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Critics Of Georgian Game Show Question Thinking Behind 'Women's Logic'

The host and male contestants gang up on seemingly suspecting women respondents in Georgian Imedi TV's new game show "Women's Logic."
The host and male contestants gang up on seemingly suspecting women respondents in Georgian Imedi TV's new game show "Women's Logic."
Quick! Is the measure of a woman down to how she looks, or what she knows?

That's the question being raised by "Women's Logic," a controversial new quiz show in Georgia whose entertainment value rests on watching skimpily clad young women wrestle with basic trivia as male contestants try to anticipate the outcome.

If you understand Georgian, you can watch a whole episode of "Women's Logic" here.

If you don't speak the language, you can probably get the gist from this excerpt taken from one recent edition of the show, which typically introduced the female contestants like this:

Presenter: Let's introduce your girls to you.
Man No. 1: Yes, of course.
Girl No. 1: Hello everyone, I'm Maka Macharashvili, a ballerina by profession. I very much like to sing -- but sadly, I don't have a talent for it, and so I can't sing.
Girl No. 2: Hello, I'm Alina, an economist by profession. I like to paint and I dislike chemistry. [Audience applauds]
Presenter: Do you think these girls will know how many kilos are in 2 tons? [Audience laughs]
Man No. 1: What did one of them say? That she dislikes chemistry?
Presenter: Yes, but as I remember one of them was an economist.
Man No. 2: Tons and kilograms are a [complicated] topic for a ballerina.

In format, the game resembles Western-style quiz shows like "Are You Smarter than a 5th-Grader?" which test the common knowledge of ordinary adults, usually with abysmal results.

But "Women's Logic," which debuted in Georgia in March, is unique in selectively poking fun at a single gender, with random questions on everything from the length of a penalty shot in soccer to whether Lenin was a victim of the Inquisition.

WATCH: Female contestants weigh in on Lenin and the Inquisition

The show -- whose female contestants are heavily made up and pose perkily on a glossy white sofa with glasses of champagne -- quickly raised a cloud of protest from Georgians who say the show is violating codes of broadcast conduct by promoting intolerance and gender discrimination.

Tamar Sabedashvili, a gender expert with UN Women, says the show has dealt a setback to Georgian women by portraying them as objects of pleasure who are incapable of sound judgment.

"The problem with the show is that it's set up so that it does harm only to the women involved. The men who play aren't asked questions in any way. Only the women are put in this position," Sabedashvili says.

"If this show was about knowledge or intellectual capacity of people [overall], you could have a group of men or a group of women knowing or not knowing certain things, and then it wouldn't be a problem to have a competition or a quiz. But this is not the case, unfortunately."

Slow To Change

Many Georgian women say they have long been constrained by traditional standards in a society that prizes beauty, modesty, and motherhood above other female attributes.

Although Georgia is seen by independent observers as more egalitarian than its regional neighbors Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Turkey, domestic violence, workplace harassment, and uneven hiring practices continue to plague the country's women.

"Women's Logic" respondents take on questions about history, math, science, and anything else that can get them into trouble.
"Women's Logic" respondents take on questions about history, math, science, and anything else that can get them into trouble.

President Mikheil Saakashvili, a self-professed admirer of women, has attempted to address the problem, ushering a number of female candidates into high-ranking posts, including Economy Minister Vera Kobalia.

But critics say such appointments are mere window dressing. Kobalia, a striking brunette with bright blue eyes, was hired at the tender age of 28 and had worked mainly at her father's Canada-based bakery chain before entering Georgian politics.

Nearly a decade after Saakashvili's Rose Revolution, women like Teo Khatiashvili, a film and theater expert who has publicly criticized "Women's Logic," say little has been done to modernize the status of Georgia's women.

"A majority of Georgian men still see women as a doll who has to be pleasing to the eye and creates a cozy feel in the household," Khatiashvili says.

"Anything beyond this -- that a woman might be doing intellectual work, be fulfilled professionally and so on -- is still seen as less important."

Taboo Treatment

"Women's Logic," which is based on a Dutch program, has analogues in a number of countries, including Ukraine, and a show with a similar format, whose title translates roughly as "Crazily Pretty," recently made headlines when it featured teenaged twin sisters who claimed not to know what the Holocaust was.

All the shows have earned their share of public criticism. But "Logic's" Georgian broadcaster, the privately owned Imedi TV, has refused to give in to public pressure, arguing somewhat implausibly that the show treats both sexes to an equal amount of good-natured teasing.

It's not the first time that Imedi has ventured into gender politics. A short-lived program introduced in 2011 promised frank talk about sex from Georgian Playboy playmate Shorena Begashvili but quickly proved too spicy for some.

More recently, an Imedi talk show called "100 Degrees Celsius" has generated controversy by thrusting gays, emo teenagers, and transgender guests into humiliating and often combative discussions on air.

Imedi, which infamously broadcast fake reports of a Russian invasion of Georgia in 2010, has defended its programming as an opportunity to talk about long-taboo subjects like sex and gay rights.

But women like Khatiashvili -- who says she was "appalled" when she first watched "Women's Logic" -- aren't likely to agree.

"This isn't unusual for Georgian media and television," she says. "Women's issues, and all problematic issues, are often discussed in a very superficial and frivolous manner."

With contributions from Salome Asatiani of RFE/RL's Georgian Service

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