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Monday 11 December 2017

The Week in Radio: A vox-pop with just a whiff of misogyny

A recent survey found that four-fifths of women don't shower every day
A recent survey found that four-fifths of women don't shower every day

Without a steady stream of authors lined up to eagerly pimp their books (for free), and without ludicrous surveys that have just (ahem) ‘discovered’ something mildly contentious or very mildly amusing, would Newstalk even exist?

Well, yes, it probably would. But there’d be rather less of it. A couple of hours a day, maybe, and then Off the Ball repeats ‘til bedtime.

The Moncrieff show might, under such hypothetical conditions, suffer more than most. But luckily for it, if not for us, the supplies of such things appear to be endless. Monday’s show featured a typical mix.

Moncrieff warmed up by interviewing some book-pimping dude whose flying-in-the-face-of-common-sense thesis was, basically, that too much choice can sometimes be a bad thing (flying-in-the-face-of-common-sense theses are much loved on Moncrieff).

Highlights were few. Actually, highlights were one. Namely when Moncrieff got to ask the question, “Is it true that nobody’s been able to actually replicate that jam study?” Hey, it kept me amused. For about 2 1/2 seconds.

That was 2 1/2 more seconds of entertainment than Henry McKean’s vox-popping provided. “A new survey claims to have discovered...” was how Moncrieff kicked off his introduction to the piece. Ominous words that invited anyone with a lick of sense to follow Newstalk’s quaintly anachronistic mantra and “Move the Dial”. I left the dial where it was. It’s my job. I had no choice. Also, I don’t have a dial.

Anyway, the shocking thing that this “new survey” (conducted by some cosmetics company or other) apparently “discovered” was that four out of five women “don’t shower every day”. I know, I know. Outrageous. Disgusting. Off went Henry McKean to ‘investigate.’

“Is it laziness that women don’t wash every day?” McKean asked of a passer-by. “Is it laziness that women don’t wash as regularly as we might think?” he asked another. “Is it good that...a girl walks into the office and she has a unique smell?” he asked passer-by #1, thereby comfortably securing the ‘Creepiest Question of the Week’ award.

The piece did prove one thing. Radio (and, indeed, TV) can always find novel ways to make women feel ever more sh*t about themselves and their bodies. Boo, stinky women! Boo! Look at the state of ye! Shame! Shame!

We even had to listen to one guy “mansplain” why women must not choose “the easy way out” by attempting to disguise their natural smells with “perfumes and deodorants”. “It’s not a good idea,” he tut-tutted. “The odour will come through...no perfume is...strong enough.”

And on the thing went. Its subtext bellowing “Sort yourselves out, ladies!” as the stench of thinly-disguised misogyny oozed into the room. One bad smell that’s not, alas, easily neutralised.

A quick mention for Life Matters, a new Radio 1 series in which hosts Sean Duke and Colette Kinsella promise to “examine the rights and wrongs of life in the 21st century.” This week’s programme – which focused on forgiveness – featured interesting and occasionally eye-opening contributions from people who’d lost family members to terrorist attacks.

The inclusion of some more secular perspectives would have been welcome, as Christian notions of forgiveness dominated.

But the show is only two weeks old. So it’s forgiveable.

Moncrieff Newstalk, Weekdays

Life Matters, RTE Radio1

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