The BBC has released its list of female “Faces of the Year 2011.” For January, we have Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. March has Eman al-Obeidi, who was captured on film in Tripoli making frantic accusations of rape and assault against members of former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi’s militia. But what’s that fuzzy black and white muzzle there for December? Why, that’s Sweetie, a damn panda.
Sweetie is half of a pair of panda bears (the other, a male that did not appear on the Faces of the Year 2011 for men list, is named Sunshine) that will be on loan to a zoo in Scotland for the next decade.
Foreign Policy‘s blog notes the outrage that the selection has caused, fueling a Twitter hashtag #pandagate, prompting members of the media to point out the gender issues this selection raises, and prompted a parody Twitter feed. The controversy also comes shortly after the news organization failed to nominate a woman for Sports Personality of the Year.
“For a number of people, the BBC’s decision to include Sweetie smacks of sexism,” the blog says. To be sure, the BBC isn’t helping its case with tweets like the one after the jump.
The freelancer whose name appears with the list, Bob Chaundy, told The Guardian, that it was meant to be an “eclectic” and “light-hearted” choice.
However, Labour MP Stella Creasy gets it when she says, “Whilst we all love a good panda story, in a year when Christine Lagarde became head of the IMF, or Helle Thorning-Schmidt became prime minister of Denmark or even the sad death of Amy Winehouse, its frustrating the BBC couldn’t think of 12 human female faces who have made the news this year.”