A sexist shark…

I enjoy watching ABC’s Shark Tank on Friday evenings.  If you are not familiar with the show here is an excerpt from the ABC website about it:

The Sharks are back to continue their search to invest in the best products and businesses that America has to offer. The critically acclaimed Shark Tank gives budding entrepreneurs the chance to make their dreams come true, and possibly make a business deal that will make them a millionaire. Season Three continues to make TV history, with the Sharks offering over $6.2 million of their own money in investment deals to bankroll a creative array of innovative entrepreneurs.

The panel of five Sharks will hear pitches of the best business and product ideas from some of America’s brightest entrepreneurs, ranging from start-ups from stay-at-home moms and dads, to simple yet brilliant ideas in a wide range of areas including children’s products, music, sports, automotive, and even the nightclub scene.

The sharks are an interesting group and a mixed bag of personalities.  Mark Cuban, the fairly well-known billionaire that owns and is the chairman of HDNet and owns the Dallas Mavericks, is one of the sharks that appears on every episode.  I must say he is one cocky son-of-a-gun – but I guess billionaires have that prerogative.

I enjoy watching the entrepreneurs make their pitches while trying to maneuver in the shark-infested waters.  I can’t help but root for the little guys with the big dreams (and by little guys – I mean the struggling entrepreneurs – as they are not all guys).  Which is the reason I am writing about the Shark Tank today.

Last night on the Shark Tank there was a female entrepreneur named Shelly Ehler.  Shelly, a stay-at-home mom, created a product called the ShowNo.  The sharks showed interest in the product and after giving her some grief they started to ask more meaningful questions.  It was during this period that Cuban put a scenario to Shelly (ostensibly to measure her passion and commitment).  It was that scenario that left me grumbling for the rest of the show.

Cuban asked Shelly what she would do if she had to make a big pitch for the business the same day as her child’s birthday.  He wanted to know if she would forgo the birthday to advance the product.  Shelly said she would forgo the birthday and had a really good nonconfrontational response focused on the family’s commitment to this venture.  I was not so gracious.  I was screaming at Cuban (as if he could hear me) and foaming at the mouth.  I thought that his question was completely sexist.

I have never heard him ask that question of any male entrepreneur.  Do male entrepreneurs love their children less than females?  Do male entrepreneurs have less responsibility for their children?  Do male entrepreneurs gain passion and commitment brownie points for being willing to commit to an important business meeting on their child’s birthday?

His question to Shelly just lit me up.  I don’t care how much money he has – apparently he hasn’t managed to acquire couth or sensibility with any of it.

Shelly ultimately had three sharks who wanted in on her company – Mark Cuban, Daymond John (you may know him for his Fubu clothing line), and Lori Greiner (known as the Queen of QVC).  She went with her heart and chose Greiner as her partner.   Greiner made a very passionate pitch to Shelly about how she saw many similarities between the two of them and she promised to work her magic to make Shelly’s idea take off.

So Cuban didn’t win that round.  I can’t help but wonder if his sexist comment factored into Shelly’s decision.  It sure the heck factored into my decision to put Cuban on the list of blowhard idiots I can do without.  I’ll be curious to hear if the Shark Tank gets any pushback for Cuban’s question to Shelly.  You can bet I’ll be waiting and watching for the day when he presents the same scenario to a male entrepreneur.  I think I’ll likely be waiting a good long time.  God save him if he asks another female entrepreneur the same thing, that will require me to invent a product that puts sexist sharks in their place so that I can personally visit the Shark Tank.  Then we will see how Cuban responds to someone who will happily tell him where to shove his scenario. ;-)

Day nine hundred and fifty of the new forty – obla di obla da

Ms. C

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About Ms. C

I teach at NDSU...but I remain a student of life with all the enthusiasm that entails. My favorite saying is, "Sometimes you have to take the leap and build your wings on the way down." In the new forty that is what I am doing...building my wings.
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6 Responses to A sexist shark…

  1. B Johnson says:

    So….you’re okay with the ‘woman to woman’ act Lori Greiner gave to gain Shelly’s company? It’s okay. Feminists are famous for hypocrisy.

  2. Shelly Ehler says:

    Ms. C
    I just now came across this post when doing a google search on my product. You completely hit the nail on the head!! What Mark said to me would NEVER be said to a man and I’m really suprised that more people weren’t talking about it. Thank you so much for acknowledging that! Lori and I are going to be back on the show May 4th with a follow up package! I hope you can watch!!
    Thanks again!
    Shelly

  3. Elizabeth says:

    Shelly,
    Let it be known that my friends and I were watching that episode and we flipped out when Cuban made that comment. You are not alone. The “woman to woman” act was also patronizing. The whole episode put me in an outrage and I’ve refused to watch it since. I guess the next step would be to write a complaint to the producer/television studio…

  4. Rapunzel says:

    I find it irritating how Barbara–the one woman on the panel–is constantly accusing the other sharks of only being interested in a certain product because the person pitching it is an attractive woman. I’ve been watching these episodes on hulu lately and I’ve seen this three times in the last two days. It’s a disgusting accusation and very offensive. I liked her the best at first, but I she just irritates me now because of how disrespectful she is toward the other sharks; it’s also offensive to all women, everywhere, when she repeatedly uses that comment.

  5. Victoria says:

    I just saw a rerun of this show and was also absolutely outraged! I can’t believe there has not been more commentary.

  6. Victoria says:

    …and while I didn’t find Barbara’s woman to woman pitch offensive – it’s her job to sell an angle, particularly if it has potential merit – I was disappointed that she let that patently sexist comment slide.

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