a crappy job and low pay, it's exploitation. If a man has a crappy job and low pay, he needs to get off his butt and work harder.
- If a man is promoted before a woman, it's obviously favoritism.
- If a man cries, he's a wimp. If he doesn't cry, he's an insensitive S.O.B.
- If a man buys a woman flowers, he's after something. If he doesn't, he's not thoughtful.
- If a woman has a headache, she's tired. If a man has a headache, he doesn't love her anymore.

I was first struck by the heavy sexist overtones of this segment, during which many people called in. Many of his "reasons" had absolutely nothing to do with living longer. Looks like it was just a thinly veiled attempt to throw some sexism out into the airwaves.

Notice how all the "reasons" listed by Mark portray a stereotypical woman who wants more money for less work, who complains when men do better than her, who strongly desires to be showered in gifts, and who uses physical pain as an excuse. And somehow, the use of this stereotype is supposed to make me feel bad for men? Sorry, Mark. Denying that women face injustice in this society is not funny. Especially when you try to spin it to make those who actually have the majority of the power (men) out to be the real victims.

Even better, after listening for a while, I finally got fed up and decided to call the radio station to let Mark Charvat know how I felt about his lack of taste. That was one of the most infuriating phone calls I have ever taken part in. The phone rang for a while, and when Mark answered, he said something along the lines of "Women live longer than men, but you know that, right?" I said no, I didn't, and that I found his segment to be in very poor taste. Without missing a beat, he told me that it was just a joke and that women were calling in as well. In vain I tried to explain that sexism is a very real problem for women, and that making light of it by joking about it only helps to further the problem by stripping it of its validity. Especially when it is done on the radio where countless people can listen in. But Mark Charvat probably didn't hear me as I tried to explain that, because he refused to let me speak in peace. He continued to try to talk over me the entire time until I finally got fed up with him not taking my concerns seriously and hung up.

"Jokes" like this are not funny. They only function as a distraction so that we as a society don't have to look our problems in the eye, own up to them, and work toward fixing them. Maybe if people were more considerate and actually listened when people voiced their concerns, I wouldn't be writing this post right now.

If this bothers you as much as it bothers me, follow the links at the top and tell the station how you feel.

EDIT: I was thinking about this, and I realized that I didn't address one thing that I'd like to say. Gender roles and expectations affect men, too. When Mark said If a man cries, he's a wimp. If he doesn't cry, he's an insensitive S.O.B., he did touch on (however accidentally) a real problem that men face within the limits of what is expected from their gender. But joking about it? Please. That's not going to solve anything.


Anonymous said...

It annoys the hell out of me when people won't listen to what you're saying just because they think they're more important or can never be wrong. Having different views on things is fine but if they're unwilling to listen to what other people have to say they're not very intelligent...

Norma Jean Hatfield-McCoy said...

Amelia hon,

I was just lookin over all the reasons callers give for reasons, and I reckon them are all legitimate, hilarious reasons (stereotypes exist for a reason, right?)!
And then it occurred to me: everything you need to know about gender relations, you can learn from sitcoms!
I reckon these fellers at the radio station - around here, too - just realized it sooner than me, cause of that vastly different, almost alien male brain.
The folks on the Louisville station at 98.9 FM realize it, too. In the mornings, their comments closely resemble those funny guys at Q98.5!
Actually, most of the morning shows around here on FM say funny things like that, like "them women sure like to shop", and "men sure do like sex. Too bad women don't!"
I'm just glad they all reinforce long-held gender stereotypes. To me, nothing's funnier than hearing rehashed, oft-repeated, unoriginal jokes about boring topical subjects!
I'm chuckling just thinking about how much men hate asking for directions!

-Norma Jean

Amelia said...

Wow, Norma Jean.

That's all.
Glad to see you read our blog. :)

Lindsay said...

Radio DJs annoy the hell out of me (except the ones with feminist radio shows). They address their remarks to the lowest common denominator and think they're the shit. I'm from Green Bay and last week Brett Favre said something about "itching" to play football. No one would have cared, except the radio djs spent their entire day discussing it and annoying every person in the GB area.

There's probably a complaint section for the station itself, aside from calling the dj. You might want to complain about his remarks there.

FeministGal said...

Amelia, great post, especially from someone familiar with radio and the impact it has on society (did you tell him you work on a radio show as well? maybe it could have gotten you more cred or something... haha). I think what is even more annoying than his sexist comments and tone is the dissmissive nature with which people can talk about this. It makes me FUME when people say things like, "can't you just take a joke?!" No, because although YOU think it's a joke or "funny" it's not and all it does is perpetuate gender stereotypes which are damaging for men AND women. Oh and yes, feminists are incapable of humour...haha :)

And "Amelia, hon" I hope to hell Norma Jean is being ironic, or sarcastic, or something, because i reckon she's completely clueless if she's being serious in her comment... I agree with your reaction, good thing she's here reading your blog ;)

Amelia said...

haha Feministgal, I would have tried to explain to him that I have a radio show, but Mark wouldn't let me speak. So that would have been difficult. And I also get the feeling that he would have dismissed me anyway, because, you know, I don't have a sense of humor.

Norma Jean Hatfield-McCoy said...


darlin, ain't nothing funny about satire.
But them radio fellers sure are hilarious!