BBC’s embarrassing “100 Women” series

bbc-lite[Update: In the last couple of days, BBC has started to publish more articles on this topic, so there is now a “100 Women 2016” series.  They are more topic-focused than BLP-focused, so anyone who wants to use them to write BLPs will probably be disappointed. If anyone wants to take a look, they can be found by using “BBC 100 women” as a search term.]

A few days ago I noticed a new BBC feature, the “100 Women” series, and hoped it might bring some more notable women out of obscurity by actually noting them in a respected published media source.  The series so far is, quite frankly,  a sad piece of fluff.  That is all the more disappointing because Wikimedia UK is planning to partner with the BBC for some editing events in a WikiProject.

My advice?  Skip this lightweight fare and go read the chilling BBC series on international revenge porn at “Sex, honour, shame and blackmail in an online world“.  That one doesn’t carry a byline either, but probably for a very different reason.

So, the series is introduced at “BBC 100 Women 2016: Who is on the list?” First off, you notice the format is not the usual dignified BBC news format, like the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award, but is more like an infomercial. Because if it’s about women, you have to dumb things down, right?  There is a grid of women’s photos, but their names are not listed in print anywhere, and presumably therefore not indexed, and will not come up in a google search–you have to mouse over each photo to see the name.  Then, as you scroll down, an annoying popup with the photo of the first article stalks your mouse movements.

But that’s not the worst of it.  In order to navigate the series, you’re supposed to choose your emotion from a category.  I kid you not.  The emotions you are allowed to have are “creative” “defiant”, “influential”, “pioneering” or “resilient”.  My default emotion, “inject coffee now”, is conspicuously absent from the list.


In case anyone thinks the BBC’s emphasis on emoting is something unusual here, see description of pop star Selena Gomez’s “emotional speech”, and Prince’s sister Tyka Nelson’s “emotional interlude”, while the (male) cast member of Broadway musical Hamilton are described as having made a duly dignified “impassioned” speech. See also Mark Savage’s coverage of Kanye West’s speech at his tour, where he “embarked on a rant” and “voiced frustration”, when he announced his support for Donald Trump and canceled the remainder of the concert. The BBC merely reinforces the notion that women are supposed to be “hysterical”, a word derived from the Latin word for womb.

So, how are these women presented to the reading public?  What does BBC consider to be important about a woman’s life?  The pop-up infomercial gives each woman’s “country of birth”, “job” (not career), “age” (not DOB, which would help in filling in a Wikipedia entry), and a one-sentence profile, which they term a “biog”.  Then they give a brief, out-of-context quotation, suitable for an inspirational poster.

A lot of women would give their eye teeth to keep their age secret, but BBC has gone out of its way to find out each woman’s age and post it front and center.  Way to go, BBC.

No byline on this piece.  Well I wouldn’t put my name on it either.

And the photos?  All credited, and none open source, so you can’t upload them and use them on a Wikipedia article.

Mao Kobayashi, 2005.

So where are the articles then?  I can only find one, “100 Women 2016: Kokoro – the cancer blog gripping Japan“, and it’s not linked to the main “100 Women” article. It’s about a blog started in Japan by Mao Kobayashim who used to be a “newsreader”, whatever that is. There is a Wikipedia article about her at Mao Kobayashi (actress), which also describes her as a former newscaster and former weathercaster.  Other sources refer to her as a “TV personality”, and there seem to be plenty of internet images of her posing in a bikini.  The Wikipedia article was just updated yesterday with information about her illness (breast cancer) and the name of her blog, citing the BBC article.  Why the article is not titled “Mao Kobayashi” is anyone’s guess–there’s only one person with that name–but since it’s a woman’s BLP, it’s probably not that surprising that no one has bothered to wikify the article.  FWIW, the Japanese language article seems to have been quite attentively curated in the past, with twelve sections, and seven subsections.

Want a list of all the women’s names, without having to mouse over all the pictures?  There is an obscure Wikipedia article at 100 Women (BBC). Since the article history function does not reflect the current status of any red links, here are the blue links as of Nov. 26, 2016, or you can probably just mouse over the link, as the editing software seems to be generating a “page does not exist” label for the red links. The 43 women on this list who currently have articles are:

#1, 9, 12, 14, 16, 19, 28, 30, 31, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 40, 41, 42, 43, 45, 46, 47, 52, 53, 57, 59, 61, 64, 65, 73, 75, 76, 77, 80, 84, 85, 86, 89, 92, 93, 95, 96, 99, 100.

The 2016 list in alphabetical order:

  1. Alicia Keys, US singer-songwriter
  2. Aline Mukovi Neema, Congolese activist
  3. Amna Suleiman, Gaza protester
  4. Amy Roko, Saudi comedian
  5. Asel Sadyrova, Kyrgyz archer
  6. Ashwaq Moharram, Yemeni doctor
  7. Babs Forman, UK make-up artist
  8. Becci Wain, UK former self-harmer
  9. Carmen Aristegui, Mexican journalist
  10. Carolina de Oliveira, Syrian mental health activist
  11. Cat Hulbert, American professional gambler
  12. Chan Yuen-ting, Hong Kong football manager
  13. Chanira Bajracharya, Nepalese former “living goddess”
  14. Churan Zheng, Chinese women’s rights activist
  15. Cindy Meston, Canadian clinical psychology professor
  16. Conchi Reyes Rios, Spanish bullfighter
  17. Corinne Maier, controversial French writer
  18. Dalia Sabri, Jordanian blind music teacher
  19. Denise Ho, Hong Kong pop icon
  20. Doaa el-Adl, Egyptian cartoonist
  21. Dwi Handa, Indonesian fashion star
  22. Egge Kande, Senegalese community leader
  23. Ellinah Ntombi Wamukoya, Swaziland bishop
  24. Erin McKenney, American science award winner
  25. Erin Sweeny, Australian rape psychologist
  26. Evelyn Miralles, Venezuelan Nasa engineer
  27. Funke-Bucknor Obruthe, Nigerian wedding planner
  28. Gcina Mhlope, South African storyteller
  29. Gouri Chindarkar, Indian computer engineering student
  30. Heather Rabbatts, Jamaican businesswoman
  31. Heloise Letissier, French gender-bending popstar
  32. Ieshia Evans, black American protester
  33. Isabella Springmuhl Tejada, Guatemalan fashion designer
  34. Iskra Lawrence, British model
  35. Jamilah Lemieux, American cultural commentator
  36. Jane Elliott, American anti-racism activist
  37. Janet Ni Shuilleabhain, Irish abortion rights campaigner
  38. Jeanette Winterson, British novelist
  39. Judi Aubel, American social entrepreneur
  40. June Eric-Udorie, Irish student activist
  41. Karima Baloch, Pakistani independence campaigner
  42. Kartika Jahja, Indonesian gender-equality singer
  43. Katherine Johnson, American space scientist
  44. Kathy Murray, American “surrendered wife”
  45. Khadijia Ismailova, Azerbaijani journalist
  46. Lhakpa Sherpa, Nepalese mountaineer
  47. Liliane Landor, Lebanese BBC journalist
  48. Liv Little, British magazine editor
  49. Lois Strong, American cheerleader
  50. Lubna Tahtamouni, Jordanian science campaigner
  51. Lucy Finch, Malawi hospice founder
  52. Mallika Srinivasan, Indian tractor manufacturer
  53. Mao Kobayashi, Japanese cancer blogger
  54. Mariana Costa, Peruvian businesswoman
  55. Marne Levine, American COO of Instagram
  56. Marta Sanchez Soler, Mexican sociologist
  57. Marta Vieira da Silva, Brazilian footballer
  58. ‘Mary’, Kenyan survivor of al-Shabab abduction rape
  59. Mary Akrami, Afghan refuge founder
  60. Megan Beveridge, Scottish piper
  61. Mercedes Doretti, Argentine forensic anthropologist
  62. Morena Herrera, Savadorian abortion activist
  63. Nadia Khiari, Tunisian cartoonist
  64. Nadiya Hussain, British “Bake Off” winner
  65. Naema Ahmed, Pakistani start-up manager
  66. Nagira Sabashova, Kyrgyz wrestler
  67. Natalia Ponce de Leon, Colombian acid attack victim
  68. Nay el-Rahi, Lebanese harassment tracker
  69. Neha Singh, Indian public space campaigner
  70. Omotade Alalade, Nigerian infertility foundation creator
  71. Ou Xiaobai, Chinese app developer
  72. Pashtun Rahmat, Afghan police officer
  73. Paula Hawkins, Zimbabwean thriller writer
  74. Prathiba Parmar, Kenyan film maker
  75. Rachida Dati, French politician
  76. Rakefet Russak-Aminoach, Israeli banker
  77. Rebecca Walker, American writer and activist
  78. Reham el-Hour, Moroccan cartoonist
  79. Renee Rabinowitz, Belgian lawyer
  80. Saalumarada Thimmakka, Indian environmentalist
  81. Seyhan Arman, Turkish trans activist
  82. Sherin Khankan, Danish iman
  83. Shirin Gerami, Iranian triathlete
  84. Shriti Vadera, Ugandan banker
  85. Sian Williams, Welsh rugby player
  86. Simone Biles, American Olympic gymnast
  87. Stephanie Harvey, Canadian e-gamer
  88. Stephanie Yim Bell, American wrestler
  89. Sunny Leone, Canadian actress
  90. Traci Houpapa, New Zealand company director
  91. Um-Yehia, Syrian nurse
  92. Viktoria Modesta, Latvian ionic pop artist
  93. Winnie Harlow, Canadian model
  94. Yasmine Mustafa, Kuwaiti entrepreneur
  95. Yuliya Stepanova, whistle-blowing Russian athlete
  96. Zoleka Mandela, South African writer
  97. Zulaikha Patel, South African schoolgirl
  98. Tess Asplund, Colombian anti-fascism activist
  99. Thuli Madonsela, South African advocate
  100. Maria Zakharova, Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman



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