Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Gender and The Today Show

Some days, after the kids have had breakfast and potty breaks/diaper changes have been given, they run off and play (and by play I mean tear apart their bedroom and hide under pillows) and I have a moment of adult time. I was drinking my coffee, watching The Today Show, and I saw something that raised my heckles. Most of their stories I take with a grain of salt, as the show skews more towards fluffy news pieces and frequent weather updates. I can leave it on as I put away laundry or do the dishes, and if I miss something it’s no big deal- every 30 seconds there’s something new on the screen.
This morning they decided to do an investigative report where they had a couple of young looking adults stand outside a liquor store and ask people going in to buy them a 6-pack. And the conclusion this hard-hitting investigation found? No men bought these young adults alcohol- only women. They went further to chase these women down and speak to them about why they did it. One woman said guilt. Another was so angry she wouldn’t even speak. The story showed 3 woman buying beer. And it showed a few women rejecting the request, and even more men saying no. Then they spoke with some spokeswoman for Mothers Against Drunk Driving who was aghast at the results of the investigation.

Here’s where I became livid- and maybe it’s just me, having taken classes that focus in on how to properly conduct a study and what factors are important in a proper study. What are the facts for this study? How many people did they ask? To make such a grand statement about no men buying booze and women being complicit, what are the numbers to back it up? How many people were asked to buy booze? How many men versus how many women? What time of day did you conduct this research? None of the individuals shown on tv looked like business professionals- it appeared that they had stationed themselves at a liquor store during the weekday. What type of people would you say would frequent a liquor store during midday? To me, this appeared almost as a sting or entrapment of sorts. Perhaps this was the only market that produced people consenting to buy alcohol. But wouldn’t that make a better story? “We stationed ourselves at 3 other liquor stores and no one would buy our young actors beer until we went into the poorer community or went during the day”? No? Because that’s classist and profiling.
I just wish The Today Show would have said exactly how many people they asked to buy beer and how many women total actually purchased beer, where they were stationed and what time of day. Instead, I am left with a bad taste in my mouth about the generalizations made about my gender. 

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