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Strictly Come Dancing has been accused of sexism for allegedly “predatory” comments made by judges towards male dancers.
The BBC’s primetime dancing show has reportedly received a higher than usual number of viewer complaints this year relating to sexist comments about male contestants, as well as “blasphemous” language and same-sex dancing.
The questionable remarks include judge Craig Revel Horwood telling professional male dancer Gorka Márquez that “it really has made my night seeing you on all fours, darling.”
In another episode judge Shirley Ballas told contestant Uge Monye that in his “pink outfit, you have all the gear, my dear… there is not a part of your body that doesn’t want to move, even if it’s not supposed to, it wants to… And that’s what I like.”
Survivors Manchester, a charity for victims of male sexual abuse, strongly criticised the show for its “harmful” double standards.
Founder and CEO Duncan Craig told The Telegraph that if such remarks were made to a female contestant by a man, “there would be absolute outrage, and quite rightly so.”
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“I think we have to say it’s a double standard and I think it sometimes feels like it’s an uncomfortable thing to say, but the double standard is really harmful,” he said.
He added that there was an element of “acceptability when it comes from a male to a male, or it comes from a female to a male,” and that this needs to be tackled.
“I’d be interested to see what people said if it was a straight male saying it to a male contestant, would they see something different, would they see it as being predatory, or would they say it in the same way as people often present that kind of thing – the camp TV presenter or TV judge saying it,” he continued.
This season Strictly Come Dancing received effusive praise for its first same-sex male dance pairing between John Whaite and Johannes Radebe, who received a standing ovation for their history-making debut.
And last week’s episode opened with an incredible same-sex waltz by the show’s professional dancers, which was so beautiful it moved the audience – and Radebe – to tears.
But the veteran LGBT+ rights campaigner Peter Tatchell suggested Strictly still has work to do, saying that the judges’ “supposedly harmless banter” can sometimes convey “a whiff of sexism and homophobia”.
“Cheap, smutty gags are no substitute for intelligent wit and astute judging of the male dancers,” he told The Telegraph.
“I’m all in favour of free speech, but the sexual objectification and innuendo directed at the Strictly men is tawdry and unnecessary.”
PinkNews reached out to the BBC for comment. A spokesperson confirmed that less than 40 complaints received over the last two episodes were about “sexist comments to male contestants,” and the majority concerned “blasphemous” language.
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