A $1000 Question for Jeopardy: What is Sexist?



If you’re one of the 9 million fans of JEOPARDY, then you might have caught Monday’s episode where one of the categories has women everywhere asking the games execs: What the hell were you thinking?

The brouhaha is over a category called WHAT WOMEN WANT, which had five stupid answers to five stupid questions. According to JEOPARDY, while men are out in the real world striving for success, we women are a simple lot who only want little pleasures life has to offer. Here’s a sampling:


$200. A pair of jeans that fit well, like the 525s from this brand. (Answer: What is Levi’s?)

$400. A few moments of quiet to do this, especially the one edited by Will Shortz of The New York Times. (Answer: What is a crossword puzzle?)

$600. Some help around the house; I mean would it kill you to get out the Bissell Bagless Canister one of these every once in a while? (Answer: What is a vacuum cleaner?)

This silly and sexist category was an idiotic generalization of womankind, as if we’re all the same, like a basket of kittens, and our gender comes with instructions: “If you want your woman to be happy just give her food, shiny objects to play with and a pat on the head once in a while.”

What adds a real sting to this TV boo-boo is that JEOPARDY should have had a “What Men Want” category to balance the scales of stupidity:


$200. A blonde one of these, especially with big hooters. (What is a girlfriend?)

$400. A bucket of this poured over a basket of nachos. (What is cheese?)

$1,000. A TV channel that shows these movies 24/7. (What is porn?)

JEOPARDY is a smart show, so it’s surprising the writers would make such a blooper, but it seems this isn’t the first time JEOPARDY has been in hot water for revealing a sexist bent. The show’s writers are mostly male – which could explain their lack of awareness with the What Women Want category – and even host Alex Trebek has said some silly sexist things on air. In March, he appeared on Fox News and painted women as cautious money-managers who would rather hold onto what they have then take a risk, while men are gregarious gamblers with an all or nothing attitude.

“Women contestants, when it comes to a Daily Double, seem to want to wager [less] because they figure, ‘Oh, this is the household money, this is the grocery money, the rent money,’” Trebek said. “Guys say, ‘Wait a minute, I’m playing with the house money. I’m not taking any money home unless I win the game, so I can go whole hog on this wager.’ Women are more cautious in that regard.”

Oh brother.

The only good thing that came from this JEOPARDY idiocy, so far, is that it proves women of all ages, not just the old gray-haired liberals, have become watchdogs when it comes to sexism in the media. As soon as the show aired, women everywhere were blogging their indignation and sending Tweets like these: “Hey @Jeopardy, that “What Women Want” category was straight up sexist. A vacuum? Tea? Really? How about equal pay instead.” And another: “#whatwomenwant. What is equal pay? What is the right to make my own health decisions? What is treated like a human? @Jeopardy.”

Let’s hope the show’s writers take the backlash seriously and monitor themselves a tad better when it comes to being flippant in their Q&A format. After all, we JEOPARDY fans are not only loyal, we’re smart enough to know:

The concept of freeing women from the sex discrimination and injustices that have existed throughout historical and modern societies.

Answer: What is women’s liberation?


About Sally Deering

Sally Deering is an award-winning reporter, columnist and playwright whose plays and musicals have been produced in New York and Chicago. She writes features and blogs for the web and recently completed her second book, a crime noir mystery. Sally lives right outside New York City. Contact her at: SallyDeer@aol.com
Posted in: Society