Can a show be diverse and inclusive if it doesn’t have a single woman involved in it? The ABC says it can. 

Can a show be diverse and inclusive if it doesn’t have a single woman involved in it? The ABC says it can. 

In February 2021 the ABC issued its first Commissioning for Diversity and Inclusion Guidelines for independent producers wanting to get their shows onto the ABC. The Guidelines are designed to ‘address under-representation’ (p2) and identify ‘five key areas of representation’ (p4) but – here’s the thing – women aren’t one of them!! 

Spot the Difference

Notice any difference between Number 1 and the next 4? Numbers 2-5 actually are groups of people who are/have been under-represented on-screen and in production roles.

Number 1 isn’t.

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When we get to the detail on pages 7-8, we see there’s no need to include even a single woman in a production either on or off screen, provided 50% of cast and crew are ‘gender diverse’. 

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What’s ‘gender diverse’?

The Guidelines document doesn’t say (!?!) but an associated document does. This is from page 5 of the diversity portrayal form independent producers are expected to fill in to demonstrate they’re complying with the guidelines:

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Goodbye Bechdel Test

So in theory a program could have 100% male cast, creatives, decision-makers, and crew, as long as 50% of them ‘identify’ as, say, ‘gender questioning’. Goodbye Bechdel Test (which asks whether a work features at least two women who talk to each other about something other than a man). Goodbye equality for women. 

Can having a straight male star in your show help you meet the ABC’s ‘gender’ diversity and inclusion requirements? Sure thing! Going the rounds of lesbian communities at the moment is this call for a forthcoming ABC program:

Calling all Straight Males

In fact, double whammy here! The producers of this series, by featuring a straight male, have got a main cast member who identifies as the ‘T’ in LGBTQI+ AND fits the definition of ‘gender diverse’. That means the rest of the cast could (also?) be straight white able-bodied males and the program would still meet the Guidelines. 

Getting the Gold Star

Broadcasting programs with 50% of the cast being males who ‘identify’ as something else might help get the ABC gold status with the gender-ideology fanatics at ACON (Australia’s Stonewall) but it won’t help Aunty achieve its avowed goal of ‘looking and sounding like contemporary Australia’. Wake up, ABC, and come back to the real community you’re supposed to be reflecting and representing, where 50.7% of us are WOMEN, and have been under-represented for yonks both on and off screen.