“You need to grab your balls and show us what you’re really made of”
This is a quote, a genuine quote from SAS: Who Dares Wins chief military instructor Ant Middleton. It was easily missed during the last episode of Series Three, in fact, it was completely swept under the carpet with disregard for the connotations it carries by having to be a man to succeed in SAS: Who Dares Wins.
There is nothing to imply that Ant is sexist, and that is not the suggestion I am trying to infect you with. The rugged, bearded, bulky, brute of a man is a previous special forces hero. He served in the military from 1997 and is one of few who have achieved a ‘holy trinity’ title after serving in the Royal Marines, Parachute Squadron Royal and Special Boat Service. By nature, Ant Middleton demands respect. And by the same nature, he is excessively masculine.
While women can apply to be in the military group SAS, it is historically renown as a male dominant force. A greater volume of men apply and a higher number of men make the gruelling final selection process, around one in 12 according to the UK Gov website. Ant passed. Of course. I mean look at him, he’s a god.
If we are going to listen to anyones advice when it comes to this insane Royal Marines selection process, we are going to hear out Ant’s thoughts. Fortunately, he spoke about the issue of women in the SAS on ITV chat show Lorraine earlier this year:
“It’s not that I don’t think women could ever join (the SAS).
“I think there’s a process. You have to earn your place on selection.”
Ant is quite right. Only the best of the best of the very best make the SAS. It doesn’t matter whether they are male or female, the selection process remains the same and the worthy winners are only those who merit it. You can’t just put your name into the hat for SAS selection but candidates are selected based on their previous military exploits with groups such as the Army, which are again male dominated. (7,560 females to 76,000 males according to 2017 government statistics).
However, the band wagon Ant is now pulling is very different to the alpha pack of wolves he used to run with. He is not pulling a group of hardened military veterans across the Afghan dessert, shadowing under the raining terror of gunfire. He is leading a group of regular Joes in a TV show full of cameramen, lighting equipment and tea breaks.
At the start of every SAS: Who Dares Wins episode and you would’ve noticed the same voiceover matching varying montages of slow-mo action shots. It says “in this unique version of SAS selection” and adds that “each task is based on the real process.”
We have all been shocked by the severity of the physical and mental tasks in SAS: Who Dares Wins, and it has truly blurred the lines between reality TV and real life terror. People are not voted off or evicted, they simply quit. The pain is real, the sense of danger is real, and even the idea of death is more than believable.
However, it is still a TV show.
Winners of Series Three, recruits numbers 16 and 10, will not be joining the SAS ranks. Despite their hard work, fear-defying conquests and even earning the macho-man respect of Ant Middleton, there’s no guarantee that Jonathan or Matt would pass a real SAS selection process. Hell, as a personal trainer and digital marketing manager, they wouldn’t make the candidate shortlist for SAS selection.
My point is that SAS: Who Dares Wins is not footage of an SAS selection process. It is a TV show for people who believe they could face similar mental and physical tasks. If women want to put themselves forward to feature in such a gruelling reality TV show then there should be nothing stopping them. Not even a chief leaders excessively masculine demeanour.
Speaking to The Express, and when asked if SAS: Who Dares Wins would do an all-female line-up, Ant said:
“No, we’re not.
“There’s no women in the SAS so why would we bring some in? We’re staying true to the process and the organisation.”
Just give it a rest Ant. With the military ranks so male dominant, surely a replica TV show should provide the perfect opportunity to give women a chance. Not to shun them off like a 12-year-old school boy, slapping a “boys only club” poster on their Action Man themed treehouse.
Whether women are directly thrown into the competition amongst the men or given their own SAS: Who Dares Wins spinoff, we don’t really care. We just want to see equality when it comes to something as trivial as a TV show. The ladies want to muck around in the mud as much as the lads Ant, they’re not trying to invade your SAS honour in pink and purple camouflage.