Friday, June 13, 2008

The Apprentice and gendered discourse

Well, my poor blog has been languishing without update for just too long. Lots of projects on the go but time has equally been on the go, going, gone without me getting back here. But I stopped long enough to watch the final of the UK series of the Apprentice this week, if for no other reason than I had so many students write papers on gendered discourse styles in this programme for my language and gender module!

I couldn't help but notice that in the final scenes where Sir Alan was choosing between the last two finalists some stereotypical gender differences came into play. It seemed ironic to me that Claire, whose talent surely lay in her ability to articulate concepts and sell them to an audience, to me, blew it when it came to the final question 'Why should I give the job to you?'. Her answer 'because I really want it, and I want it more than Lee' was so personalised, emotively charged and - dare I say it - even chaotic? In contrast, Lee's answer was measured, and not focused on what he wanted but on the four areas in which he had demonstrated success - an answer in which he didn't focus on the fact that he wanted the job (although he clearly did). Was this a case of feminine emotion and excess finally losing the game? And when asked why she was not defending herself, Claire simply replied that she was 'not interrupting' - a flaw she had previously been chastised for. Whether or not it had anything to do with the decision that Sir Alan finally reached, it seemed a bit of a case where the woman was damned if she spoke (emotional excess) and damned if she didn't (she wasn't fighting her corner).



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