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Just in case you thought 2017 couldn’t possibly get any worse, Alex Trebek is now in trouble with the internet. During an opening segment for Jeopardy!, Trebek asked a question to a former female Army master sergeant that’s been deemed sexist.
While introducing contestant Lisa Beth Davis to the audience, Trebek brought up her military service. And particularly, he argued that it must be difficult for a woman to serve as an Army master sergeant because master sergeants have to give orders.
“That must be really tough for a woman because a master sergeant is giving orders most of the time,” Trebek said during the Jeopardy! introduction. “How was it for you?”
“I’m pretty bossy,” Davis replied. “I’m the oldest, so I know how to tell people what to do.”
Trebek’s comments might not sound sexist at first, almost as if he’s acknowledging the fact that female socialization prevents men from taking women leaders seriously. But it seems Trebek is making another point: That women inherently struggle in leadership roles because they can’t give out orders, and that she inherently had to learn how to become a leader through practice.
And that point is pretty misogynistic. It assumes most women live passive lives and largely defer to men for leadership. Suffice to say, Twitter users are upset with Trebek, pointing out that Jeopardy! has some hard work to do in treating its female contestants a bit more respectfully.
Alex Trebek just said to a female retired USMC master sergeant contestant “Was that hard for you to give orders all the time, since you’re a woman?”
That is some really bold sexism, especially directed at a former US military officer. #Jeopardy
— Charlie Fook (@CharlieFook) December 20, 2017
— Harmony Lloyd (@harmonymist) December 20, 2017
— Isabel Armour-Garb (@iArmourGarb) December 21, 2017
@Jeopardy I assume #alextrebek will be apologizing to #lisabeth for that beyond sexist and rude comment about it being difficult for a woman to give orders! This show is pre-recorded – surprised they let that comment through. #truecolours Come on #Jeopardy
— Say Mwah (@justa_girl_TO) December 20, 2017
And some tweets just aren’t aging well in light of the controversy.
I know 2017 has been a tough year for women so let me try to make up it to you all w/ this image of Alex Trebek on Celebrity Bowling in 1973. pic.twitter.com/I5Bs5My0Ze
— Ken Jennings (@KenJennings) December 18, 2017
Sorry Ken Jennings, but that photo is not making up 2017 for most women.
Looks like Alex Trebek’s career
— michelle strom (@michellerstrom) December 20, 2017
Hey @Jeopardy what is the command that should be made of Alex Trebek? How about an apology to all the women he insulted tonight by inferring that it must be difficult to command as a woman. #2017yearofthewoman
— W C Henning (@Simplywandarful) December 20, 2017
when Alex Trebek tells an Army Captain her job must be “hard for a woman” pic.twitter.com/dTs7naERvH
— Rachel (@rachwurm) December 20, 2017
This isn’t the first time the iconic Jeopardy! host found himself in hot water over his views on women. Trebek was previously criticized for some incredibly sexist answers under a category called “What Women Want,” which included things like “a vacuum cleaner.” And Salon reports that back in 2010, Trebek argued women don’t play Jeopardy! very well because they focus too much on their family’s money.
Trebek may be a lovable host, but when it comes to women, he’s not exactly a feminist.
H/T Page Six
Ana Valens is an LGBTQ reporter and essayist for the Daily Dot. Her work has previously appeared in Bitch, the Establishment, Vice's Waypoint, Rolling Stone's Glixel, and the Toast. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.