After 11 years of keeping the rules of Vote for the Girls a secret, I have decided to release the moderator/villain rules of Vote for the Girls public. Some of this may be disturbing to some readers, so discretion is advised.
The music entertainment and television news industries appear to appeal to American women nowadays. These industries have a long history of pushing things like makeup, skincare, other products as well as television programs to make them very popular on shows like American Idol, The Voice, Dancing with the Stars (DWTS), So You Think You Can Dance (DWTS), and America’s Got Talent (AGT). In 2015, my program Vote for the Girls, which focuses on female contestants on interactive reality competition shows such as American Idol, The Voice, DWTS, SYTYCD, and AGT, began to use “flexible picks,” or flex picks. Flex picks are defined as a supported male contestant approved by yours truly to allow a female or transgender female moderator on the Pink or Purple Team to vote for the male contestant in addition to the typical female contestants on these aforementioned reality competition shows. Additionally, the male and transgender male villains, known as “Zinn’s Villains,” on the Blue and Red Teams can also use a flex pick to support for a female contestant in addition to the male contestant (“Flexible Picks”).
The flexible picks on Vote for the Girls was the brainchild of Malitia “Thia” Tola, a former moderator on the Thailand version of Vote for the Girls (Vote for the Girls THAI) and the late Holly Everman (1980-2017) after watching the Always #LikeAGirl Super Bowl XLIX commercial. The commercial, directed by Lauren Greenfield and published on the Always YouTube channel on January 29, 2015, makes the claim that “Like A Girl” is an insult and a girl’s confidence plummets during puberty and never fully recovers (“Always #likeagirl”). However, this transgender woman (yours truly) disagrees with Ms. Greenfield because she believes girls can maintain confidence during puberty so they can become powerful women as they grow up. Since viewing the commercial myself back in 2015 during American Idol (if memory serves me correctly), this commercial changed my mind about Vote for the Girls, which launched at 10:00 PM on April 28, 2010 with Crystal Bowersox becoming the first pick. Vote for the Girls has been successful with the victories of Lauren Froderman, Melanie Moore , Eliana Girard, Amy Yakima, Gaby Diaz , and Hannalei Cabanilla in the respective seventh, eighth, ninth, tenth, twelfth, and fifteenth seasons of SYTYCD; Rumer Willis, Bindi Irwin, Laurie Hernandez, and Hannah Brown in the respective 20th, 21st, 23rd, and 28th seasons of DWTS; Candice Glover, Maddie Poppe and Samantha Diaz in the respective 12th, 16th and 18th seasons of American Idol; Cassadee Pope, Danielle Bradbery , Tessanne Chin , Alisan Porter, Chloe Kohanski , Brynn Cartelli, Chevel Shepard, and Maelyn Jarmon in the respective 3rd, 4th, 5th, 10th, 13th, 14th, 15th, and 16th seasons of The Voice; flex pick victories of Nick Fradiani, Trent Harmon, and Jordan Smith in the respective 14th season of American Idol, 15th season of American Idol, and 9th season of The Voice, and Jena Asciutto, the winner of Vote for the Girls: The Greatest of All-Time.
Meanwhile, the #LikeAGirl ad, which aired during the NBC telecast of Super Bowl XLIX on February 1, 2015, opens with a casting audition, with a blonde teenager standing in front of a camera. A message on the screen asked, “What does it mean to do something ‘like a girl’? Lauren Greenfield tells the young woman to show her what it means to run like a girl, at which point the teenager begins to jog in place, flailing her arms haphazardly, squealing, and adjusting her hair. The director asks the same thing of another young woman, a young boy, and a man, all of whom do similar actions. They are all instructed to fight like a girl and throw like a girl. The message, “We asked young girls the same question” appears on the screen. Girls aged ten and younger are shown running furiously in place and around the studio, punching the air with passion, and throwing the imaginary ball far into the distance. The screen shows the question, “When did doing something ‘like a girl’ become an insult?” They are then given a chance to show what “like a girl” really means, which is strong, tough, and passionate (“Always #likeagirl”).
On the contrary, “Like A Girl” is in fact, an empowering phrase because as the founder, creator and host of the popular and controversial web site/program Vote for the Girls with Ava Zinn and Alexandra Moffitt, which is devoted to voting for female contestants on American Idol, The Voice, AGT, SYTYCD, and DWTS. After Tola and Everman watched the commercial one day and during the American Idol season 14 auditions, with my approval and permission due to being the creator of Vote for the Girls, began to test out male “flexible picks” in addition to the female contestants Vote for the Girls encourages fans and viewers to vote for since April 28, 2010. My girlfriend at the time and I picked eventual American Idol season 14 winner Nick Fradiani while the last female contestant named Jax finished in third place. According to the rules of Vote for the Girls prior to the flexible picks rule that debuted, female moderators on the Pink and Purple teams have to vote for female contestants while the male villains, or Zinn’s Villains, on the Blue and Red teams vote for male contestants.
A year earlier, I introduced another element called the “Moderators’ Save.” The Moderator’s Save, an element first used in Italy’s Vota Femminili (Vote for the Girls (Italy)) and Rösta för Flickorna (Vote for the Girls (Sweden)). The moderators were initially given the power to exercise a veto on two regular competitions (one in each cycle) and one make-up competition and spare the site from a Vote for the Girls Loss for that particular competition. This can only be invoked up until the finales of all competitions (initially the semi-finals of The Voice and American Idol in the regular competition or before the finale of SYTYCD, AGT, or DWTS). If the Moderators’ Save is used in a make-up competition, the moderators will not get to choose any Vote for the Girls wild card or flex picks on The Voice nor American Idol because no victory nor loss is declared. The Moderator’s Save can only be used once per cycle and it must be unanimous. Additionally, because no loss is declared if the Moderators’ Save is used to spare the site from a Vote for the Girls Loss in the event should the last remaining female contestant is eliminated, and none of the moderators face a punishment for failure.
The new format change was revealed on September 3, 2014. The first recipient of the Moderators’ Save was Valerie Rockey, which allowed the site to finally declare its first (unofficial) victory of 2014 based on the dual-winner format previously used on the ninth and tenth seasons of SYTYCD. A second recipient was awarded to DaNica Shirey on the seventh season of The Voice on November 25, 2014 and sparing the web site a loss upon Shirey’s elimination on December 2, 2014. A third recipient were awarded to Jax Cole and Nick Fradiani, the latter of which became the first male supported contestant in the web site’s history to reach the fourteenth season finale of American Idol.
In all competitions, viewers of Vote for the Girls are expected to vote only for female contestants (and in later seasons, included male-female duos, predominately and all girl groups since 2011 and approved male contestants since 2015) en masse with the Vote for the Girls moderators and to the high expectations of the host to vote off the male contestants (later non-supported male contestants) chosen by the Pink and/or Purple Teams. The demand that all males be eliminated at the earliest possible without regard to criticism and/or public backlash (meaning that viewers must vote for all remaining female contestants each week), introducing the possibility of an all-female finale, all-female final two, and/or a male-female finale or final two. The host’s goal is to get an all-female final in every competition, but exceptional performances by the male contestants or villain’s pick(s) on the Red and/or Blue Teams will cause the host to end the competition early.
One of the most common complaints I have received about Vote for the Girls since April 28, 2010 is the program promotes misandry—sexism against males—although the purpose of Vote for the Girls is to complete every competition with a Vote for the Girls “victory” when a female contestant wins the reality-based interactive competition, and reward the moderators with a “Reward for Victory”. The reward is a usually with a recreational activity away from the VFTG set or a prize for the Pink and/or Purple Teams while the Red and/or Blue Teams face punishment. However, performances by the male counterparts will cause yours truly to end the competition with a Vote for the Girls “pick eliminated” or end the competition in the event if there are no female contestants left in the competition, and punish the moderator(s) with a “Punishment for Failure”. These punishments are usually doing very tedious tasks or more humiliating (usually cleaning the set and prepping for the next competition, handling the deliveries, such as sorting through the garbage, paying up on friendly wagers, etc.), as well as the a make-up competition (usually SYTYCD and DWTS).
As the creator and executive producer of Vote for the Girls, I have addressed this misandry (sexism) issue in several pre-recorded video clips used on Vote for the Girls by saying, “So many of you say that Vote for the Girls is sexist. So, I am not going to say anything. I’m just going to let the sound effects speak for itself.” Various clips show include Pia Toscano’s elimination in the tenth season of American Idol, Angie Miller finishing in third place on the twelfth season of American Idol, Tate Stevens’ (infamous) X Factor win against a young Carly Rose Sonenclar, the late Christina Grimmie’s (1994-2016) third place finish on the sixth season of The Voice, Ellona Santiago’s shocking elimination on The X Factor in 2013. A second pre-recorded clip used on Vote for the Girls is the host (Ava Zinn) saying, “So a lot of people say that I’m a lesbian for voting for the girls (or female contestants when I post these videos on YouTube)” the clip then shows Jennel Garcia’s elimination, two Scrabble Sprint clips both showing a female contestant defeated, a female contestant landing on the Bankrupt wedge on Wheel of Fortune, etc.
When the Moderators’ Save was introduced in 2015, if fans of the site fail to support a female contestant to the Victory or all female contestants are eliminated before the competition’s finale results with the moderator panel voting unanimously to spare the site a loss by declining the defeat. If the Moderators’ Save is used on a female contestant on American Idol, The Voice, The X Factor, or Rising Star; the site will not declare a loss nor a victory and like any Vote for the Girls Loss, Zinn and the VFTG moderators are forced to support the female contestants in a make-up competition without the moderators facing punishment.
Vote for the Girls is somewhat rare of Idol related websites unlike Vote for the Worst (VFTW) and Vote Against the Producers (VATP), where VFTW (and less frequently VATP) promotes votes for the worst, most entertaining, most hated or quirkiest contestants chosen by a public vote and the moderators only critique about the competition. Ava Zinn describes Vote for the Girls as her philosophy, “Producers Have a Choice, Viewers Don’t. In earlier seasons on Vote for the Girls all decisions and supported contestants fell under one person, Zinn, instead of a majority vote by the contestants and since 2011, fell under various female moderators or male villains. Additionally, Zinn has the power to override the basic format of the program, such as ignoring pick nominations from moderators (later seasons eliminated this aspect, yet since the site’s sixth season SYTYCD and AGT are the only such times), or even opposed to the single winner format used in most reality talent competitions in favor of a dual-winner (one male and one female) used from SYTYCD’s ninth and tenth seasons.
Of course, Vote for the Girls has been one of my most successful programs. After the ninth season of American Idol ended, as Crystal Bowersox did not win, the moderators at the time, the late Robyn Hurd (1961-2012) and Holly Everman faced punishment for failure, which SYTYCD was an option as well as a brutal punishment. These punishments range from tedious tasks to a task that fits the punishment. Another example was after Pia Toscano, a presumed front runner, finished in ninth place on the tenth season of American Idol. I was upset of course yet had no idea that Holly (Everman) had a problem with alcohol that she never overcame. A little over a week after Toscano’s elimination on April 18, 2011, I announced on my YouTube channel I was auditioning for the eleventh season of American Idol as a contestant. Little did the American Idol producers knew that I exposed the female contestant bias and my audition not only changed my life, but my audition also put Vote for the Girls on the map for good. That particular season, the American version of The X Factor was premiering the following fall. It was not until December 22, 2011 at 10:00 PM that Melanie Amaro became Vote for the Girls’ first official victory.
According to Megan Seely’s book Fight Like A Girl, there are many young women who are working in community centers, or as individuals, women are making change everywhere (Seely 220). Yours truly actually found Fight Like A Girl extremely helpful and is based on evidence from this transgender woman’s research as well as Vote for the Girls’ defining moments such as “pulling a ‘Brandi Chastain’”. In fact, I hold the most moderator wins during the 12 seasons Vote for the Girls is on the air. I have become the winning moderator when Lauren Froderman, Melanie Moore, Eliana Girard, and Amy Yakima won the respective seventh, eighth, ninth, and tenth seasons of SYTYCD, Nick Fradiani and Trent Harmon respectively won the fourteenth and fifteenth seasons of American Idol, and Cassadee Pope, Danielle Bradbery, Tessanne Chin, Jordan Smith, Alisan Porter, Chloe Kohanski, and Maelyn Jarmon respectively won the third, fourth, fifth, ninth, tenth, thirteenth, and sixteenth season of The Voice.
In summary, Vote for the Girls, the Always #LikeAGirl commercial, and the book Fight Like A Girl helped shape Vote for the Girls as one my most successful programs as well as Queen of the Willis, an animated sitcom set in Indiana that depicts the life of a transgender woman as a retailer-turned-homicide detective and her family. Last year, I announced that I was ending Vote for the Girls after 12 seasons in 2021. Vote for the Girls is currently in its 12th and final season.
Here is a link to the Moderator/Villain Eligibility Requirements for Vote for the Girls
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