For his next trick, TV personality Bear Grylls plans to strand 12 dudes on a deserted island for a month, as a grand test of modern manhood. But several female survival experts are criticizing the boys' club, suggesting it's stupid and even sexist.
The man of Man vs. Wild fame, Grylls is putting The Island of Lost Blokes (lol) together for the UK's Channel 4, the Independent reports. "I want to find out what happens when you strip people of all the comforts of modern life - does 21st century man still have it in him to fight for his survival?" Grylls waxed philosophical in the program's announcement. Clearly he and Channel 4 are more interested in men specifically than "people" in general, because the cast is all guys.
But women who're just as well-schooled in the art and craft of roughing it are pretty annoyed at the show's all-male casting. "It's fantastical and ridiculous. Women are every bit as cut out for this stuff as men," said Lisa Fenton, a badass who runs a wilderness survival school and is definitely the kind of person you want on your zombie preparedness team. "It is sexism and it's deeply rooted," she added.
Ruth England of the Discovery Channel's Man, Woman, Wild called it "laughable." "Seasoned explorer" (great title, or best title?) Sarah Outen was disappointed, but not surprised:
"It's a pity that Channel 4 have decided to have a male-only show as if somehow suggesting that women couldn't cut it – or, more probably, that women wouldn't make good TV," she said. "But there is such a male-oriented bias with adventure TV programmes already that it doesn't surprise me to see this."
Outen, for the record, recently rowed across the Northern Pacific all by her lonesome.
Channel 4 told the Independent that the point of the series is to "examine modern masculinity and how traditional skills and ideas of manhood have changed over generations." Hence, they asked only men "to be stripped of modern day comforts and their skills put to test." As though that answers the charge!
The problem isn't simply that there's no gender parity. That's annoying enough. But in fact, the show positions survival skills as some inherently (and exclusively) masculine concern, which assumes it's somehow unnatural for women to be competent and capable when dropped into the wilderness.
I'm pretty citified, but I don't think you need a dick to figure out how to make a fire and forage for berries.
Photo via Getty.